Originally published 9 December 2015.
This post got me a spot on a local news channel! See the interview here: Tips for Traveling Solo in 2016!
I don’t mind striking out on my own anywhere in the world. Notice I said “on my own” and not “alone.” No one is ever truly alone when they travel, even traveling solo. If you’re a believer, God is always there with you, watching out for you. And even if you’re not, if you ever need something, there is always some kind person there to help, sometimes out of nowhere!
I’ve had many people tell me over the years that I’m just so “brave” to travel by myself. But in reality, I think sometimes I’m just too naïve or too excited to care about all the “what ifs” that will likely never happen. My first trip alone was to Japan for three months, and no, I do not speak Japanese. But that experience changed my life and made me who I am today. There was always someone there willing to help me when I got lost, and I figured out a lot of things on my own, giving me confidence I didn’t know I had within me! Here are five ways solo travel can be the absolute best.
1. Opportunities to Make New Friends
This is one of my most favorite things about traveling on my own. I love having friends all over the world, and even if we don’t really keep up afterward, it’s nice to have a friend if only for a little while. I was in Krakow, Poland, a few years ago, and I met the nicest girl from Australia, also traveling on her own. She had been teaching English and living in Oslo, Norway, and was on holiday there in Krakow. We ended up having supper together and trading stories of places we’ve been. I didn’t hear from her after that, but we had a fun girls’ night!
I have met people on planes, on tours, and in hotels and B&Bs; you just never know where you’re going to meet a new friend. I first met my husband in our hotel in Prague, and look at us now!
2. Your Time is Your Own
When you travel solo, your daily schedule is only dependent on YOU! If you’re an early bird, you can go catch that worm, get your day started early, and make the most of your time wherever you are. But wait, what if you’re the mattress back who likes to be out at night instead? You can do that, too! No one will nag you, and you won’t have to nag anyone else either. Want to make the earlier train into town? You can do it! Make your own schedule, or don’t. It’s up to you!
3. You Get to See and Do What You Want to See and Do
Have you ever felt like you only do the things that other people want to do? If you’re on your own, you can make plans to do and see things you’re interested in seeing. You can spend ALL DAY at the Louvre, or roaming the streets of that one historic place you’ve been dying to see, or enjoy a last-minute show at the Sydney Opera House because you found a good deal on a single ticket. Maybe you want to take a day trip out to a remote village. Do it. Make the plans you want, change your plans on a whim, just go for it and enjoy yourself! One time in Turkey, my friends didn’t want to take a hot-air balloon ride, but I sure did!
4. Slide into Tours Easily
Just recently I was in New Orleans with friends, but we decided to do our own things for the morning. I wanted to go on a free walking tour, but little did I know I needed a reservation! When I arrived, the tour guide said her tour was full, so I might be out of luck. However, sometimes people don’t show up, so if I wanted to hang around, I could have a chance to tag onto the tour. But, a group of four showed up before me, so they had first dibs. I sure was glad I waited, though, because only ONE reservation didn’t show. Guess who got to go on the tour while the other four were out of luck… this girl! This also applies to rides at theme parks, cable cars, and pretty much anything you have to stand in line for. Companies usually try not to send things on their way less than full.
5. Finding Your Own Bravery
OK, so this one has to be my favorite. You are braver than you may think, and solo travel is the perfect opportunity to prove it to yourself! You can communicate with people who don’t speak your language. You can use a map to find your hotel. You can try new things and have new experiences. You can ask someone for help, as well as help another solo traveler. You can explore new cities in new countries and find a whole new life inside yourself… Because you’re brave enough to do that.
What are some things you enjoy about traveling on your own? If you’ve never traveled solo before, where would you like to go? It’s a world of possibility out there!