Why travel solo? It’s become one of the big questions I seem to hear over and over again; Won’t I get lonely travelling solo? Wouldn’t it be easier with some one else? Is it dangerous to travel solo? Are you worried about being able to meet people?
As a human being with my own wandering mind and natural anxieties all of these questions had crossed my mind. Sure it would be easier and probably cheaper to travel with some one and I’m sure there would be a slight increase is safety but safety isn’t something that bothers me. For the most part I’ve found even the so-called ‘dangerous’ third-world countries like Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala to be some of the most friendly and inviting communities I’ve come across.
For all of the benefits of travelling with a friend there’s an equally big and inviting list of travelling solo.
Freedom: Is there anything as freeing as waking up in a new place filled with endless opportunities for exploring the sights, culture, people and cuisine? I have endless opportunity for exploration and it’s not marred by the usual indecision that comes between people trying to decide what to do. This allows me to go with the flow, ran around town guided purely by my own energy and desires.
This is why I travel.
Meeting New People: As I found out on my last trip, when you travel with friends from home it becomes far too easy and comfortable chat with them rather than getting out there and meeting people. Travelling solo you don’t really have a choice; either you meet new people or stay in your room alone. I met some fantastic people on my last trip, people that I will consider friends for life but I feel I only met a fraction of the people I could have met had I made more of an effort. At the end of the day, it will sound cliche but backpacking is as much about the relationships you form as it is about the actual destinations.
Stepping outside the comfort zone: This is a big one for me. It lies at the core of my backpacking philosophy and it’s the stand-out reason I’ve picked India as my next journey. Travelling for me isn’t about 5 star hotels and first class flights, I want something that will challenge me. It could be anything from skydiving to trying to order food in a foreign language, both these things and everything in between give a great sense of achievement . All forms of backpacking are going to come with moments where you take a trip outside your comfort zone and this is only multiplied when you decide to rock it solo. Adversity goes hand-in-hand with travel, inevitably you’re going to miss flights, check into a dodgy hostel, maybe have something stolen or trek around a town trying to find accommodation. It’s not all doom and gloom though because it’s when you get forced outside your comfort zone that the next point really takes place.
Character Building: I learnt more about myself in 9 months of travel than I had in any other period of my life. I feel as though from the moment I left to the moment I got back I had completely transformed myself as a person. I gained an entirely new perspective on the world around me and discovered passions I wished to pursue, one of them being further travel.
I don’t think you’re ever quite alone when you’re traveling, the backpackers trail is so full of amazing people that you very quickly forget that you got there alone and often end up on adventures you’ll never forget with friends you made over a beer at the hostel the night before.