If you're anything like me — a stubborn, neurodivergent, queer woman — this article probably can't change your mind about travelling solo. It is simply not happening. The end. But, if you're anything like…well…me again, a hopeless romantic consumed by wanderlust, finding the conviction to do it anyway is something you desperately want.
Luckily, I am generous, but most importantly, I understand. At Backdrop, we love to make sure everybody knows just how transformative travel can be. So, if you get a chance to visit one of the many beautiful places in the world, we don't want you turning it down because you’re scared of going alone.
Whispers: This is the part where you whip out your figurative notepads and pens because I’m going to tell you all about solo travel.
5 benefits of travelling solo
First, I’ll tell you why you should travel on your own — conviction, remember? What can you get out of this admittedly terrifying experience?
A George Addair quote says, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.” And in life, fear isn't only a life or death feeling, it's also discomfort about uncertainty. However, the things we really want usually require that we go get ‘em, despite that discomfort. The uncertainty around you enjoying yourself is enough to cause discomfort about travelling alone. So, let's find out if solo travel really is (or can be) what you want.
1. You make fewer compromises
When travelling with other people, a lot more factors affect your travel plans. For instance, the simple preferences of your partner affect your baecation plans. Now, you can't go to that picturesque sushi place because your partner doesn't like seafood. Don't even get me started on family vacations — especially the ones with kids. My young cousin once refused to get on the boat that was supposed to take us to our holiday beach house. He saw a bigger boat and said it was that one or nothing. In my family, we’re very…convincing. And that is the story of how we spent money that wasn't part of the budget on a bigger boat. (I can't lie, though, I kind of preferred the bigger boat, too.)
On your own, you don't have to worry about factors like these. Your itinerary is concise and requires fewer changes. In fact, you can make up a solocation as you go. Spend a few extra hours in bed. Go to the spa before the restaurant because you're not hungry yet. Everything is up to you, besides the things that really can't be. For example, there are only 24 hours, so you can only do so many things in one day. You might have to make a few compromises then.
2. You don't have to spend too much
I mean, look at my family who had to get a bigger boat because of one kid. Really, though, no matter what crazy-expensive activities you want to engage in, it's only one person. Crazy-expensive gets crazier-expensive when you have to pay twice. “If you can't buy it twice, you can't afford it.” I think I read somewhere that Jay Z said that. Now, I don't know if it’s true, but he's a billionaire. I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about when it comes to money. Anyway, the point is, on a solocation, you only need to spend on yourself. No one knows what you can and can't afford more than you do; you might not necessarily spend better, but you for sure know when to stop so you don't go broke. You don't have to spend too much, but whether or not you do is completely up to you.
3. You can improve (or get new) skills
With Paris as your solo travel destination, you’d want to sharpen your French-speaking skills because you know your French major friend isn't coming with you. Whether you learn a bunch of common phrases before you leave or use the translator on your phone when you get there, your French will be significantly improved by the end of the holiday. When you have to ask a random stranger or three to help take a picture of you because your photographer friend didn't tag along, your people skills can get better. Even your photography skills could get better because you have to improvise — by taking selfies or learning how to use the timer and positioning your phone at the right angle.
Practice, they say, is the best teacher. By doing things on your own, you're picking them up, and you’ll never know when they come in handy.
4. You step out of your comfort zone
Learning those common French phrases or asking people to take pictures of you won't be easy. But that's the point, really. Travelling with people who understand you (and people who would rather do the things you don't want to do) leaves you with no reason to step out of the box you’ve made for yourself in your normal life. Travelling — at least, in this case — is a deviation from your regular routine, and when you do it alone, there's no one to even remind you what your boxes are. You do what needs to be done for you, even if it might not be something you really want to do.
5. It's a confidence booster
Your search for conviction alone, believe it or not, is proof that you're getting ready to defy the odds. When you eventually travel alone (because I’m totally convincing you) and step out of your comfort zone, you’ll push your limits and overcome the discomfort that comes with the uncertainties around solo travel. You’ll realise your ability to take control of situations, even if you’d rather not. And, hopefully, you’ll learn to stop selling yourself short.