We all know of that friend of a friend who quit their day job, sold all their possessions and travelled the world alone with nothing to their name but a backpack. You may have even dreamt something similar for yourself. How liberating it would be!
But let’s get back to reality, not all of us have the luxury of giving up our steady paychecks, as well as leaving behind all the little commitments we call life.
However, that doesn’t mean you should disregard the entire idea of travelling alone all together. Whether it’s a week-long jaunt to London or a month-long excursion to the foot hills of the Himalayas, travelling alone is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime and trying it out on a smaller scale will give you a better understanding if it’s something for you.
But before you jet set off, there are a few misconceptions that need to be addressed and I’m here to show you there’s a brighter side to these concerns.
It’s Not Safe
Let’s get this big one out of the way. It’s true in some cities safety can be a big concern and having a travel buddy can instantly make you feel more protected. But, if a team of pickpockets takes a particular liking to your camera, having a travel buddy won’t necessarily deter them from acting on it.
Instead, learn to travel safer. Learn to protect your valuables, be knowledgeable of local scams, be more aware of your surroundings and in general, be street smart. If you normally wouldn’t go out at night without having solid transportation plans to get back to your accommodations in your home city, why would you start now?
From personal experience, I found locals and other travellers actually take extra care with solo travellers. Locals may find it odd and peculiar for someone to want to travel alone and so they most often go out of their way to help you. Whereas fellow travellers understand what it can feel like to be travelling solo and will often be more willing to extend an invitation to join them or provide assistance.
You’ll Get Lonely
Yes, a travel partner is a guaranteed friendly face in a foreign country. You’ll never have to do an activity alone or be placed in an awkward social situation. However, what many people don’t realize is how easy it is to meet people when travelling. Meeting other travellers is especially easy, as travel and the destination you’re in are already a common interest.
I found that some of my most unlikely friendships were made just because we spoke the same language. We’d bonded simply because we could understand each other. And when you’re not making new friends, you may realize and even appreciate the little bit of alone time you get here and there.
Which is the exact reason why you should do it! When we’re travelling with a partner, we don’t realize just how much we actually rely on the other person. Travelling with a companion is still a great way to explore and to strengthen your relationship with them, but that’s just it, how about your relationship with yourself?
Taking the plunge to travel alone empowers you to experience it entirely on your own. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone, you won’t have a familiar face to rely on and you’ll find yourself in situations you would never plan yourself to be in. But all these opportunities will give you the chance to tap into skills you never knew you had or learn something new about yourself.
Yes, it’s intimidating and potentially stressful, but you’ll undoubtedly come out a stronger and more independent person. Just take it step-by-step, like visiting a neighboring city alone for a weekend.
You never know, with these tips in hand, you may never want to travel with a partner again!
Photo credit: Charmaine Kong: Cycling through the ancient temples of Ayutthaya, Thailand