Okay, let’s be clear. Travelling with a partner or a group of friends can be more fun. But the reality for many, mostly single, people is that if they love to travel, they either have to wait for someone to come along, join a tour, or venture out and vacation alone.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel alone in North America and Europe many times. Admittedly, I prefer to travel with someone, but I also refuse to wait and travel until that someone comes along. I love to explore new cities and cultures….why should I wait for a man to do what I love? And, I have always chosen to plan my own trip than join a tour. I hate feeling like I am a part of a scheduled flock of sheep when I travel.
Given that I am fresh off a solo vacation, I thought a list of the top 3 benefits (and there are more) of travelling alone might inspire other singles itching to get out of Dodge but are nervous to do it alone.
Benefit #1 - You make all the decisions. It’s like having a dictatorship. What you say rules as there is no one there to tell you different. If you want to sleep in, you can. If you want to change your plans, go for it. If you want to tour your favourite clothing store for the 5th time that trip, the power is yours. It’s an open road and its all yours.
Benefit #2 - People feel sorry for you….and you can profit from that. Sounds sad, but people look at solo travellers with a bit of pity. “Oh, she’s all alone….maybe we can make it better.” It’s a lame perceptive since travelling alone is not a pity-worthy exercise, but you can work this sympathy to your advantage. Sit at the kitchen bar in a good restaurant and they will often give you tasters of new food items to try because you are dining alone and interested in watching them work. Travelling couples often befriend you because they need a break from talking to one another, and in turn, offer to buy you a glass of wine or even dinner to help break up their vacation monotony. Being alone (and admittedly, female) allows you to seem small and inconsequential enough that people will let you into monuments, museums or stores just as they are closing (and they aren’t supposed to) because you are just one little person. So work it – and walk away with perks you’d never get travelling with others.
Benefit #3 - You will feel like Christopher Columbus when you return home. Not because you found and colonized a new land, but because you went to a new country or new city, found your way and managed it all on your own despite your fears, other people’s judgements or the challenges of navigating (especially driving) solo. You will feel rock star confident. You will realize that you are actually pretty good company. You will realize you don’t need a wingman or entourage when you travel. And most importantly, you will be ready to plan your next voyage.
Are there drawbacks to travelling solo? Of course. And, you have to be extra street safe and smart because no one but you has your back. But there are many challenges to travelling with others. So pick your spot, plan your trip and venture out. I promise you will discover that you are your own best travelling sidekick.