Five Advantages of Traveling Solo

Photo Credit: Yarik Mishin

As a woman, I sometimes get strange looks or questions when I mention I travel overseas alone. “Weren’t you bored?” I am not really sure why I would be bored exploring a new culture and trying out local fare. I usually just take it in stride.

The only time I was really bothered by this judgment was when I returned from Ecuador to the states though Miami.  I went through “extra screening” and the customs agent kept asking me why I was traveling to South America by myself.

“I’m a big girl and do it all the time.”

His beady eyes questioned me, “You were not visiting family or friends? That is odd.”

“Nope, I was there to volunteer and explore the beaches,” I smiled back feeling a little defensive.

The Judgement of Solo Women Travelers

The latest news story related to solo travel is the murder of Sarai Sierra. In the media, there has been harsh judgement on this woman traavling alone is a dangerous part of the world.  Many people don’t blame the victim. Personally, I do not think this has anything to do with her being a solo traveler. This could happen anywhere!  Even in your own town. How many women are subjected to violence who are not even traveling, but going to the local mall to shop for their children or going for a run in the park? It happens every day.

Will this incident and the judgement stop me from traveling solo? Heck no.  Here’s why.

1. You get to do what you want.

This, of course, is the biggest advantage. Whether you want to spend hours staring at a sculpture in a park or two minutes in order to check it off the list, it is YOUR choice. You can lounge around at the beach all day or take in an opera. When I was in Rome, I loved my time spent alone, strolling through the city. I had a minor agenda, but I was open to whatever historical site jumped in front of my path.

This goes for the planning part, too. You pick your flights, you choose your itinerary, and you decide when, where, and how long you want to go. It is beautiful and relatively stress-free.

2. Your schedule is flexible.

I truly do not know too many people who have the flexibility I have to travel. I work part-time for various chunks throughout the year. All my writing can be done anywhere that offers Internet service. It makes it easy to have a flexible schedule. Besides, short trips in the states, I rarely go overseas for less than three weeks. Some people don’t even get that much vacation time in a year. Can you imagine?!?

This also applies when you are in country. If you are traveling solo, you can decide to sleep in or get up at dawn – no one is there to complain. Maybe the Plastic Museum sounded interested when you read about it in Frommer’s and now it just does not seem to be at the top of your agenda. Easy. Change your plans. Adjust your itinerary.

3. Easier to find accommodations.

This may or may not be true depending on your accommodation requirements. I don’t mind staying in a hostel. Your travel companion might. Often times, a hostel may not have a double room or you may be open to sleeping in an open bay. Easy if you are solo.

Either way, when there is no one else to offer up an opinion, it can be easier to just pick a place and check in. Even without a reservation.

4. Better chance to meet new people.

I honestly believe this with all my traveling soul. Guess what? If you are by yourself, people will talk to you. Not so much when you are there with three of your girlfriends or one of your boyfriends. It is more natural to strike up a conversation with someone who is sitting alone at a bar than a group of chatty girlfriends sitting at a table by themselves.

And since you are alone, you will appreciate the company. Sometimes, you will get invited to join the other person or group. This is a judgment and gut call. Use common sense and keep a good head about it. Despite the Sierra tragedy, most people are harmless and are interested in meeting foreign travelers, just like yourself.

5. More time to reflect.

I find that when I am traveling alone, I have more time to think about things. About life. About travel. When you are alone in your thoughts, deeper reflections cross your mind. Always keep a journal, even if you are not a writer.  Since you are traveling alone, you won’t have anyone else there to pick up on the experiences you might miss. Or forget.  I love this part about traveling by myself. It gives me time to slow down, reflect, and write down my thoughts. Without someone there to entertain, you can spend as much time as you want just thinking.

Now, I enjoy traveling with friends and family, too. There are obvious benefits to having people with you during your adventure. However, for the most part, I cherish my solo time and look forward to those adventures.  The important things when traveling solo are to be safe, vigilant, and smart. Don’t be stupid and be aware of your surroundings!  Most of all, have a great time.

3 Responses to Five Advantages of Traveling Solo

  1. This is great. I haven’t done any long-term travel on my own but I’ve taken a few shorter breaks (2 weeks or less) on my own, and traveling solo has become my favourite way to travel. Glad to see there are other women out there who are spreading the word of great, and safe, solo travel can be.

    Alouise February 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm Reply
  2. Interesting article. But for single traveling, I will think twice. Traveling without a friend is just like a boring journey. But at least I have traveling with a friend for couple weeks. And it’s not really comfortable.

    Anto March 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm Reply
  3. Normally you are more free and spontaneous when traveling alone.
    However there are some disadvantages as well…

    Travel Nerd May 19, 2013 at 9:44 am Reply

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