People often ask me why I travel alone, giving me confused looks and staring incredulously when I tell them I enjoy it more than traveling with others. As an extreme extrovert, it often surprises people that I enjoy solo travel. However, I’ve found throughout the past 6 years that solo travel has given me more flexibility and freedom than any other kind of adventure. If you’re wondering why anyone would ever travel on their own, let me dispel some of the most popular myths for you.
Myth #1: It’s more dangerous than traveling with friends
I’ll be the first to admit that traveling alone can be dangerous – but so can all kinds of travel. If you’ve researched your destination and always remain alert, traveling solo is no more dangerous than traveling with friends. The world can be a scary place, but it is more often a beautiful and welcoming place. I’ve traveled to over 20 countries solo, and I’ve only run into travel twice – once in Paris and once in New York City.
Myth #2: You can’t do as much
Some people are under the impression that by traveling solo, you can’t do as much. Nothing makes my eyes roll harder than this blatant misconception. When you travel solo, you can actually do more than when you’re with friends, because you won’t be stuck waiting around for anyone else. Moreover, you’ll have the freedom not only to do more, but also to do more of the things that you want to do. Don’t like museums? Then don’t go. Don’t like to eat fancy dinners? Then eat street food. When you travel solo, YOU are fully in control of your itinerary.
Myth #3: You won’t make in-depth friendships
If you’ve traveled alone before, you’ll know that people you meet on your trails can often become friends for life. Solo travelers make great friends because you know they’re down to earth, and there’s a “we’re all in this together” type of mentality about it. A friend I met in Myanmar showed us around Amsterdam. Friends I met in Brazil have met me again in Houston and Boston. A guy I met in Thailand is now one of my good friends in Washington, DC. Needless to say, friends I’ve met on my solo adventures have become people I love and trust in my everyday life.
Myth #4: Eating alone will suck
Why is there such a strong stigma against eating alone? First of all, when traveling solo, you never have to eat alone if you don’t want to. Just walk up to someone sitting in your hostel lobby, strike up a conversation, and suggest grabbing a bite to eat. Sure, it will take a bit of extra work to find people to hang out and dine with. However, it’s worth it for the great conversation and lifelong friendships that may happen as a result.
Myth #5: You’ll be screwed in an emergency
One of the worst medical emergencies of my life happened when I was traveling solo – my appendix ruptured. Because I was alone, I had to rely on the help of travel insurance, friendly strangers and new friends to get through my surgery and recovery. When all was said and done, I recovered fully – and came away from the experience with a handful of amazing new friends.
Myth #6: You’ll be bored
It’s easy to assume that traveling without someone else would be a boring experience. After all, there’s no one to talk to, right? WRONG. Traveling solo gives you the freedom to choose your own pace and your own conversations. It can be an introspective and reflective experience, or an exploration of new people and new cultures. You may be overwhelmed with the abundance of options available to you, but you surely won’t be bored while traveling solo.
Myth #7: It’s lonely
We so often equate being alone with being lonely. When traveling, this is rarely the case. In my solo travels, I’ve found one of two things – a) I’m content with being on my own because it gives me a break from people, or b) it challenges me to learn how to connect with others and make friends in unusual circumstances. Part of the reason why I love traveling solo so much is because I get to choose the amount of interaction I have with others. It’s such a nice feeling to be fully independent and in charge of myself, and having the luxury of being able to connect with others when it makes sense. Traveling solo doesn’t have to be lonely, and in fact, it rarely is!
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If you’re planning on going abroad, we always recommend purchasing travel insurance. Not only does travel insurance protect you in an emergency, but it also gives you the peace of mind knowing that you’re covered. Our favorite insurance provider is World Nomads, they’ve always had our backs through medical emergencies and more.
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