I decided to follow up on a previous post of mine, why choose to travel long term? by analysing another aspect of my future trip: solo travel.
The title of this post is somewhat misleading. Choose to travel solo? I didn’t have a choice. For those of you who have been following along, you’ll know I was originally planning on traveling the world with my long-term boyfriend. I’d been talking about travel from the age of 16, but I always assumed I would be accompanied by someone else. As my departure date reached the one year mark, my boyfriend and I started to look at this trip seriously and make some solid plans. Late last year, however, we decided it would be best for us to part ways.
Rather than giving up my dreams and thinking it wouldn’t be possible to travel anymore, I did the opposite. I started tentatively thinking about the idea of going it alone. At first it was just a pipe dream, but the more I researched the more I discovered that there are lots of females out there, traveling solo and having the best time ever.
Although it wasn’t an initial choice of mine, the more I’ve thought about it and the more I’ve planned and researched, the more I’ve realised that I want this! I want to travel solo. It makes so much more sense for me as a person to do so, and I’m confident that I made the right decision.
Why, given the choice, would I deliberately choose to travel alone?
The first point for me is freedom. Planning with my boyfriend made me realise that our trip would be about compromise. Being such different people, we both wanted different things. We wanted to go to different places and do different things. I wanted to stay in hostels, he wanted more luxury, I wanted to party across South-East Asia, and he did not. I don’t think you should have to compromise for a trip this important and life-changing. I understand that you should make small compromises in order to make your partner happy, but we were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum! Now I get to go wherever I want whenever I want, and do whatever I want. It’s pure freedom. I’ll be able to have a completely lazy day if I want and not have to feel guilty, and I can go somewhere I want without having to worry if my partner doesn’t want to do the same.
To be able to force myself into awkward situations. When I’m with someone I tend to take a backseat when it comes to having to deal with anything. I let them sort out money, visas, where to stay, everything! When I’m on my own, I’ll be forced out of my comfort zone and have to sort out everything by myself. While this is a scary prospect to me right now, it’s also exciting. I don’t have much confidence in unfamiliar situations, but there’s no way to gain it unless I put myself out there and force myself to deal with it. If I was traveling with someone else, I know I wouldn’t have to force myself to do anything, and I’d always have someone there to fall back on which I would take advantage of. I want to get out of my comfort zone!
To meet other travellers and make lots of friends. While I’m sure that as you travel in a group you are able to meet other people and travellers, I’ve also heard a lot that if you travel this way you are less approachable. I understand that. If I saw a group of travellers and then another solo traveler then nine times out of 10 I would approach the person alone. I know that if I did travel with a partner then it would be more than likely that most of the time we’d keep ourselves to ourselves and not make a huge effort to make friends. We’d have each other, and plan things to do together. On my own, I’ll be forced into situations where I may feel lonely, and at these times I want to be able to make friends and interact with other travelers. A huge part of traveling for me will be to meet other travelers – To hear all about their lives and adventures they’ve been on.
To be happy with just being Lauren. This is a point which is very personal to me. Ever since the age of sixteen, it feels like I’ve always been in a relationship, and it’s true. I’ve never taken the time to enjoy being single and enjoy my own company. I’ve always been part of a couple — Lauren and whoever. I think part of me feels like I can’t be happy on my own, and that I always need someone there for me to look after me and care for me. I don’t think this is healthy and I now believe that actually, in order to be happy in a relationship, you need to learn to be able to happy on your own first. By traveling alone and having to depend on nobody but me I think that it will open my eyes and allow me to see that it is possible to be happy alone, and that I definitely don’t need a man in my life to make me happy!
Of course, as well as the advantages, there are disadvantages too. Not being able to share all of my experiences with someone I care about, not having anyone to take loads of photos of me(!), nobody to care for me if I’m sick or help me out if I get in any kind of trouble… The list goes on…
But.. Despite those reasons, if I was given the option I would absolutely still choose to travel solo. It may not be right for some people, but it’s definitely right for me!
What are your reasons for want to travel solo or as a couple/group? Which do you think is best in your opinion?