There are many articles on the internet that tell you why it is good to travel solo, like 10 reasons, 16 reasons, etc. For me, none of those articles make any sense.
For instant: it is cheaper? No way, hotel rooms are paid for anyway, and usually 2-p. bedrooms, so company can tag along at the same price. Transportation costs? It depends, same as with food. If you travel on a motorbike like me, a passenger can join. And if you travel together you just need to adjust the budget or let the other person pay half.
Same with meeting new people, also one of the reasons often given, is character based. You meet new people, but making friends, as they suggest is character based, I love being on my own, and I do not need to deepen contact with people I meet. And when you travel with a partner, you also can meet new people.
After reading some articles on the subject I decided that it is personal preference why solo travel might be a good idea, or not
So instead of sharing with you some random tips on the benefits of solo travel, I choose to share mine. And maybe, maybe, you recognize yourself in some of them. That would be great. For it is safe to travel solo, even for women. As long as you use your gut feeling and common sense.
So why do I like to travel solo? First of all: at the moment I do not travel solo. Well, 50/50 I guess. I travel with my son. We are on this amazing motorcycle trip through the Philippines as I write this article. I traveled solo for many years. And I guess being on the road with my grown-up son, makes me reflect on the benefits of solo travel and traveling with a (male) companion.
Here we go:
1. I’m in charge
I am a strong personality, and I love to make decisions on my own, it may take a while before some action is taken, but I love being the only one in my own plans. I can eat whenever and wherever I like, which also has an effect on my budget: I can be stingy one day and abundant the next. Same with overnight stays. I can book a luxurious resort or a Filipino-style resort with only cold showers and nipa rooms.
I love to be able to turn left or right, or not without consulting my travel companion. And when I need help with the motorbike I just ask a local.
I keep track of my budget and motorcycle costs in my apps and there is no confusion about who pays what. Or awkward moments like maybe it is your turn to pay.
I guess I’m enough of a loner to love solitude, although I can crave company. I’m only human
2. I get to know myself better
With every step I take or every mile I ride, I learn something about myself. That I can do it, that I can kill that huge spider or cockroach in my room. That I can cross a hanging bridge. That I like being alone over being in the company of others. That I do not fear solitude.
Even now, when traveling with my son, we have different time schedules. I get up very early in the morning to have my solo time. He likes to stay up late to have his. We ride together, we discover together, but we learn about ourselves all by ourselves.
I love being alone, but there are moments, like lonely nights or challenging occasions, or beautifying moments that I love to share with someone special. I’m only human, Solitude for humans is not destiny it is a choice.
And sometimes this choice is not made full-heartedly. Solitude can have a dark side. It is only by experience I know now, how to balance it properly.
I learn to embrace both my good and bad sides and realize they make me who I am
3. I cross the boundaries of my comfort zone
Taking that left turn I talked about before sometimes ends up on a dirt road. God, I hate dirt roads. In the Philippines, I rode a touring bike and they are not suitable for rocky roads with lots of sand or mud. But I can do it. I learn how to. I learn how to handle situations like emergency nightly evacuations because of a hotel fire. I learn how to ride at night. I learn how to say ‘no’ to the endless stream of beggars and Filipino people thinking I am a money grab.
I have to learn how to feel safe, how to overcome fear, and how to handle situations I never pictured myself in.
I have to ask for help from total strangers, like the other day when my bike was stuck in the sand and I could not pull the 150 kilos out. Most men love to be the knight in shining armor, but most of the time it comes with a lecture about women riding a clutch motorbike.
I have trouble asking for help, especially when I already know there is a downside to it: the lecture about women and tour bikes
4. I reflect on my experiences better when I’m alone
I’ve learned to reflect on situations by myself. Did, in the past, I call upon a friend? Now I reflect in silence. Or under the shower talking out loud to myself. I can be my own judge and juror. I seek my learning curve in situations that stick to the emotional side of me and tend to use up too much energy. How to avoid that, what to learn from it, and do I need to handle things differently in the future? Sometimes the answer is plain yes, other days I have to accept that life comes the way it comes and shit sometimes happens I cannot stop the world from turning.
5. It makes me stronger
After reading all these points, this last one cannot come as a surprise. I guess it is a natural cause. When you do the thing you love most, seek your learning curve in daily life, and are not afraid to even embrace your darkest moments, you will grow. It will make you stronger.
Enjoying the good in life is easy. But it is those moments of reclusiveness, pain, sorrow, and heartache, of trial, that make you strong. Building up life experience makes you strong. It gives you a world vision that will differ from those you left behind in that place you called home. You will know right from wrong better and all the greys in between. And yes, there will be confusing days in your life, but they become easier to deal with, because you know they will pass and take the confusion with them.
At least, that is how it works for me.
Solo travel is not for everyone. My suggestion is you try it first at home, in your own country, for a few days, then a few weeks. Before you step into a totally different culture, language, and faraway country.
It is easier to get on the next bus or train home than to have to fly through time zones when you get stuck in solo travel realizing all you want to do is get home.
When you discover you can do it:
that you actually enjoy watching a sunset all by yourself, even when you are surrounded by people loving each other,
that you can enjoy dining alone in a packed restaurant surrounded by people having fun together,
that you do not mind to come in the hotel only to find your laptop or diary to share the moments of the day with
Do go! See the world through your eyes and your eyes only.