If you’ve never travelled alone before, let me be the one to tell you that the benefits far outweigh any fear that you may have. There’s a first-time for everything and I can promise that a solo trip will transform your life in many ways.
I was so nervous to travel solo so I started off doing a Contiki tour on my own, where I met friends, then gained the confidence on that trip to head out on myself after. 40+ countries later and I regret nothing. The benefits of travelling alone will impact you and your life in only good ways. As easy as it is to say, don’t let fear stop you from incredible experiences abroad!
Prefer to listen? This post is also available as a podcast episode on the Happy Tracks Podcast.
Top Advantages of Travelling Alone
While I honestly believe that the benefits of solo travel are endless, these are most certainly the top reasons why you should give travelling alone a go.
The #1 reason that I personally think travelling alone has so much value is because it increases one’s confidence. What better way is there to try new things, to force yourself out of your comfort zone, and to grow than by throwing yourself into a new situation, country, culture, etc? Travelling solo gives you the opportunity to build your confidence by trying new things every single day. Usually more than that, multiple times a day actually! Confidence comes with trying and that’s all that travel is, trying new foods, going new places, staying in new places, trying to figure out the local transport system, and figuring out how things work. All of this constant learning that comes from trying new things and being surrounded by the unknown builds confidence quickly and will skyrocket your self-esteem.
If it wasn’t for solo travel I’d still be scared to do many things, such as eating alone at a restaurant, even at home here in Canada. I used to be so shy to do things alone, I never had the confidence to even try at home. But since being abroad I get to tell myself, “If I did it in x destination, why can’t I at home?” It’s a game-changer.
READ MORE: Scared to Travel Solo? Here’s What To Do
Get to know yourself more intimately
Through a combination of spending more time with yourself and trying new things, solo travel allows you to truly get to know yourself, if you allow it. Sure, there are many ways to distract yourself while travelling, but if you begin to pay attention more to your likes, wants, and needs, you’ll quickly get to know yourself on a more intimate level. When home it’s even easier to distract yourself with friends, family, and the familiar around. It’s easy to do things without thinking twice about it such as making your favourite cup of tea or riding the same transit route to work.
When travelling you don’t have the familiar. And when you’re travelling solo you don’t always have someone to guide you or make choices for you. You get to choose each and every part of your day and you think about it more. You’re able to reflect on the choices that you would subconsciously make at home, but while on the road they’re more conscious and easier for you to get to know yourself through these constant choices.
Enjoy spending time with yourself
Sometimes solo travel is filled with meeting new friends and spending your days exploring with total strangers. Other days it’s navigating new streets completely by yourself. This is something that can be totally nerve-wracking and scary, but it also gives you the chance to enjoy spending time with yourself. When you have no one else around to make choices or to bounce ideas off of, you really do get to enjoy spending time with yourself because you have no choice but to just be with you!
It’s easy at home to avoid being by yourself but when on the road, sometimes it’s not an option. And that’s perfectly okay. Being by yourself gives you so much space and as someone you used to run away from myself and my thoughts (I was using travel as a form over escapism versus expansion), I feared these solo travel days.
It’s okay to want to spend time with other people but my confidence always skyrocketed on the days when I explored on my own and I got to listen to my thoughts. Eventually, I learned the things I loved doing by myself and always had a book on hand for when I didn’t feel like being totally by myself as a distraction.
Learn to rely on yourself
There is no way I’d be the strong, independent woman who will try anything that I am today if it wasn’t for solo travel. One of the best benefits of travelling alone is learning how to rely on yourself and figure shit out all on your own. It’s getting yourself into situations that you don’t want to deal with and finding a way out. It’s making mistakes and having faith that you’ll figure it out. It’s recognizing that sometimes it’s just you and only you.
Solo travel leaves you completely by yourself at times and as much as you plan there will always be mistakes, confusion, and moments of regret where you want to scream. It’s working through these moments that will continue to give you the confidence to keep going. It’s these moments that will teach you that you truly can get through anything. It’s these moments that boost your self-esteem and teach you that everything is, to quote Marie Forleo, “figureoutable”. Take these moments and use them at home where it will be 10x easier to figure out.
It’s becomes easier to make friends
One of the top benefits of solo travel is that making friends is so much easier, especially when staying in hostels. It’s very easy to approach someone when they’re on their own so if you’re sitting by yourself in a hostel or even at a cafe or restaurant or gazing at some art in a museum, know that you may be approached!
This is nothing to be scare of. It will encourage you to get familiar with talking to strangers. And it will surely make you realize that strangers often have far more in common than you thought. Making friends and talking to strangers is a skill that many who stay at home don’t learn. I’d say there’s an exception for those who work in retail or hospitality, but it’s different when on the road and knowing that you’re not just there to help a customer. This skill of being able to make friends and talk to strangers will honestly make life so much more interesting and you’ll be able to talk to anyone about a number of subjects which in turn makes you a very interesting person too.
Get out of your comfort zone
I’m not going to lie, sometimes when I travel alone I have days where I don’t want to get out of bed and explore. I would much prefer to stay in bed and watch Netflix because it’s familiar. Being in a new place makes it a lot easier to generally get myself out of bed and exploring. When at home it’s even easier to just stay put and comfortable. I know cities abroad better than I do my own home city. But learning to get out of my comfort zone abroad has taught me how to do it at home too.
Getting out of your comfort zone also increases confidence, boosts self-esteem, and shows you every single day that you are a traveller, and that you can do it. Travelling solo encourages you to keep going because you know you won’t always have this moment to get out of your comfort zone again or to see the beauty of wherever you are.
Solo travel is good for your well-being
Yes, you read that right. Travel has an impact on your mental health and science proves it. A study from 2002 at the University of Surrey investigated whether those who had a holiday booked had a boost in their mental health. The answer: yes! Having a vacation booked and with something to look forward to showed a boost in happiness and overall joy.
A more recent study from 2014 at Cornell University showed that having an experience to look forward to (aka travel) versus getting something (aka a material possession) can also lead to more happiness.
So there you have it, travel is good for your overall happiness and well-being so don’t wait for anyone else. If you want to go, it’s literally good for your health!
Travel relieves stress
Travelling is also said to help relieve stress. How so? By removing yourself from the environments that you associate with stress you’re able to experience stress less. Am I saying that travel is stress-free? Absolutely not, there are plenty of things to worry about that cause stress when travelling but the happiness you’ll feel and the new experiences you get will most definitely outweigh any general travel stress and your stress from at home too.
Spending time alone makes you happier
According to Forbes, spending time alone has a number of benefits, including increased empathy, creativity, productivity, and it can help to build mental strength. While spending time alone isn’t specific to travel, travelling solo can certainly help boost all of these things too. Being alone helps you get to know yourself more, and the more you know yourself, the happier you’ll be because you can make decisions that are best for you both on and off the road.
Have the freedom to make choices you want
A solo adventure truly gives you a ton of freedom, perhaps much more freedom than you’ve ever had to make choices that you want. When you’re travelling with friends or family you will most likely have to compromise at points. When you’re solo you don’t have to at all! This freedom will contribute to your confidence and when back at home you’ll be able to do more for yourself too, which is never a bad thing.
Be forced to make decisions and solve problems
Problem-solving is a major life skill that, let’s be real, many people don’t have! Travellers learn to develop this skill and when you travel solo you’ll develop it extra fast because it’s just you to figure things out. Plus you’ll learn how to make decisions faster and second guess yourself less which can most certainly cause less mental stress on yourself.
You’ll become much more self-aware
Self-awareness is another skill that takes time to develop. And it so it worth it to develop it. Being aware of yourself, your likes, wants, and needs will truly transform your life and help you to understand yourself better. When you’re self-aware you’ll be able to avoid things that can trigger (for lack of a better word) you and learn to guide yourself into habits, thought patterns, and situations with friends and family that feel better.
You can be whoever you want
You may be unaware of it because you’re at home, but ask yourself, “Am I putting on a show for others and how they expect me to be?”. Are you truly the person you want to be? Do you want to change? Or are you playing a character you think you should be? Such as the happy partner, the loving child, the workaholic?
This may sound brutal to some, but honestly getting out and travelling solo gives you the space to be who you want to be because you have no one from home judging you or watching you. When you travel and you’re constantly surrounded by strangers and none of them are going to tell you that you’re different or changing and sometimes that’s all you need to figure out who you truly are or want to be. You’re free to be who you’ve always wanted to be or even experiment with being different. You get to try on the character you think you want to be away from those who are used to seeing you only one way.
Come out on the other side a better person
I’m a big believer that travel makes us all better people. I don’t think it’s possible to come home and be a worse person (or the same) after seeing how the world is a little or a lot more different. I believe travel teaches us all compassion, to be more open, accepting, and loving. It may not be a massive shift for you but it will certainly open your eyes to things at home because you’ll be able to see your country, city, and the people around you at home in a new light.
Form deeper connections with others
Aside from it becoming easier to make friends, travel will truthfully teach you how to form deeper connections with yourself and others. There’s something about meeting a stranger on the road that gives you the confidence to throw out most small talk and get into deep questions. Don’t be surprised if a stranger you met that day is asking you why you continue to do your job or your honest reasons for travelling. While it’s definitely still possible to fall more into small talk at home, you might crave deeper connections to those around you and travelling solo can spark this.
Enjoy your future travels dear reader!