In this digital era, it has never been easier or safer to travel solo. With everything you need for planning and executing your trip in the palm of your hand, all of your travelling dreams are just one click away.
Whether alone or with a group, travelling of all kinds is something every person should experience at some point in their life.
In this article, we will be highlighting how traveling solo specifically, can help you to embrace the unknown and grow in many wonderful ways that you may not have expected.
It is an important point to note, that when you travel solo, you are never truly alone. Depending on where you are headed of course, but the likelihood is that wherever you go, there will always be friends to be made, locals and travelers alike.
So how do you know if solo travel is what you're looking for? Let’s break down how solo travel can help you grow and evolve.
Expand Your Comfort Zone
Traveling alone inherently pushes you out of your comfort zone, and invites you to meet your edge of familiarity.
Taking that first leap is always the hardest part, but that's good news! Because from there, each step taken, builds upon itself.
Through many macro and micro experiences and encounters along your path, your capacity for seemingly uncomfortable edges will increase without you even realizing it.
A time that will encourage personal growth from all angles.
From navigating unfamiliar places to making spontaneous decisions, or striking up a conversation with a stranger.
By overcoming challenges and adapting to new environments, you will build self-confidence resilience, and a sense of independence that is deeply rewarding and shows you exactly where your strengths and capabilities lie.
Become a better decision-maker
Solo travellers are faced with a multitude of decisions all day long, both big and small. From choosing what kind of environment you prefer to deciding on daily things like where to eat and how to spend your time.
Do you prefer the mountains or the sea?
Do you want a lively party scene, or hammocks and books?
These seemingly small moments of decision are an excellent exercise for following your curiosity, connecting with your intuition and discovering things about yourself that you didn't yet know.
These decisions ripple out and empower you in the bigger areas of your life, to take charge of your own experiences, and to trust your instincts and judgment and that you do know what you want and what is best for you.
Connect Across Cultures
Striking up a conversation with those who cross your path, whether they are fellow travellers or locals to the area, connecting in conversation is an essential part of travelling alone.
Unless of course, you are seeking solitude, the people you meet along your travels can be the best part of the whole experience. You may meet lifelong friends, simple conversations can turn into day-long adventures which turn can into a spontaneous trip somewhere neither of you has been yet.
What is for sure is that you will be exposed to the full spectrum of opinions and beliefs, hopefully from people who are equally curious and open to learning and taking on new perspectives.
Develop A Well-Rounded State of Mind
Travelling solo will expose you to a diverse range of cultures, beliefs, perspectives and ways of being. This applies to the people in the country that you are visiting, as well as the travellers you meet along the way. This exposure encourages an open-mindedness that shows you the world through another's eyes.
During long nights of conversation over beers at the local bar, your preconceived ideas will be challenged and your understanding deepened.
Getting to know the locals and experiencing their way of life can foster a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and give you an empathy and understanding that you may not have had before.
One great way to meet locals whilst giving back at the same time is to find a tour that is owned and operated by someone in the area where you are staying.
Sites like Airbnb offer experiences now in some cities but, as always, personal recommendation and word of mouth is always the preferred option.
Try talking to the reception of your hostel or hotel, the host of your work exchange, or anyone you meet for that matter.
Ask questions, be interested and follow your excitement!
Find Fulfilment by Disconnecting from the Digital World
Solo travel provides an opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and immerse oneself in the present moment. Without the constant distraction of technology, you have more time to reflect on your thoughts, goals, and aspirations. Or to just let your mind decompress as you look out the window on a long bus ride or flight, or as you gaze out at the ocean from your hammock perch.
This time for introspection can lead to personal insights and a greater understanding of what you want for your life, your own desires and values, which in turn makes way for more happiness, gratitude and contentment with life.
Taking time away from technology and out in the world living your life also gives your brain's dopamine levels a reset, all of which feeds into a feeling of heightened connection with the beauty of the world around you.
Being present in the moment and appreciating the journey itself, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all contribute to a more fulfilling travel experience and some great stories to take home with you at the end.
Expand Time and Explore Yourself
You will never have more time than you do whilst you are solo travelling.
This is time that you can use to explore wherever your interests lie (and whatever will fit into a backpack), whether it's reading, writing, photography, watercolour painting, performance art, a musical instrument, or simply the art of observing the world around you and some good old fashioned people watching.
Time alone on the road can lead to discovering new passions or hobbies that you might not have had the opportunity to explore in your daily routine. Likewise, it may carve out the exact time that was needed to hone talents and interests that you already have.
Between breaking out of your ordinary routine, the stimulation of new places, faces and ideas, and the flow state of freedom that solo travel provides, you are sure to feel inspired and refreshed in the area of creativity.
Become A Better Problem Solver
When you are travelling by yourself and you are left faced with challenges such as language barriers, missed connections, or unexpected changes, you develop pretty effective problem-solving skills.
These experiences test us, our attitude towards ourselves, how easy (or hard) we are on ourselves is brought clearly into focus. We are challenged to think creatively whilst staying composed under pressure.
There is always a solution to any problem or a great lesson to be learnt. Some are easier to swallow than others, admittedly.
When problems arise it’s another great time to remember that you are never truly alone and that help is always there is one form or another.
Unforeseen situations are common while travelling, especially solo. Learning to adapt and find solutions on your own encourages flexibility and resourcefulness. These skills are invaluable not only on the road but also in all aspects of life.
Hot tips for travelling solo
1. Hostels over hotels
Being in a hostel doesn't mean having to be social the whole time but if you are feeling the need for some fun-fast-paced-connection, hostels are a wonderful place to meet travellers who you can spend a few days with.
Hostels are a great hub for happenings. Embrace spontaneity and unexpected adventures with new friends, like going to a night market or on a waterfall hike.
If you want to do something but are unsure of how safe it may be to do it alone, buddy up! This way you get the comfort of group travel without the obligation of going everywhere your friends do.
Moments of solitude to recharge your batteries are equally as important and will make you enjoy time spent with people more!
2. Longer stays for less
Enjoying a place and want to stay longer without breaking the bank?
This is great for extending your travels and allows you to work in exchange for your accommodation and food, saving you a bit of money and giving you a respite from fast-paced hostel hopping.
3. Better to be Safe
- When looking for a place to stay, always be thorough whilst reading the reviews, and if you are unsure, arrive without a booking and pay only once you’ve scooped the place out. Most of the time hostels won't be fully booked, but make sure you have a backup if your first choice doesn’t work out.
- Another great tip that could save you on more than one occasion is having a photocopy of your passport on your phone.
- When you are going on public transport or into a crowded market make sure to use a bum bag or side bag that you can wear across your body as opposed to a backpack. Stay aware of your surroundings and always follow your gut instincts.
Make Solo Travel A Priority - It Is Worth It!
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart… And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” - Confucius
And so, with the closing of this chapter, we invite you to consider solo travel as more than just a vacation—but instead as a profound and transformative journey.
An embrace of the unknown, and a treasure chest of possibility, within its mysteries lie the keys to your personal growth.
Where stepping out of our comfort zone becomes a habit, choices become a testament to our desires, and conversations with strangers become cherished memories etched into the stories of our lives.
In the digital age, where our screens constantly beckon for our attention, solo travel offers a refreshing escape, a chance to disconnect from the virtual and reconnect with the tangible.
Step boldly into the world, and may your solo adventures be filled with rich conversations, remarkable connections, and an enduring love affair with the beauty of the world around you. In the face of adversity, unearth a well of resilience, and discover a calm that opens doors when frustration slams them shut.
Travel solo, not as an escape from reality, but as an embrace of the extraordinary.