Many people plan group holidays, couple getaways, family vacations, but the gem of traveling solo is irreplaceable. I am at a stage in my life where I am 19, yet I haven’t been on an extended trip by myself. Despite moving out for university and living somewhere completely new to me for the past 6 months, it’s not the same as being on the move, from one overwhelmingly new place to the next. This summer I intend on inter-railing through Europe and as I have been thinking about all the pros and the cons, this topic felt very fitting.
Meeting New People
When you’re traveling in a group, it’s very easy to slip into the comfort zone of the company and stray away from venturing out to strangers. Be it on public transport, in queues, at restaurants or cafés. The people you meet on your journeys are more often than not on their own journeys, and most definitely possess some nugget of knowledge that you don’t, so think of your solo travel as a hunt of stories and experiences.
Working With A budget
This is something you don’t quite learn to appreciate until you’re living and desperately trying to stick to a budget. A con might be there’s nobody to split the bill with, but the biggest pro is the skill of being able to travel frugally. The main aim that money spending fulfills while you’re traveling, is funding your experiences and the new places you get to see, not the luxuries, so look for a local diner or student hotspots (if you happen to be a student) and put those skills to good use!
We hardly get a break in our day-to-day lives. We move from our phones, to our laptops, to our TV shows, to our friends, families, and partners. When constantly bombarded with information or social situations, it is very difficult to take a step back and reflect. Take those minutes and hours to focus on the present and ask yourself the questions you never quite get a chance to.
Getting Street Smart
Life is essentially a problem-solving game, but when you’re traveling it’s all a little amped up, and well, it’s all on you. But that’s the best bit. Pick up a few versatile words and phrases in the native language in case you get lost and always remember to be courteous when asking for help or directions. Make sure your money is not in plain sight and only carry what you will spend that day if you have the option of a safe. One can go as far as informing their banks that they’re going to be traveling in case things go south. Don’t give yourself a hard time over things, but just remember to be on top of it. You’ll emerge victorious, and feeling empowered by your resourcefulness.
Expand Your Horizons
Traveling solo is not always a walk in the park, and you learn to pay attention to the things you may have taken for granted. You will see all sorts of people with all sorts of differing customs. And that allows you to gain understanding and an ability to empathize with individuals on a larger spectrum. This is an incredible skill to possess as it allows you to communicate and relate to anybody and that can get you far both in your personal and professional life.
You Appreciate Your Own Company
This is one of the reasons that makes me think traveling is incredibly important because I believe that if you don’t know how to be around yourself for an extended period of time, you are not prepared to take on a lot of milestones (such as getting in a relationship or having children). The understanding you gain of yourself when spending time alone is incomparable and fundamental before getting invested in something with another human being. If you don’t know how you operate in the context of the world, it’s difficult to know how you operate in the context of someone else’s life and your dual dynamic.
You’re Always A Stranger!
If you like to take a million photos, or pose next to landmarks with your selfie-stick, or spend hours at local boutiques, or record stores, or bookshops, you are free to do so. Don’t worry about being judged, it means nothing compared to your full enjoyment of your experience. Sure the locals might be thinking, “oh what a tourist” but guess what. You’ll never have to see them again!
Essentially, solo travel is an experience unlike any other and once done allows you a better understanding of yourself, of the world, and of the people around you all in exchange for a little bit of money management and quick-witted problem solving.