Everybody’s talking about packing your things and go, leaving your boring cubicle-life and see the world with your own eyes before you get too old. But, let’s be honest, solo travel is not for everyone.
So, you wanted to travel the world but you can’t even leave the building without texting your friends, talking to your boyfriend and sending an email to your boss so he knows where to find you… Are you really going to survive alone 7,000 miles away from your mother? Are you?
Keep reading, you might find the reasons why I love to travel solo and why you should travel alone too, at least once in your life.
1. Solo travel is expensive
So, you prefer sleeping at a nice hotel, are planning to go on a guided tour, joining a cruise in the Mediterranean or would love to rent your own apartment in central Manhattan for the weekend. Expensive if you are not sharing cost, BUT how much more expensive is it to travel solo?
While many countries use a single rate for rooms (charging the same for 1 or 2 people), many other use a per person rate. To be honest, with the exception of cars (which you could share through BlaBlaCar and others), almost everything else comes in a per person price: food, insurance, flights, museum tickets…
So, while solo doesn’t cut the costs in half, it does not double the price per se. And you can save by booking way in advance staying at shared rooms in hostels, or booking a room for one through Airbnb or Wimdu on a shared apartment, do some couchsurfing…
2. You are alone
We all know someone who can’t stand being alone. When you travel alone, you’ll most likely eat alone, walk alone, ride the bus alone… at least most of the time. So, if you are one of those who need to travel in flocks or herds, solo travel is not for you. Think of this, you need to ask directions on your own, you will get sick alone and you will get bored (yes, it happens sometimes) alone.
On the other side, you can stop where you want, change your itinerary, change your timetable, eat what you want, spend as much as you want… without having to convince anybody else to do it. Plus, you can plan your destination and your dates without having to wait for anyone to join in.
3. You need to take control
When you go solo, you must make decisions. When, where, what, how… everything is set by you and you are the only one to blame if you are late, don’t like the itinerary or the place is a mess. And if everything is awesome, incredible, superb… you are the one to congrats for such an amazing decision. Traveling alone is amazing to improve your decision-making skills. Interesting, huh?
Plus, if you are a control freak, you can be a control freak alone too.
4. You need to talk to people
At one point or another, you will have to talk to people. It doesn’t matter how much technology you use or how alone you want to be, travel will force you to talk to people you never met before.
You’ll have to learn to solve other people’s problems and answer to questions you didn’t expect. Why don’t you have children? why do you travel alone? where is your husband?… they don’t want you to feel ashamed or intimidated, but they’ll expect an answer (preferably a polite one.)
On the other side, you will learn a lot about yourself, what you like and how to be assertive (highly valued skill they say).
5. People might not understand your jokes
So, you and your friends have built a sense of humour and know what you like and talk about more or less the same issues. You have a common background and live in the same area, watch the same shows and speak the same language. When you meet new people on the road, they will not share that same background and you’ll have to work your way around that.
So, if you are not into making new friends, learning about new cultures and trying new things, get stuck in your comfort zone and stick to your group of friends. Or…
6. They don’t speak your language
No matter what they told you in high school, English is not THE common tongue. In all my travels, I have only been able to speak “just” English in Iceland, UK and US. So, if you don’t want to learn a new language, are bad at drawing and can’t understand directions in signed language… don’t go without a guide or a friend who can do all of that.
Or you can try. It won’t hurt you to learn a few words and you never know when you could be using them again.
7. It’s dangerous (for you)
Ok. You might have heard how dangerous and intimidating the world can be, specially for female travelers. Everybody will highlight that when you tell them that you are going solo. There are countries were your dress code will be limited, others where you shouldn’t speak to men, some in which finding women’s items can be really difficult… But men get their share of “warnings” too.
You just need to be extra prepared, conscious of every danger and making every choice with care. But that doesn’t mean there will be a problem right around every corner.
Just remember, you are not the first woman (or man) to travel the world, think of Jeanne Baré or Amelia Earhart for instance, they travelled the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. And you’ll discover that people is kind to strangers in many places around the world.