You’re at the office.
You somehow login to Facebook again.
You scroll down the newsfeed.
You see EVERYONE posting pictures from their travel & vacations.
“WTF! Everyone is traveling except for me?!”
Then you start rationalizing:
“Well sure – they probably inherited a lot of money…
They’re probably traveling with friends…
Not to mention how they’re neglecting their future…
Oh well, better get to work.”
You close Facebook, feel like crap. Rinse repeat.
This post is your wake up call.
Time to throw out the few excuses for why you shouldn’t travel alone, and replace them with the MUCH BIGGER list of reasons you should travel alone.
Let’s begin. Get the free moral-boosting cheat sheet for traveling solo
Get the free moral-boosting cheat sheet for traveling solo
You will Know Thyself
Traveling alone gives you the best opportunity to truly learn about yourself.
It gives you the opportunity to experience many unique challenges you wouldn’t have received anywhere else.
This helps you build character and learn the things that truly matter in your life.
Releasing yourself from society’s claws for a while and ditching life’s prescribed checklist can feel quite intimidating at first, but eventually is one of the most liberating feelings you’ll ever have.
You will become comfortable with being uncomfortable
“Now you can follow your gut
Or you can follow the past
But if you knew an eclipse was coming
Why’d you even ask?”
– Follow the Leader (by Matthew Ryan)
People don’t like change. Our mind is constantly trying to keep us away from change to protect us from what hides behind door number three.
This is why we’re natural procrastinators – we rather do something familiar, than face the unknown & unfamiliar.
That’s the reason why traveling solo is considered a challenge to most people.
But here’s the key: once you break through that glass ceiling, you rewire your brain to re-establish the boundaries of your comfort zone. If you keep challenging yourself consistently – facing discomfort will become your new comfort zone.
You’ll become independent
Guess what. Mommy isn’t here to cook for you or do your laundry (i hope).
You have to do it yourself, at least most of the times…
It not only makes you more independent, but this might come at handy when you’re couchsurfing or when you share a room with other residents. It’s a great gesture to give your hosts or your roommates, and will help you make a lot more friendships a lot quicker.
To prove that you can
Unless you’re surrounded with Travel Freaks – you’ll probably face a lot of doubt & resistance from your friends & family when you share your travel aspirations with them.
That’s simply because you’re doing something that is usually perceived on the outside as “very dangerous”, “only weird people travel alone”, “people with no friends travel alone” – but at the same time it’s what most people wish they could do themselves.
The real reason people react this way is because it quiets down their own conscious – allowing them to continue dragging their asses to the office and continue lying to themselves.
The great Nomadic Matt agrees:
“Don’t wait for people to hold you back from living your dreams. You could be waiting a long time until someone finally says yes. There’s only now — and if you don’t go, you’ll regret it.”
You’re better than that, traveling by yourself helps you prove it to them, but most importantly – to yourself.
You Develop Beginner’s Mind
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
Beginner’s mind (also known as Shoshin) is a concept known in Zen Buddhism. It means approaching things with an open mind, and not let any fixed preconceptions or opinions dictate your behaviour.
It means embracing the vulnerability that comes with saying “I don’t know anything” when you’re trying to learn something new, instead of hiding behind your ego & allowing the fear of looking bad take over your willingness to learn. Our fear of being criticised and ridiculed is what causes us to give up on our goals, or not even start.
Well guess what – when you travel solo – all that pressure get’s thrown out the window. It gives you a wonderful opportunity to:
Develop new skills
“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula K. Le Guin
This reason is alone is worth going on your journey.
You’ve got all the time in the world to learn some new skills. No one is there to judge you or criticize you. You’re the master of you’re own schedule. It gives you the freedom to learn & make the necessary mistakes you need to become better at your craft – whatever it might be.
Want to learn the local language? How about surfing? Horseback riding? Salsa Dancing? Jiu Jitsu? Play the violin?
You CAN do all those things, and much much more.
We were the happiest when we were children, seizing all those endless opportunities we were given. Diversity is what got us excited. But then we grew up… and, well, you know the rest.
It’s time to be a child again. The world is your oyster!
You develop compassion
When you travel alone, you’ll most likely have more than one opportunity to share a room or a meal with others. You will see a lot of poverty and struggle. Seeing those things develops your sense of selflessness, compassion & empathy. It helps you put things in perspective, and appreciate the things you have in your life.
You’ll start doing your homework
Your parents will be proud of you. You’re finally doing your homework!
Well, the reason is because not doing you’re homework will be a lot more dangerous than getting an F in English Literature class…
Doing your research when traveling alone is a must. Not doing proper research is the fool’s way of doing things – you should know better. This doesn’t mean you should always plan every little detail in your journey – that definitely sucks…
Part of traveling solo is following your gut. That’s usually when the exciting stuff happens. But I learned that it’s not a question of either/or – aim for the middle ground.
You learn to face your fears“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
Yes, traveling alone can be scary at first. This is simply because you haven’t done it before and you don’t know what to expect.
But doing your homework properly helps you face fear mountain, which all of a sudden shrinks & becomes just a small bump of fear. And guess what – walking over a bump (of fear) on the road is a lot easier than climbing a mountain.Click To Tweet
When you’re traveling alone, you’re challenging yourself & overcoming your fears. Why? Because you’re all by yourself – it’s all on YOU!
If you don’t do it – it won’t get done. So guess what happens? You f*cking do it.
You get a chance to work in multiple professions
Imagine you’re resume looks something like this:
- Web Developer
- Freelance Writer
- Tour guide
- Surfing instructor
- Graphic Designer
- SEO consultant
- Busking (playing guitar on the street)
- Marketing/Social Media Manager
- English Teacher
That’s a pretty diverse resume isn’t it?
What if i told you this list is partial, and that you can acquire a lot more skills?
When you’re traveling alone, you get a chance to try new things, explore, learn new skills & professions. Whether it’s for monetary reasons, or just for fun (or both) – you can choose to learn almost any skill you want and make some money out of it.
If you’re seriously considering a travel lifestyle – there are no limits to the number of things you can do.
You’ll improve your social skills
Seems quite counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? You’re traveling alone. How can you possibly improve your social skills?
Here’s the thing. When you travel with your friends, you feel less obliged to reach out to others and socialize with strangers. You have your friends with you, why would you talk to strangers, right (besides, mommy always said never talk to strangers)?
But when you travel alone and you don’t have a default group to lean on, you have no choice but to make some new friends. The more you engage with others on the road ⇒ the more you get to improve your social & communication skills ⇒ The more friends you’ll make.
Amanda Kendle from Vagabondish explains it the best:
“When you meet someone traveling, it’s often clear that you may only spend a day or two or at most a few weeks or months with them, so your friendship tends to accelerate a lot more quickly than it would if you were back home and making a new friend through work or study, for example.”
The goal of solo travel isn’t to stay away from human interaction. Quite the opposite – it’s to create new friendships & to meet different kinds of people you never would’ve met otherwise.
This inevitably leads to:
You’ll make a bunch of new friends
Whether it’s your hosts, the locals or fellow travelers – you will make new friends. You’d be surprised of how many.
And of course there’s always a chance you’ll find your future husband/wife.
Plus, friendships you create on the road can become very valuable. You can later visit them in their hometown, and even stay at their place. And of course they might do the same, so have your couch available when they do.
It’s easier to move around
It’s simple – the less (human) baggage you carry – the more flexible you are.
This makes things like couchsurfing and finding a list minute flight (obviously) a lot easier when you’re traveling alone.
You can take your time
Take your time.
Traveling solo gives you the opportunity to settle down somewhere, without someone pushing you to jump to the next location on the list.
It’s your journey, you get to choose what to do with it.
You will become smarter
This is an inevitable fact – you will become smarter when you travel alone.
On the road you’re constantly planning, solving problems, adjusting to new places. You’re constantly being challenged, which means your brain’s moving parts are working all the time.
This is without even mentioning all the time you have to read your favourite books.
It’s easier to bootstrap
Bootstrapping when you’re traveling solo is a lot easier compared to traveling with a partner or a group (almost impossible).
When you’re alone, you spend money based on your true needs only. A partner usually has his/her own needs & requirements, causing us to make more sacrifices “for the team” and spend money you would have preferred saving.
You will realise home is where you make it
Obviously your main home still has its own special place in your heart. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try adjusting to new places and make them your home.
Home is where you make it.
You can make more money
Whether it’s to fund the rest of your trip, meet new people, or develop some new skills – you can choose to mix work & travel, and enjoy the best of both worlds.
As a traveler in a foreign country, you can take advantage of geo-arbitrage.
Some countries pay a lot more for certain services than they do in others, and if you’re bootstrapping your travel – you can make some decent income while trying to reduce your expenses to a bare minimum.
Alternatively if you’re traveling to a poor country that doesn’t pay as much, you can use the internet to do some freelance work.
It’s always great to make money in dollars & spend in baht.
The takeaway here is – you get to make your own decisions without causing unnecessary tension with your travel partners or disappoint your friends who just want to make it to the next full moon party on time.
You’ll get rid of bad habits
Did you think you couldn’t last 1 hour without your phone or without checking Facebook every 15 minutes?
Surprise surprise – solo travel to the rescue. When logging in to Facebook is not an option – you don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.
Traveling with your old friends means carrying your old habits. Same people = same behaviour.
That is why changing your habits when you’re traveling with friends is a lot more difficult compared to traveling solo.
You discover you’re unknown unknowns
You don’t know what you don’t know.
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld
It’s up to you to discover them.
Traveling solo gives you a wonderful opportunity to explore new things – new cultures, new people, new perspectives. It gives you a chance to look at the world from different lenses, live alternative lifestyles & redefine your values.
You broaden your scope without even realising it.
This helps you:
Become a calmer person
Traveling alone means you get to make your own decisions. You get to do exactly what you want, instead of following orders or doing something you’re uncomfortable with. That alone helps you sleep better at night.
Plus, the fact that you’re outdoors most of the time helps you develop awareness & calmness.
A 2014 Japanese study showed that people who were more exposed to nature were able to reduce their stress level and increase their calmness by 55%.
Whether it’s sitting near the ocean, walking in forests or climbing a mountain – being outdoors reduces your stress levels significantly.Pro Tip: This hack can be applied anywhere, not only when you’re traveling. Feeling stressed out? Go pay nature a visit.
You will boost your creativity
Steve Jobs was known to take long walks outside whenever he needed a boost of creativity. Safe to say he knew what he was doing…
A study made in 2012 in the University of Kansas showed that hiking in the wilderness can improve creativity and cognitive abilities.
Get creative when traveling. Take on some design/programming gigs, start learning photography, learn how to paint, write some songs etc’… whatever it is you like doing.
Travel inspires you to be creative & create things. So be.Pro Tip: As you can see – increasing your “nature time” is a healthy hack. Not only does it make you a calmer person – it also gives you a creativity boost. So take more walks, run outside instead of on a treadmill & take more walking breaks.
You’ll increase your confidence
Traveling alone can definitely feel intimidating at first, especially for you ladies out there. But ladies, don’t fret – if Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad (and many others) can do it, then so can you.
Sure, you’ll face a lot of challenges on the road. Whether that means meeting new people, negotiating (and argue) prices with the clerk at the local food market, or attempt to strike a Spanish-only conversation con el mesero en el restaurante.
The more you travel solo and face your challenges, the higher your confidence will grow.
Bring it on!
You become a better decision maker
For all you corporate guys out there (i used to be one of them so i’m allowed to address you like that) – are you used to be told what to do or where to go?
Well guess what: this time you get to make your own decisions.
It’s about time you learn to make your own decisions, without a boss filling your calendar with useless meetings.
You can’t imagine how valuable this is. Go ahead, try it. I dear ya!
You get to travel on your own terms
Here’s a fifth grade problem for you:
You want to go surfing for a few weeks in the beaches of Chile, but your friends want to go catch a Boca Juniors game in Buenos Aires (Argentina). What do you do?
The answer is you travel solo, and create your own damn itinerary.
You learn to dream big
Traveling solo is a consistent journey of shattering the glass ceilings you’ve been warned about by people who are scared to go do it themselves. You’ll get to do things that your friends & family considered impossible & completely out of reach.Click To Tweet
While most people will still believe they’re right (even after you’ve proven them wrong) – you will know for a FACT that anything is possible.
After you get to travel solo – suddenly your dream of opening your own business (or whatever dream you might have) doesn’t seem so scary anymore.
You will become a human trip advisor
Next time one of your friends is planning to travel, guess who he’ll call for some travel tips?
That’s right – lil’ old you.
You’re the man with the wisdom. You’re the man with the expertise. You’re the man (or woman. In that case sorry about the male character)!
You’ll experience every moment to it’s fullest
A quick unwritten fact about traveling with friends:
More headcount ⇒ more distractions ⇒ less appreciation of the moment.
I’ve got the chance to travel with friends, with a partner, and alone. I’ve done it all. And i can tell you with complete certainty that when it comes to truly experiencing every moment of your travel – there is no contest.
Solo travel wins by a KO.Note: i haven’t got the chance to travel with a wife/someone i love, because i haven’t met her yet… If you have and you’ve traveled together, let us know how it went! I hope you came home together as well…
You’ll learn to listen to your gut
“You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” – Paulo Coelho, The AlchemistClick To Tweet
One of the most common scenarios when traveling with others is that you’re often forced to make sacrifices to please, or avoid hurting others – even though it’s not what you want or should do. This constantly makes you wonder what you’re missing out – and effectively ruins your trip…
Traveling solo removes that burden.
Following your gut always yields the best result.Pro Tip: This doesn’t mean you should blindly follow your male/female intuition. Research is king. Your intuition is your starting point – do your research to support or dismiss it.
You get to contribute your knowledge
You learn a lot when you travel alone. Whether it’s from short 2 week trips or years around the world.
Why not pass this amazing knowledge forward? Places to visit, things to do, things not do etc’.
Write a book about your experiences, write a blog, leave comments in AirBnB, TripAdvisor, or in this post below! The point is you have some valuable information to share with the world.
So please do. The world needs it.
You will improve your resume
A lot of travelers tell me they are afraid of mentioning that they travelled for a year – as if it’s something they should be ashamed of and hide from their resume.
It’s actually quite the opposite – You should highlight it in HUGE, BOLD LETTERS. It will most likely increase your chances of getting hired (assuming you don’t suck).
Let’s take a look at this random TravelFreak’s resume:
- A year traveling
- Living in 3 different countries
- Learning 2 new languages
- Volunteering in a farm
Not the typical stuff people get to write on their resumes…
This will make you stand out from the same old & boring resumes, and bump your resume to the top of the pile in HR.
When you finally do get an interview – chances are the interviewer will be a lot more interested in hearing about your travel stories and a lot less interested in checking your job compatibility.
You will appreciate your friends & family
We are only able to truly appreciate something when it’s missing. Traveling makes you realise that nothing can or should be taken for granted, and you will start to appreciate the people you care about in your life and truly miss them.
This makes the moment you see them again a lot more special.
You will inspire others
In a world surrounded by conformity and negativity, people are hungry for some inspiration. Let your voice be heard.Click To Tweet
Not necessarily about travel – but to encourage others to take more risks, and to put the old dusty rulebook we’re all given back on the shelf.
Be a lighthouse in the dark (that’s some deep stuff right there).
Because it’s fun!
Wait, this should be #1 on the list! Oh well…
End of the line – Now what?
You’re probably all fired up right now to start planning your next trip.
But the truth is, this won’t hold for too long. In a few seconds/minutes/hours, you’ll get sucked back into your routine, and forget you ever read this post.
You’ll keep reminding yourself about your travel goals, and start working towards it. You don’t have to make any drastic changes. Start by shifting from dreaming about traveling to planning your next trip.
To help you do this and avoid losing momentum, i created a short, sweet, 1 page version of the top 10 reasons you should travel alone. I made it very condensed so it’s easily digested & not too overwhelming.
Do you have any other benefits of solo travel to share with us? Please tell us in the comments. We would love to hear about em’!