The Joys of Solo Travel

My upcoming wedding has me mourning my days as a solo traveller.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that I will have a consistent travel companion from now on.  Solo travel can get lonely at times and, in all honesty, there were moments I wished I had someone special to share those incredible places with.  Yet, I can’t help but think how the trips I took alone were some of my favourite experiences, topping the ones where I travelled with a significant other or a small group of friends.

travelyesplease.com| The Joys of Solo travel

On my way to the Acropolis in Athens. (2007)

The first time I travelled solo was not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I couldn’t find anyone who was willing to commit the time and money to travel with me.  It dawned on me that if I kept waiting for someone to travel with, then I would be missing out on so many great opportunities and experiences.

Benefits of Solo Travel

If you find yourself without a travel companion, for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to take that dream trip by yourself.  There are many joys and advantages to travelling solo.

You Set the Itinerary

When you travel alone, the only person you need to worry about pleasing is yourself.  You set the schedule.  The freedom to decide where to go and what to see, without being influenced by a travel companion’s preferences, is liberating.

I enjoy archaeological sites and historical walking tours.  Not everybody enjoys these types of activities, and that is fine.  When I travel alone, I don’t have to worry about my companion being bored, or even worse, missing out on a site because my travel partner is not interested in visiting.  I’ve travelled with people who love to shop, and for me, shopping is the worst possible way I could spend my day.  I am not a happy traveller after I’ve had to spend the day following someone around while they hunted for bargains!

When you travel alone, you start to notice how you spend your days when free from outside influences. You really discover what your true interests are. This knowledge is something you can bring back with you and integrate into your everyday life.

travelyesplease.com | The Joys of Solo Travel

Porto Venere, Italy (2006)

Time is on Your Side

Travelling alone allows you to enjoy the independence of being able to decide how long (or how little) time to spend in a location.  When you are the one setting the schedule, you have the freedom to travel more deeply.  If you want to take the time to read all those plaques in the museum, you can.  Feel like spending an hour or two watching the locals shuffle by while sipping a coffee at the corner cafe?  Then do it.  Enjoying browsing for interesting finds at the neighbourhood market? Then take your time.

When I travel with others I often feel rushed.  I’ve come back from trips not having captured the photos I wanted because I felt bad for making people wait while I searched for just the right angle, pondered a unique vantage point, or set up the perfect framing.  Coming home with great photos is a priority for me, and because I don’t like to shop, I consider my photos to be my souvenirs.  Travelling alone gives me the luxury of time, time to take as many photos as I wish.

Meet New People

If you’re an introvert, like me, travelling alone forces you to come out of your shell.  When you don’t have a travel companion to focus your attention on, you are more open to meeting new people, whether it be other solo travellers or area locals.

Striking up a conversation with other travellers can lead to a more enriching vacation.  Travellers love to make recommendations of places to see, activities to do and foods to try.  Hearing about someone else’s experiences may encourage you to go somewhere or see something that you had overlooked or maybe didn’t even know about.  I’ve had conversations with other lone travellers that led to us spending an hour or two, even an entire day together.

Conversing with the locals is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of the area.  They will expose you to a uniquely authentic perspective, beyond what your guidebook is able to tell you about the area.

Fellow travellers I met at the Colosseum in Rome. We then spent the day together exploring the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. (2006)

Discover New Confidence

Travelling alone is a great way to boost your self-esteem.  You, and you alone, are responsible for navigating a new country, culture and language.  There will most likely be a few bumps in the road.  You will have to be the one who problem solves and overcomes those obstacles.  By doing so, you will see just how capable you are!

My first solo trip was not smooth sailing, yet I still consider it to be the best experience of my life.  I came home with a confidence I didn’t have before, a new set of skills (reading a map, problem solving, learning public transportation), and a renewed independence.  The valuable reward of travelling alone is returning with a deep sense of accomplishment.

Should I Try Solo Travel?

The answer is an emphatic YES!  Do not put off what you’ve always wanted to do just because you don’t have anyone to do it with.  Your trip will not be any less exciting or memorable if you go alone.  In my experience, solo trips have been more memorable- they are the ones I look back upon most often and most fondly.

You may find solo travel is not for you, but you may love it.  Either way, you will have the satisfaction of crossing another place off your bucket list.

On every trip you take, you will discover interesting places and meet new faces. But when you travel alone, your greatest discovery will be YOU.

travelyesplease.com | The Benefits of Solo Travel

Nachi Falls, Japan (2018)

See my post Alone in Rome- Lessons Learned From My First Solo Trip to find out what my first time travelling by myself was like.

 

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  • SuzieD - I think the important thing for a solo traveller is not where u go, but what options are available.

    I *really* recommend going on a trip with Exodus or Explore or one of those adventure companies. They are excellent and a great way to meet other people. I have been on several – the Atlas Descent Bike Trip in Morocco, Lake Garda Mountain Biking, Sea Kayaking in Greece, Multi-Activity in Turkey. Honestly, they are wonderful and – no – I do not work for them.

    However, I have also gone *full-solo*, so to speak. If u decide to do that, my main tip would be go to Eastern Europe (for great value and things to do) and then…

    1. Stay in hostels, they are THE BEST place to meet other travelers.

    2. If there are no hostels, go on 1 or 2 day activity outings, e.g. diving, climbing, canyoning, etc. They are another great way to meet people.

    3. Carry your smartphone with you and join websites like Wandermates or AirBnB to help meet other people. None of them are perfect, but they are useful.

    4. Go on a backpacker-type bus tour. They are brilliant also and a great way to hook w people :)June 11, 2013 – 7:21 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Great tips, Suzie. Just because you travel alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. There are a lot of great ways to meet people while travelling, some of which you have mentioned.June 11, 2013 – 9:21 amReplyCancel

  • Vania - I am loving your blog! Came across it when Travel Yukon posted a link to the Klondike Hwy post (one of the most beautiful drives I have been so far, aiming to brave the Dempster Hwy next year!).
    I cannot agree more about solo travel! Yes, it is awesome having company to share memories with, but the freedom of exploring what you enjoy, ah…. that is priceless! And Suzie’s tip about hostels is absolutely right! I explored San Diego by myself hiking Torrey Pines and strolling around Old Town, but when I hit Gaslamp Quarter at night, half of the fun I gotta thank people I met at the hostel! Keep exploring, safe travels!November 6, 2014 – 7:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Hi Vania. I am so glad you found my blog and are enjoying my posts! Yes, solo travel can be a lot of fun, but I mostly appreciate the freedom to do as I wish. If I want to sit around and wait for the perfect photo, nobody will be annoyed by that! Happy travels and keep in touch!November 6, 2014 – 9:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Shivya Nath - Love this post! Like you, I started traveling solo because life is too short to wait for company. But after all these years, I crave ‘me travel time’ once in a while for all the reasons you’ve mentioned.

    I hope you’ll find the time to go solo once in a way after the big day too ;)February 6, 2015 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Thanks, Shivya! I’m still craving some ‘me travel time’ as well, so I should probably make that happen!February 7, 2015 – 12:45 pmReplyCancel

  • tika - I’m planning solo travel in Rome , this summer and your post helps me. Thank you!June 9, 2015 – 4:44 amReplyCancel

  • Carol Huxley - I’m 74, lived and worked in Europe for ten years in the ’60’s and 70’s.then travelled to Europe and Asia regularly – I was lucky to have available double-time Long Service Leave . I was almost always a solo traveller for the same reasons given here. I always had a wonderful time and now I’m writing ‘tales’ about these trips. So Solo Travelling has had two very good effects – the travel itself and now remembering it all (a struggle) and writing about it.July 10, 2015 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • Marlo Basco - Its so inspiring to learn the benefits of solo travels.Im now planning to go to italy and visit milan,florence,venice & rome..plus a side trip to paris france.
    This will be my 2nd trip as solo traveller but first time in Europe. I did solo in the US and had a great time.
    Is September ok to travel in Italy..i want to visit milan expo before it ends by october? Im from the Philippines ..so i hope its not too cold this Sept.Im tempted to join a package tour but i find their itirenary lacking and short..I decided to do it on my own since my friends cnt join me too. Im excited but nervous…Tnx a lotJuly 11, 2015 – 6:50 pmReplyCancel

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