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Guest Blog: The Benefits of Solo Travel

Guest Blog: The Benefits of Solo Travel Photo

Photo by raymond longaray

Posted on August 13, 2012 in Travel Tips

We all love to share experiences with our friends and loved ones, but sometimes you just want to get away from it all – including friends and loved ones – for a little while. Traveling solo can be a great experience, and affords you unique opportunities that may not be available to larger groups. You may have to make extra preparations for safety and planning, but here are some of the benefits of long-distance quality “me” time.

Go your own way

It’s a basic law of travel that the more people there are in a group, the more compromises have to be made. No matter how flexible your companions are, there will inevitably be a conflict of interest somewhere along the line and you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to drive 50 miles out of your way because someone really wants to visit the World’s Second-Biggest Ball of Twine (or worse, stand in line to go up the Eiffel Tower). By traveling solo, you get the freedom to decide definitively what you want to do and what you want to skip.

Flexible itinerary

So you’ve planned to do your trip a particular way but at the last moment you’ve been presented with a golden opportunity. Do you continue on to the museum as planned or do you scratch it and go see your favorite band play a surprise rooftop show on the other side of town? Or, say you have an unexpected layover and you now have 3 hours to kill in London—where to? In a group, the decision can be agonizing, but on your own you can change plans at a moment’s notice if a more interesting option emerges.

Personal Space

Long transit times in close quarters with the same person or people can lead to undue tension, and that’s no fun for anybody. Just like moving in with your best friend can cause friction over time, sitting next to the same person in a car, train, or airliner for hours and hours can make both of you testy, and set an unpleasant tone for your trip. Long-distance travel on your own can be a relaxing, therapeutic, even meditative experience. Making a 2,000 mile road trip alone might sound boring at first, but how many chances in life do you get to fine-tune your power ballad sing-along technique free from critical ears?

Make new pals

If you’re used to talking with people, you might be hesitant about going into unknown territory without someone on hand to hear you say, “Wow, look at that!” But wherever there are people, there are people to talk to, and being away from familiar faces can motivate you to chat with strangers. Say you want your picture taken in front of the local landmark--you’ll have to ask a stranger to take it for you anyway, so why not start a conversation while you’re at it? If they’re local, ask them what’s good around town; if they’re a fellow traveler, swap road stories. Who knows where this can take you—it could just be passing remarks, or you might end up with some far-flung friends.

Savor the solitude

If idle chatter isn’t really your thing, then traveling solo can be a great opportunity for you to be alone with your thoughts without fear of awkward silences between you and a companion. There are few situations in everyday life where we are not expected to talk regularly, so spending time away from familiar people can be a rare treat for some folks. Plus, if something strikes you as particularly profound, you can sit and stare in silence for as long as you like. You may find the view from the rim of the Grand Canyon or the top of a mountain even more awe-inspiring in silent isolation.


Erin Leigh, our guest blogger, is a solo traveler connoisseur. She's roamed alone to the California coast and South Africa and oodles of places in between. When she's not traveling, she's a writer for New American Funding, a Fannie Mae Seller/Servicer, FHA Direct Endorsement – HUD Approved, and VA Automatic mortgage banker with more than 550 employees.

MilwVon

Comment by MilwVon on August 14, 2012

Love this article! Thank you for sharing, as I thought maybe I was the only person on the planet who might have these feelings and attitudes about solo travel.

Comment by mooshkageebs on August 15, 2012

I agree. Great article Erin, thanks. I travel alone often, and my family & friends usually ask me "You're going all alone?" and I always tell them, "No, I'm going with my best friend. Me." I am now preparing to spend a month in Eastern Europe, visiting 6 countries, all of different languages. I'm not at all worried because I know I will manage. This is what makes it an adventure.

Comment by plet39 on August 20, 2012

I just got back from a two-week solo driving trip to the Canadian Maritimes (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick), and it was wonderful to be able to do what I wanted when I wanted. My first solo travel was by necessity (my then boyfriend wouldn't go hiking if his life depended on it), but I soon discovered that I actually preferred traveling on my own when my daughter isn't available. It's amazing how many "problems" you can resolve in conversations with yourself as you drive . . . and people in other cars simply think you're singing along to the radio!

Comment by njw987@yahoo.com on August 29, 2012

I never went traveling solo before, but I have always considered it. The last time I went on a group trip we ended up splitting up so much anyway that I feel like a solo trip may be something worth experiencing. I think my favorite point from this post is the "make pals'" section. I think it would be really neat to start being able to make friends around the globe. Maybe if they decide to come to the states I would be able to show them around.

xeric

Comment by xeric on December 2, 2012

I've been travelling solo for years, often arriving at a destination with only the briefest of itinerary's and a decision to progress in whatever direction the hire-car may be facing.

If there is no hire-car booked as is likely in SE Asia, I just go wander and this actually allows the most useful of glimpses, i.e. that of my place of abode prior to payment.

It also means I don't get palmed off with a room next to a lift or the stairwell as is often the case with pre-booking.

Travelling in company can be a wonderful sharing experience. It can also be a right-pain! Given the choice...I would prefer to walk alone simply because of the opportunities to mingle & mix which isn't always possible in a group or duo.

Ultimately, better to travel than not and better somewhere new than revisiting old memories.

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