5 Badass Reasons to Travel Solo
Lessons learned from two and a half years of solo travel
Traveling solo I didn’t necessarily set out to “find myself” but rather to find out just what I could do if I put my mind to it. And it turns out that what you can do when you travel solo is pretty badass.
I spent over two and a half years backpacking India, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. I met incredible people and wildlife alike, made numerous mistakes and triumphs in equal measure, and even encountered the odd near-death experience.
I’m here to tell you why solo travel is the coolest and why you should jump right in.
1. You will find out that you are more competent than you think you are
I’d always suffered from low self-esteem and underestimated myself. There are certain things that I thought that I was bad at and couldn’t do, so I resigned myself to not doing them. I thought that I was bad at languages, directions, haggling, talking to people, and figuring out local transport. Those things, I let my friends or my ex do while I shrank into the background.
But, like anything, it only takes practice, and if you don’t do something, of course, you’re not going to get any better at it.
Traveling solo, you can’t be dependent on other people. You have to depend on yourself. You will realize that these things aren’t as big or scary as you’d built them up to be in your head.
You will find that not only can you do them, but often you can do them well. You’ll surprise yourself by quickly navigating to the hotel, buying tickets, and ordering dinner in Spanish. You’ll work out how to get places at a crowded Indian bus station.
You’ll chat to tour guides and ask all the questions that you need. You’ll haggle the price of that beach throw down at the market. Then you’ll smile at yourself and think, “See. I can do it.” It will push you to do things that you thought you couldn’t do. You will become completely independent and self-reliant.
2. Autonomy — do whatever you want, whenever you want.
I can not stress what a wonderful and liberating thing this is! You don’t need to compromise with anyone. No-one. You are free to do as you please. The first time I went to Bali, we stayed in Kuta. It was not my personal choice of place, but my ex wanted to go surfing. I tried surfing, and I was happy to try it, but it’s not for me, as it turns out.
I was stuck then in a part of the island I didn’t like, doing an activity I didn’t like either. When I went back to Bali on my own, I stayed in Canggu, a much more chill, boho vibe that’s more me. I made the holiday into a personalized yoga retreat. I enjoyed lots of yoga classes, massages, shopping at little markets, long walks, a wonderful trip to Ubud, and a glorious cooking course. It was nice to be selfish and to do things for me.
Traveling alone, you only have your budget to consider. You don’t have to miss out on something because your friend can’t afford it. You don’t have to be talked into doing something that you can’t afford. Same with your comfort zone. You don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. You don’t have to miss out on that gondola ride because your friend is scared of heights.
Decide that you don’t like a place, no worries, you can leave early. Fall in love with somewhere, you can stay longer. The world is your oyster: yours and yours alone. Learn what it is that you want. Yes, it’s a cliché, but you will find out a lot about yourself and what makes a trip for you.
3. You will develop some serious street smarts
There’s something about traveling alone that heightens your senses. You become very aware of your safety, make the right decisions, and look after yourself. You pay more attention. You listen to your gut instinct. Your Spidey senses will tingle. You will learn how to spot red flags and sniff out bullshit because you have to.
My first solo trip was something of a baptism of fire. I backpacked India alone. Was it safe? Not always. Was it easy? No. Would I do it again? Absolutely. As a young, white, single female, there was so much to worry about. Simple things like making sure I covered up and dressed appropriately. I didn’t walk alone anywhere at night.
I did my transport during the day as much as possible. I was aware if someone was following me and had an exit strategy. I was always skeptical of trusting men who appeared to be overly friendly. I made sure I had my bearing and knew where I was and how I could get home.
This hyper-awareness wasn’t always comfortable or fun, but it helped stop me from making mistakes. Mistakes that I may have made had I been lured into a sense of false security from being with someone else.
4. You’ll meet more people
The first time I went away backpacking, it was with an ex-boyfriend. We met people but nowhere near as many as I met on my own on later solo travels. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, a problem when you travel as a couple is that you aren’t as approachable. People make the assumption. “Oh, they’re a couple, they want to do couple things, they want to be together, and they don’t want a third wheel.” Now sometimes that’s true.
Sometimes you might want a romantic day, but for the most part, you are already spending 24 hours a day together. You are desperate to talk to SOMEONE ELSE!
Secondly, we came as a package. You weren’t just my friend; you were also his friend. He was what you might call “A bit of a character”. I think that many people who weren’t OUR friends would have been MY friend and vice versa.
Lastly, you never have to worry about being alone; you always have company. It’s comfortable, it easy, and it’s dependable. If you don’t want to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and talk to strangers, then you don’t have to.
It’s similar when you travel with a friend or with a group. People aren’t afraid to spoil your romance, but it might still be a bit intimidating. It’s hard to interrupt people who already have a history and a connection. To fit in when they tell in-jokes, and reference stories you don’t know.
When it’s only you, you’re approachable. Sometimes people even want to take you under their wing, “Awww, that girl’s on her own. Shall we ask her if she wants to come with us?”
It’s effortless to tag along, change, or make new plans because you don’t need to check in with your partner or friend. That autonomy I talked about makes it very easy to flow and go along with new people and say yes. “Yes, I’d love to go on that day trip.” “Yes, I’d love to go with you to that museum.” “Yes, let’s all go out tonight!”
You will speak to people because you have to, you need to. You will be fun, outgoing, and confident because you can be. Before this, you may think that you can’t, but you can. You will ask if you can join that fun table’s quiz group, go on the hostel pub crawl, speak to that sweet girl at breakfast and invite people along to that day trip you’ve got planned.
You’ll become more confident and realize that you are a person that people want to be friends with. Social confidence and the ability to talk to anybody is something that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. You’ll never feel as awkward at a party again.
5. You will also have a lot of alone time to self-reflect
So yes, you will make lots of new friends, but there will also be periods when you will have to spend time alone. You will learn how to be comfortable in your own company. And that’s not a bad thing. You will find out that you can go for dinner alone, savor the taste of your meal, and get lost in a book.
You can stroll around a museum or art gallery unaccompanied and take as long as you like to stare at your favorite piece. You will sit and watch the sunset by yourself and bask in your memories of your trip and your life so far.
It will feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. But one day you will relish this time. You will even start to crave it if you’re around lots of people for too long.
One of my favorite days in India was the first day I enjoyed being alone. I was in Rishikesh, and I went to the Beatle’s ashram. It’s abandoned and covered in street art. I put my headphones in and blasted my most upbeat tunes. I didn’t care what I looked like as there was nobody there to see me.
I danced and bopped around the ashram, exploring all the rooftops and honeycomb pods, climbing up ladders, and peering into empty rooms. I got used to using my tripod and timer on my camera to take photographs of myself with the art.
I laughed at some of the failures and how quick I had to try and run to beat the timer. I had a blast and a completely different experience than I would have quietly and politely wandering around with somebody else. It was reckless abandon, and I loved it.
I hope these reasons were badass enough for you. Let me know if you can think of any more! I’m sure that you can because solo travel is as liberating as it is terrifying! It’s been the best couple of years of my life and a steep learning curve. I invite you to give it a try and to find out just what you’re capable of.
Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome and your support is very much appreciated.
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About the author
Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest
Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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