“The solo travel movement.”
This is a movement that has been increasing in popularity over the last few years and has started to garner press coverage within that time frame as well. Reputable companies are now dedicating sections of their websites or full articles to the topic of solo travel (including companies such as Travel + Leisure, National Geographic, Forbes, and more!), which is only bringing more information right to our fingertips and thus encouraging this trend to continue in a positive direction.
But what exactly is solo travel? Well, it’s as simple as it sounds. Solo travel is the act traveling and having experiences on your own! Whether you’re traveling internationally or just exploring your hometown, solo travel, and solo experiences in general, can have an incredible impact on your psyche and be great opportunities for self-discovery and self-development.
Now as a precursor to the rest of this article, I have not had the opportunity to travel abroad in any capacity yet (one day!), but I am not unfamiliar with solo experiences! What prompted this article was my most recent trip to New York City. In September 2018, I attended a work marketing event in the daytime in Union Square which ended at 3:00 PM. Instead of traveling home on the train as soon as the work day was over, I decided to explore the city and check out some iconic and unique places I had yet to visit- on my own. I finally explored the Empire State Building, walked through Strand Bookstore and other small shops in Union Square, and even saw a Broadway musical completely alone! (P.S. I saw Waitress and I HIGHLY recommend the show. It has an incredibly funny book by Jessie Nelson and beautiful and catchy music by Sara Bareilles & The Waitress Band.)
The following days, as I recounted my mini-trip to coworkers, family, and friends, and many were surprised to hear I had traveled alone. To me, there was nothing strange about that. I’ve gone to dinner and the movies alone before. I’ve flown in a plane and rode trains and taken Greyhound alone before. I’ve spent time and had experiences prior to this alone before. To me, there was nothing weird about this experience, but to others, it was something strange and completely out-of-the-ordinary; something they had never experienced.
So today, I’m here to tell you to find the courage, take the leap, and spend some quality time with yourself. There are innumerable benefits to solo travel and solo experiences and I do not want you to go through life without being privy to these beautiful self-discovery, and ultimately fun, opportunities.
So here are some of my favorite benefits/things you learn from solo travel and solo experiences:
As I somewhat eluded to above, solo travel helps you find comfort in your own company. Some people are truly uncomfortable and anxious when it comes to solo situations. I cannot deny the validity of how someone else feels, but pushing yourself to have solo experiences, large or small, will slowly start to help you prove to yourself that maybe these situations aren’t as scary as you initially thought.
Traveling solo will also help you hone your decision-making skills. I can firmly say that I am that person that says “I don’t know” when you ask me what I want for dinner. However, when I’m walking around the city alone or deciding to go see a movie or a play, I am forced to ask myself what do I want right now? And the only person who can answer that question in that moment is me! Even when it comes to simple questions such as do I want to stop for a smoothie or for coffee, I know that I am the one who needs to make the decision for something to happen next.
What is also great about solo travel is that it gives you the time to clearly pick out what you want to do- no compromise needed! Your opinion, when on your own, remains uninfluenced by other companion travelers, so you are able to clearly see what you want and then follow through. Compromise is important in so many aspects of our lives, our work life, home life, and within our network of friendships, that sometimes we have a hard time tapping into ourselves and figuring out what we need and what we want. Solo travel is all about listening to that inner voice, getting to know yourself a little better.
When traveling in a group, you have the option of being the leader or a following group member. Group travel doesn’t necessarily work well if you have multiple people directing the group in differing directions- simultaneously. What typically happens is that certain people will opt to take a back seat and follow the emerging leader. When this happens, for many, your level of awareness of direction and your surrounds may drop a little. However, when traveling on your own, you are the leader and so that level of awareness will need to be heighten. For people that are not used to leading the pack, a great way to develop these skills is solo travel because it forces you to become the person you usually rely. Solo travel puts you in the place where you need to be in charge of understanding the layout of your environment, you need to consider safety, you need have street skills ready and on your sleeve. Solo travel is a great way to hone that sense of awareness that you may not otherwise tap into on a regular basis.
This would not be a complete article about solo travel if I did not mention confidence! Confidence is definitely one of the top skills you gain from solo experiences and travel. When you are on your own, you need to rely on your own ability to make sure you get what you need when you need it and say what you need to say when it needs to be said. You are your own representative when traveling alone, so this forces many outside of their comfort zone and to be more vocal and communicative in the situations they find themselves in.
I wish you all the best and hope you have some amazing and eye-opening solo travel experiences. Whether you’re just exploring your own town or you’re traveling internationally, the solo trip is always an adventure. Let me know in the comments section what your favorite solo trip is! What places should I travel to?