You find them in hostel lobbies, museums, hiking trails and coffee shops, reading books, writing in diaries or following the GPS on their phone: People who are on holiday by themselves. I’ve done it as well, many times, and I never regretted it. Although my social environment is one of the most important things in my life and I love traveling with friends or family, I always experienced true personal and spiritual growth when I traveled by myself.
Here are 6 good reasons why you should try it out:
1. You get to know yourself better
Bad news: You cannot escape your problems, especially not when you go on a trip by yourself. Good news: This trip might help solving your problems – or make you recognize that your problems aren’t real problems, just pointless concern made up by your mind. Once you are free from the distractions of your daily life and the emotional numbness provided by lying on your couch and watching TV, you are closer to your real self than ever. Hence, traveling alone can bring things from the inside of your psyche to the surface and make you deal with them. This experience can be irritating at the beginning, but will soon feel cleaning and relieving.
2. You perceive more consciously
Having a few days or weeks by yourself outside of your normal environment not only brings you closer to yourself, but also to everything around you. When you travel with someone, you immediately talk about and reflect upon the things you see and experience, which, of course, is a great advantage of traveling with someone. But when you travel by yourself, you fully dive into the foreign environment without any connection to your home (except for phone and internet of course, but I recommend reducing the use of those to a minimum anyway while traveling). Thus, you can give your full attention to the city or landscape you are currently experiencing, which is an immensely stronger experience.
3. You are truly free
Your daily life is full of compromises – and so is traveling with someone, even when you and this person share a lot. Traveling alone is one of the few situations in which you can truly do whatever you feel like. You can spend the whole day in that museum you go totally nerdy about, you can eat when and what you feel like or you can even stay in your hotel room the whole day if you lack the motivation for doing something. Furthermore, you don’t have to keep your travel mate’s budget in mind and thus you can live after your own finances, spending money on the things that are truly worth it for you. There is nobody who would complain or who you’d want to be considerate of. At least for the duration of your trip you really are your own boss.
4. You make new friends
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you will be alone all the time. When I travel by with someone, I tend to stick to this person or group most of the time and often a short small talk in the hostel or pub is the only contact I exchange with new people. However, when I travel alone, I often meet many new people that I even stay in touch with later – someone I met when I traveled to Ireland alone for the first time even got me a room one year later when I moved to Dublin.
5. You learn to be alone
Many people fear being alone; they are afraid of being lonely, getting bored or being faced with problem they think they cannot handle themselves. Traveling alone helps you to appreciate yourself as good company. This doesn’t mean that you will cut off all your social contact when you get back. Having good friends, family, and a partner you love is wonderful and important. However, only when you can happily be alone from time to time, you are truly in peace with yourself. Furthermore, when you are forced to deal with certain situations or problems by yourself, you will be surprised what you can do all alone without any help – or how easy it is to get help from friendly strangers. Thus, your self-esteem rises and a higher self-esteem will make your interaction with other people easier. Weird, but true: The ability to be alone helps you to be a more social person.
6. The magic happens outside your comfort zone
In Lena Dunham’s TV show “Girls” the protagonist’s employer draws a circle on a wall and says “This is your comfort zone”. Then she draws a spot far outside the circle and says: “This is where the magic happens”. Not the newest realization, but still true. When you travel by yourself, you leave your comfort zone. And I promise, magic will happen.
Have you already traveled by yourself and what was your experience?