When I tell people that I’ve been a solo traveller for over 5 years, I’m usually met with one of two reactions: people think I’m crazy, or they feel sorry for me.
People either become wide-eyed and gush about how ‘brave’ I am to have travelled alone, or they ask ‘were you not lonely?’ with expressions of pity mixed with confusion.
I can completely understand both reactions. Before I travelled, I had no idea of all the wonderful benefits of travelling alone. I was terrified, and the only reason I ever did it was because none of my friends wanted to travel, so it was a choice between embarking on a solo adventure or staying home, and I wasn’t going to do that!
Now, while I’ll be the first to admit that solo travel is not easy, and that it definitely takes guts to go it alone, I firmly believe that the benefits of travelling alone vastly outweigh the negatives, and in this post I want to show you just why travelling solo is one of the best things you can ever do.
10 Incredible Benefits of Travelling Alone
1. You Will Make More Friends
It may seem odd that I am talking about meeting people in a post about the benefits of travelling alone, but hear me out for a minute.
When you travel with other people, whether it be a partner or group of friends, you won’t tend to befriend as many people as you do when you travel alone.
When you’re travelling with friends, it can be tempting to choose more private accommodation, go everywhere together and not make as much effort with your fellow travellers.
One of the benefits of travelling alone is that making new friends will become second nature to you. Every new hostel or group tour is an opportunity to make connections with fun and interesting people, and not only will you be more approachable if you are on your own, but you will also naturally put yourself out there and talk to more people.
Some of my best friendships ever came about as a direct result of my being a solo traveller.
2. The World Won’t Seem as Scary
From the comfort of our living rooms, the world can often seem like a big and scary place, but when you travel alone, you soon realise that it isn’t half as big and scary and you once believed.
It doesn’t take long to realise that actually, it isn’t so difficult to make yourself understood in a foreign country or to get from A to B, and that wherever you go, people are generally kind and willing to help you out if you find yourself in a pickle!
Travelling with friends can make it too easy to depend on them for things, but when you have no choice but to conquer your fears, you soon learn that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place!
The world really isn’t as dangerous as you think, and whenever I travel alone, I am always shocked and humbled at the generosity and kindness of strangers. From the woman who gave me her spare coat when I was freezing in Ukraine, to the hostel receptionist who drove me to the airport when my taxi didn’t show up in Bali, to the Albanian family who adopted my boyfriend and I for a summer, I never cease to be amazed at how much beauty is in humanity.
3. You Can Travel the Way YOU Want to Travel
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of travelling alone is that you can travel exactly the way you want to.
You can wake up as early (or late!) as you want, you get to choose exactly how long you stay in each place, which accommodation you opt for and there is nobody around to force you to hike up a volcano when all you want to do is go and get a full-body massage!
While it’s certainly important to try new things when you travel, you should be trying them for YOU and nobody else. Being able to enjoy ultimate travel freedom without having to compromise is hands down one of the greatest things about solo travel!
4. Travelling Alone Increases Your Confidence
Whether it’s approaching strangers, eating in restaurants alone or putting your faith in yourself to figure out the way to the damn hostel, you will find that your confidence will sky-rocket when you travel alone.
It’s all too easy to rely on other people when you’re travelling in a group. You get lost somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, where none of you speak the language, and everybody is arguing over who has to be the one to approach the scary looking man to ask for directions.
‘You ask him!’
‘No, you ask him!!’
I’m guilty of it myself. We all are. But when you travel alone, you have no choice but to put your best foot forward and do things for yourself, whether that’s haggling at a market stall or asking for a table for one.
Before I travelled, I was terrified even meeting someone in a bar if they wouldn’t be waiting outside for me! Now I’ll walk right up to the bar, order myself a drink and make conversation with the bartender while I wait, and that’s all thanks to my years spent travelling solo.
5. You Learn More About Yourself
I don’t want to say that travelling alone makes you ‘find yourself’ because that implies that you have to be lost to begin with, and also, it’s so cliché.
However, one of the benefits of travelling alone for lots of people is that it can really help them to enjoy their own company and figure out what it is they actually enjoy doing.
Perhaps you discover that you’re actually a lot more sociable than you thought you were, or that you’re a thrill seeker who loves activities such as canyoning and hiking up volcanoes at sunrise. Perhaps you figure out that you prefer a slower pace of life, or that you have a passion for saving turtles, or that you’re actually a really good English teacher!
Whatever it is, you’ll definitely learn something about yourself when you travel, and travelling solo makes that process ten times faster.
6. You Will Become a Better Decision Maker
A life of travelling solo is a life full of decision making. Where to go next, how to get there, how long to stay there for, whether to stay in a private room or a dorm room, how much money to take with you…you name it, you decide it.
Maybe you’ll meet a cool group of people in your hostel and they ask you to travel with them to a random island somewhere. Perhaps a boat company ask you to volunteer for them in exchange for some cool perks.
Whatever the situation, it is down to you to make every decision along the way, and you will find that having to rely on yourself (and only yourself!), you end up becoming a much more responsible person than the one you were when you embarked on your trip.
7. You Have Complete Financial Control
Whenever you travel in a group, there are always going to be clashes over how much you spend at some point. Even travellers on similar budgets are never a complete match when it comes to spending, with one person always wanting to splurge that bit more than the other.
Whether your travel style involves eating out at restaurants for every meal or living off 7-11 toasties, you always get the final say in how much you spend when you travel alone.
8. You Will Become More Assertive
Being assertive is never a bad thing in life, and when you travel solo, you have no choice but to be assertive in some situations.
This could mean a firm ‘no!’ to a pushy market vendor, taking a strong stance on how much you’re willing to pay a tuk-tuk driver, or asking the weird guy on the pub crawl to stop following you around.
Either way, when you travel alone, you’re going to have to be firm from time to time, and the only thing that will help you get better at this is by practice. It can be too easy to rely on your partner or friends to be the dominant one when you’re out and about, but when they’re not there, you have to put on your big girl boots and take charge.
9. You Can Be More Flexible and Spontaneous
One of the greatest benefits of travelling alone is the fact that you can be as spontaneous as you like and you don’t have to consult a soul!
Over the years, I have said ‘yes’ to so many spontaneous trips (often resulting in me changing my course of travel completely) that just wouldn’t have been possible if I were travelling with a group of people.
Sometimes I’ve changed direction in order to spend more time with a holiday romance, or skipped countries entirely because a hostel job popped up that I just couldn’t turn down. I’ve taken last minute teaching jobs, embarked on random road trips across Kosovo and extended my trips more times than I could even begin to count.
10. Learn a Language Quicker
When you travel solo, you’ll pick up the local language quicker because you’ll be more likely to try out new words and phrases without having to feel embarrassed in front of your friends.
It’s surprising how much you can learn when you totally immerse yourself in something, and getting out of your comfort zone and away from the security blanket of your friends will force you to do just that!