It seems like a huge fear in America: being alone. Perhaps that’s why people are uncomfortable with dining alone, or going to a movie alone, or any number of other things—but the truth is, once you do it once, it’s not uncomfortable after. Travelling alone is similarly scary, but reaps huge rewards. So whether you’re a teen or someone searching for the best places to retire, here’s why you should branch out and try travelling alone:
Know and Grow
People love to say that people never change—but that’s simply untrue, especially as we go through different life stages. You could be a shy youth and a firebrand senior citizen across your life—but only if you allow yourself the space to grow away from others, and their ideas of what you should be.
Do what you want
Have you ever travelled with someone and been dragged along to some weird thing that you never in your life ever desired to see? Or, conversely, have you missed out on seeing something you wanted to see because your companion didn’t want to? Well, that’s no longer an issue here. You can get up when you want, do what you want, eat wherever you want—the list goes on. This is definitely a great way for indecisive or shy people to learn to make their own decisions.
Make New Friends
Another issue with travelling with others: You rarely venture outside your own group socially. The world is full of friendly, sassy, kind, shy, chatty, smart, and adventurous people, and when you travel alone, you’re much more likely to meet them. For example, hostels are famous for their inclusive and friendly environments, but you’re also likely to bump into a new friend at a bakery or a museum.
Treat. yo. self.
There is no better time for “me time” than when you’re solo. Read a book, get a massage, sleep in, eat a fancy meal—whatever makes you feel happy, healthy, and cared-for.
The common result of travelling alone: You come back a heck of a lot more confident. There’s something about flying halfway across the world and taking on the day that makes you feel both alive and in charge. If you’re young, it’s a wonderful way to learn how to navigate cities and pick up tools for adult life; if you’re old, it reinforces that there’s a lot you can do, and you don’t need anyone else to do it.
There are some pretty commonsense tips for travelling alone. Always let someone know where you’re going. Trust your gut—if a stranger or a situation feels off, walk away. At nighttime, stick to places that are open, public, and/or filled with foot and street traffic. If you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing, fake it till you make it; walk like you’re full of confidence. Don’t act like a tourist with a I <3 Rome shirt, a big map, or a travel book—put as much as you can on your phone, ditch the shirt, and if you’re lost, get off the street to check your maps. And bring plenty of books or reading material for events like meals or bus trips.