~ Sprinkled throughout this post are pictures of some incredible people I met along the way during my solo traveling journeys! They are easily some of the most beautiful individuals that I was lucky enough to come across. ~
Solo travel…. What a thought.
After my favorite semester of college (being abroad), I spent quite a bit of time talking to friends a bit older than I was about what they did after graduation. I wanted to give myself a well deserved graduation vacation once my undergrad career finished.
These friends told me about what an adventure it was for them when they spent weeks or months solo traveling after their graduations.
I have been on planes by myself and spent time alone…but never had I ever solo traveled up to that point in my life. I knew I had big plans for myself post graduation, and the only way those plans were going to come true was if I braved up and went about them alone.
After weeks of planning during the summer of 2019, I did it. I went on my first month-long solo travel adventure in September of 2019. I had so much fun that I did it again in December of 2019 for another month. I couldn’t get enough. I was addicted to this travel bug inside me! (I still am honestly).
I won’t spend this time writing about what I did during those adventures. I am going to express the joy these adventures brought me, the importance of solo travel, and why I believe everyone should experience this very adventure at least once in their lifetimes.
Before I begin going into why this experience is so crucial…….. I want to start right now by saying if you are waiting for people to go places with or are dependent on other people to enjoy travel…..stop. Stop that mentality ASAP because you’re missing the entire point of travel. Don’t let your friends hold you back from having some of the best travel experiences ever.
I guarantee you will find other friends during your journey, and who knows…. You might be like me and just meet some of your closest friends while solo traveling.
Alrighty, ya made it to the juicy bits! Now that you’re ready to keep learning about why this is so beneficial for your soul, here are some benefits of solo traveling and why I prefer it over going on trips with people:
(don’t get me wrong…. I love trips with my friends, but I’d choose going alone in a heartbeat if the options were presented to me)
The BIGGEST and best reason to solo travel in my opinion is that this is a perfect opportunity for personal growth.
This type of adventure forces you out of your bubble in the best way possible. You will grow more independent as you won’t always have someone to depend on for daily plans and directions. No worries though y’all! Most likely, locals are going to be willing to help if you make the effort to ask what you are looking for if you are confused.
If you are like me and don’t/didn’t have a phone plan that works in the area you are/were traveling in, then yes you will be dependent on wifi for when you want to use your phone. I encourage you to take this time to step away from your phone as much as possible. It is far too often we are glued to our phones nowadays and miss the simplicity and beauty within our surroundings. I rarely used my phone during the daytime when I embarked on my first solo travel experience, but this allowed me to detach and stay present in my reality. If you need google maps or to make a phone call, it is probably going to be easy for you to find a Starbucks or a local shop that has free wifi available (depending on where you are-cities are usually okay!). Otherwise let yourself wander and ask locals for directions because you will be able to see more of your area if you let yourself just go.
You will also become a hundred times more confident with yourself as you grow to realize how capable you are of world travel by yourself. (I believe in y’all, so believe in yourselves!). Regardless of language barriers or lack of directional sense, you will start to realize that you can trust the decisions you’ve made because they fulfill your desires. Again, help is everywhere! In your hostel, on the streets, in shops, everywhere! You are never truly alone. There are definitely others in the same boat as you, especially if you embark in areas that are extremely touristy. Be confident in your actions and decisions.
The biggest learning lesson for me was getting to reevaluate my values. When you’re taken out of the place that you were raised in, you realize most, the things you truly value in life. It really takes leaving to learn what you really might want from your life or realize the types of places you could see yourself building a life in. This is where you can learn the most about yourself.
This is a way of gaining freedom.
When traveling with people, it is easy to fall in a trap of holding back what you desire, or you sacrifice in order to keep the interests of the group ahead of your own wishes. The best part for me being alone was knowing that I could wake up at whatever time suited me without feeling like I was holding someone else’s agenda back. It is liberating not feeling guilty about sleeping in or going to bed way too late. As a night owl, I thoroughly enjoy sleeping in!
Being able to create a loose itinerary that follows everything you want to explore is another aspect of solo travel that is freeing. Again comes difficulty with groups because fitting in everyone’s desires (especially if they are quite different from yours) is a hassle with a time crunch. If you want to eat local foods… do it! If you want to only explore nature…do it! Do everything you want to with no regrets and no guilt! This is the time to let loose and be free!
When I say I met some of my closest friends while solo traveling (y’all know who you are😊)… I meant it!
You are a million times more approachable when you are alone than when you are in a group of people. This makes sense when you think about it. If you are someone who struggles to enjoy their own company, then start by staying in hostels rather than AirBNB’s. Hostels are the perfect place to meet people, and there are probably more solo travelers there than you might expect. I would spend free time or nights in the hostel lobby/bars because I knew there would be a chance of finding friendly faces.
You are never really alone when you are traveling, again, and it’s because there are many people like you probably doing the same thing. Don’t be afraid to say hi to someone that is just chilling on their own (or even in a group!). Saying hi never hurts. Did I mention how you can maybe make some awesome friends by meeting people this way like I did?? Well…YOU CAN! It is seriously one of the most rewarding experiences learning about why others are traveling where you are. Sometimes it feels like a miracle that you are in the same place as this new friend you might make! I was also lucky enough to have some amazing roommates in the hostels I stayed at, and some of these people became my adventure partners during the day. This is not because I was lonely, but more because these new friends were interested in the same adventures I was. Spending time with new people did make a difference in my travels for sure.
Last tidbit yet still crucial…I can guarantee you will probably keep a better track of your budget and save quite a bit of moneyzzz!
When you get to decide where you want to eat and stay at all times, you might be more frugal (which can be a good thing). Spend money on the most important things to you. Maybe that is a tour, food, or souvenirs. Splurge where you WANT…not on NEEDS (accommodation or transportation). This is because I can assure you, you probably won’t be spending all day everyday in your room if you’re in a new city! Also saving money on trains and choosing a bus sometimes can save you a good amount of money even if it might take more time to reach a destination via the bus.
Again, escaping the pressure of pleasing everyone is impossible when you need to consider everyone’s needs in group situations. I was more careful about where I ate and the kinds of food I’d buy because I had the freedom to be particular solo traveling. Alone I was able to cut expenditure on food without feeling pressured to eat certain places. Since I also eat plant-based foods only, I had to spend a bit more time in some cities finding restaurants that catered to this dietary need. Some countries are really meat-heavy in their diet culture, so it is a little difficult to maybe find lots of vegan options. You could definitely save money, in this case, on food and buy groceries instead! Maybe a dietary restriction might help you consider the way you spend money on food just the way it did for me!
There are tons of free activities you can partake in including roaming city centers without tour guides and free museums in many cities. Some tours are also free or cost a very low amount of money. Staying in hostels over AirBNB or hotels is a great way to save money, as well, especially for younger travelers like myself. Walking everywhere (if possible and safe) is another perfect way to save money on your transportation budget, and you get the wonderful pleasure of being able to see a whole lot more in the area by walking.
***OH! Get some nice people to capture a picture or two of you because you’ll want that memory! Don’t be like me who forgets to take pictures of herself like always…oops!
If it isn’t obvious by now, I am a HUGE supporter of solo traveling. If this giant list of reasons isn’t convincing you…. Gimme a call and let’s chat! I am sure I can convince you one way or another that you won’t regret this experience. Also, think about all the fun stories you will get to tell your loved ones after your trip is over! These memories are worth every penny you will spend on them!
So once it is safe to travel again, (#pandemicproblems) all y’all should book that trip! Do it! No time for wasting or waiting because life is too short y’all, and we aren’t getting any younger.
And if you do…. Share your journey with the Tulip Travelers (via email or instagram messages) because we LOVE talking travel obvi!😊
To conclude my excitement… for now… take two pieces of “not-so-Random Ria” thoughts with you that I live by, on your future journeys:
*Solitude can be so sweet*
*Those of you who can learn to enjoy your own company…..are the ones that are going to succeed at this game called life, especially in traveling*