I have travelled alone on five occasions in my life.
Some have only been short trips, others have taken me around the world for months. A couple have involved moving my entire life to a place I’ve never been before. I haven’t always been on my own during these trips; sometimes I have met up with old friends and sometimes I have made new ones, but the decision to simply go somewhere has always been independent of others. And the act of reaching my destination has always been solo.
In my opinion, this is why everyone should travel alone at least once in their lifetime.
1. You will only do the things you want to do
Travelling with friends, partners and groups is great. But oftentimes it involves compromise on what you do and where you go. When you travel alone you answer to no one but yourself.
Want to spend the day wandering around a new city simply looking at people? You can.
Want to buy a book and read it under the coolest tree you find? Go right ahead.
Want to eat nothing but peanut butter, surf four times a day and not say a single word?
Travelling alone allows you to make decisions based purely on your own desires. And that is a rare luxury – and feels damn good.
2. You will meet amazing people
When you travel with people you know, you tend to stick together. You might meet people here and there, but because you have your core group/person with you, new people don’t tend to stick around.
When you travel alone, you are like a magnet for new people. You are more open to sharing new experiences with people you meet.
Go to a bar, buy a beer and talk to the first people that look like fun.
Smile. Smile, a lot. People will come up and talk to you.
It’s amazing the friends you will make. Maybe you will make a lifelong friend, maybe you will fall in love, or maybe you’ll just have one of those nights that lives on in your mind as an all-time experience. Some of my best memories from my travels alone involve people whose last names I will probably never even know. And that’s pretty cool.
3. You will challenge yourself
I’ll be honest; travelling alone can be scary.
All of the planning is up to you. All of the decisions are up to you. All of the pressure to have fun is on you. I’ve traveled with friends and boyfriends before and it’s easy to leave the planning up to them and just go with the flow. It’s easy to blame them if a day is boring or you miss a flight. And it’s easy to stick to them like glue.
But travelling alone puts the onus on you. You will be forced to plan, coordinate, put yourself out there and spend a lot of time inside your own head. Perhaps you will have to face some insecurities you have, and that can be scary.
But isn’t anything worth doing a little bit scary?
You will also learn the fine art form of taking a selfie while trying to get a monument or landscape in the photo.
4. You will feel freer than you ever have before
For me, the feeling of leaving a place – whether that is a plane taking off or just taking the first exit out of a city – is one of my favourite parts of travelling. And, when you do this by yourself you realise how much of your happiness and purpose in this life comes down to you.
The decisions you make. The places you go. The people you surround yourself with.
Never do I feel more free then when I am by myself leaving a place and heading somewhere new. I can distinctly remember the entire day when I boarded a bus for Byron Bay, Australia in 2008 with only a backpack and the idea that living somewhere I could surf everyday would make me happy. And boy did it. In fact, the moment the bus pulled into this town was the moment that I knew my life had changed forever.
By no means is this feeling limited to moving your life around the world – it can also involve a day trip somewhere new on your own, a weekend trip to a city to visit a friend or a couple weeks in a new country.
5. You can be the version of yourself you want to be (and probably discover something new about yourself while you’re at it)
Whether you are travelling alone or in a group, have you ever noticed that we all have a ‘vacation’ version of ourselves?
This version smiles a lot more. Laughs all the time. Tries new things. Has loads of both energy and patience. Vacation Laurie is freaking awesome. She is even more awesome when she is alone – because she is doing things for herself.
The act of being in a new place alone allows you to project the version of yourself you want to be all the time, but often don’t, whether that is because you are stressed by work, a relationship or caught up in acting the way you think you should.
By allowing yourself to be the version of yourself you want to be, you will probably discover how easy it is to be this person all the time. Travelling alone forced me to step back from my life and re-evaluate the things and people that mattered. And it changed me, for the better.
You don’t need a reason to explore somewhere new. And you don’t need someone to come with you. Get in your car, buy a cheap flight or plan an adventure. Take a chance. Do some soul-searching. Meet some new people. Learn something new about yourself. Go right ahead and take a selfie. You won’t regret it.
What have you learnt about yourself from traveling alone? Did you have a life changing adventure? Go on, spill in the comments below.