Without hesitation, one of the first things I hear from friends and family after returning from an extended trip is, “Your trip looked fun! Who did you go with?”. When I tell them that I just drove 2,500 miles on my own, the look on their face is a mixture of confusion and penitence. While solo travel might seem odd to some, it’s actually something I prefer (sometimes) and have had more than one occasion where I’ve turned down friends from joining me on my trips. There are lots of benefits to traveling solo, but here are my top 6 reasons.
People are unreliable
If you’ve ever tried to plan a trip, or even just a get together with some friends you know it’s never an easy task. People don’t get back to you, they give you a ‘maybe’ which basically means no, or they have to cancel last minute. If I waited for others to travel I would never go anywhere. Don’t rely on others to book your trip. Purchase your ticket and if your friends can make it, the more the merrier, but don’t let their availability dictate your travel plans.
You meet more people
For the longest time I had difficulty sparking up random conversation with strangers. However, once I started traveling solo, this became an every day occurrence. We are social creatures and will quickly go stir crazy without having any legitimate conversation for an extended period of time. This increases your need to converse with other people and since you’re not traveling with anyone else your only other option is to chat it up with the nearest stranger to you. Whether it’s just a short 5 minutes to pass the time or several hours that lead to a new friendship, you never know what will come out of it.
You are 100% in control of where you go
Unless you’re the type that plans out every minute of a trip, there’s usually some flexibility in the places you’ll go and activities you’ll participate in. Personally when I go on trips I try to pack in as much as possible in the shortest period of time. I’ve found that this is not necessarily the most appealing way to travel with some of the people who’ve adventured with me. Understanding that the trips I go on are every bit as much mine as they are the people I’m sharing them with there has to be some kind of compromise. But when you’re the only one on the trip, there’s no one else you need to consult before making decisions on your next destination or activity.
You have better control over how you spend your money
This is probably a lesser thought of reason as to why you should travel solo, but it’s pretty important. With most of my trips being 2 weeks or longer I typically do my best to save money whenever I can, although I don’t have a problem splurging when the time calls for it. When I am traveling with friends I’m typically mixing my workcation with their vacation. The big difference? Their allotted vacation time for the year is usually much less than my workcation time. This means they’re usually willing to pay more for nicer hotels, activities and restaurants as they want to make the most of their time on vacation. Not wanting to alienate myself from my friends on these trips I usually go along with whatever they’re doing, even though I would be completely content camping on the beach for the night.
Get to spend more 1:1 time with old friends
I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to have incredibly awesome friends all throughout the country that I can meet up with when I’m in their town. Most of the time these are friends I haven’t seen or talked to in several years but know I can always reach out when I’m stopping by. When I get to finally meet up with them, it’s nice to know that I can spend more 1 on 1 time with them to catch up.
More time for reflection
Do yourself a favor and drive the 300mi stretch of Rt. 50 through Nevada (“The loneliest road in America”) by yourself and tell me it isn’t one of the most meditative experiences you’ve ever had. Your mind wanders further than you travel and is one of the best times to reflect on your past, present and future. With nothing but the sound of the car cruising along at 80MPH and your favorite music playing, it’s times like these you’ve never been so mindful and happy to be spending time with yourself!