Solo travel and adventures
8 reasons why travelling alone is not a bad thing! (I promise)
A long time ago my friend Caroline told me she was going on holiday to Prague, by herself.
BY HERSELF! Imagine that?
This was in my early 20’s, and I was utterly in awe of the bravery of this woman. I had many questions about this lone travelling, most of which Caroline giggled kindly at as being completely absurd, while encouraging me to do the same. I can remember vividly an episode on Sex and The City where Carrie is finding it hard to sit in a cafe by herself, so how could I possibly take an entire holiday, in a different country? ALONE…
Fast forward 15 or so years down the line, and I have become a proficient solo traveller, both for work and on holiday. I am frequently asked the same sorts of questions I used to harass this friend with and often find myself smiling at how much things have changed; these days I wouldn’t give it a second thought.
So why is it considered a bit odd, sometimes even sad to take a holiday alone?
I feel like this is quite probably at least partially the fault of the media (as usual) bombarding us with images of the perfect couple strolling down the deserted beach, taking in the scenery on a cultural city break, or perhaps it’s a family affair with the kids frolicking in the pool while the adults are drowning their misery with endless cocktails (not shown in the editorial shots of course) while scorching their skin to make sure on the return home everyone will know they have definitely been on a break because they are SO BROWN.
I have no idea why, but I can tell you a little secret, there is something to be said for solo travel, something rather glorious in fact, and once I had a little bit of practise, I gained confidence and I began to wonder why I was ever so resistant in the first place.
1. I have travelled to the places that I want to go to.
There have been times where I have wanted to visit somewhere that my partner/family/friends have had no interest in going to, so guess what? I just went and there were no repercussions, there was no moaning, no ‘why did we come here I knew it would be sh*t’. If I want to go on a trek through the Himalayas to find myself, then I shall go! As a side note, I have always been surprised at how many other solo travellers I have met along the way.
2. I can plan whatever I want to.
No more arranging the itineraries of the cultural delights my herd must all visit, no more complications because there are too many people, no more dragging my clan around with their screaming children that have absolutely no interest in this stuff. No more ungratefulness at all the effort I have put in striving for absolute perfection.
3. I get to do the stuff I would never get to do normally.
I often go on solo adventures to Bali because I am learning to surf, it’s just a short flight and my partner has no interest in this. I also like massages, getting my nails done and lounging about on the beach reading or lazing by the pool writing — more things my partner is not into. This way, I get my break and come back feeling renewed, my partner gets a break from me while I am away — everyone wins!
4. I get to jump queues.
It’s true, I cannot tell you how many times I have been queuing alone for something and they say ‘how many people?’ I say one and that is the magic number and I am fast-tracked in. Boom!
5. It’s easier to get a seat/sunlounger/space on the coach etc.
It really is; there is often one lowly spot that no one wants to separate to fill and here I am all alone ready to squeeze into that gap, not only am I a brave independent traveller, I am a helpful space-filling commodity.
6. I don’t have to worry about splitting the bill.
It’s my food, my order; I pay = zero awkwardness.
7. The only clock I am on is mine.
No having to leap out of bed at the crack of dawn to accommodate the excitement of my friends, no staying up late drinking cocktails in a ropey bar that will make me feel like death the next day — unless I want to of course.
8. I am more likely to get upgraded on a flight.
Now to be clear this is not the only thing that comes into play, I am generally a member of the airline’s loyalty club, or at least a member of the group it belongs to, but statistically, a solo traveller is more likely to get upgraded because it’s easier to distribute individuals to fill in gaps.
I would highly recommend solo travel; I get to be f*cking selfish, and there is nothing wrong with that; it’s my break, I need some downtime and the only way I can truly make it my own completely is if I am by myself.
The other wonderful thing I found out once I had done this a couple of times and realised that it’s not terrifying, it’s exciting, that it can’t be that odd as there are loads of people doing exactly the same thing; I started to realise that I am also an independent, confident, globe-trotting hero! Remember my friend Caroline? I thought she was amazing for going on all these adventures alone, well I do that now, so it’s entirely possible that people think exactly the same thing about me!
I am not saying to sack off all your friends and family and never go on holiday with them again, there is a time and place absolutely, but if there is somewhere I want to go, and I want to go it alone, there is no harm in that either. I just channel that free-spirit of mine and off I go!
I would not endorse solo travel in every single country in the world, please choose wisely and I implore you to avoid anywhere with any unrest. I would also make the suggestion that you begin small with maybe a weekend break before building up to an epic soul searching hike in the Atlas mountains. Please make sure to let friends and relatives know exactly where you will be and to leave contact details so they are able to get hold of you.