1. Stash the cash
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” ― Rumi
Unfortunately, there are some well documented disadvantages of travelling unaccompanied; a single supplement on some forms of accommodation and tours is one of them. As I have grown into a more confident traveller (courtesy of spending much of my time abroad alone) I prefer to avoid organised tours unless in a country where security might be a concern. In doing so I avoid that single supplement most of the time. However, in general I have discovered that going it alone is far more economical than other forms of travel. We all have different budgets and this can make for uncomfortable or pressurised situations when travelling with others. Independent travellers are able to determine and regulate their budget without influence. With all economical decisions in your control a solo traveller can elect where they stay, what and where they eat and see things they wish to see without spending money unnecessarily or having to take other people’s budgets and tastes into consideration.
“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ― Lao Tzu
Dictating your own schedule is the most liberating factor when it comes to travelling alone. There is no one you have to compromise with and no monuments or museums you have to trek to if they are of no personal interest. Travelling alone permits you to be selfish and create memories in places that reflect exactly who you are and what you want out of the experience. Globetrotting can be a surprisingly exhausting endeavour and as an independent traveller you are able to rest when needed without having to worry about impacting someone else’s time. Like many women in the world I struggle with hypothyroidism which unfortunately means I struggle with punishing fatigue if I forget to take my medication. I remember visiting Oslo and had unfortunately left my medication back home in Dublin. After a busy morning of sight-seeing and feeling too lazy to venture back to my hostel I decided to take a nap in the afternoon by the serene fjords just because I could. Not only did I feel so revitalised after 45 minutes of rest but being alone permitted me to listen to my body and not push myself for the sake of others.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Life is full of awkward moments that hopefully we can all look back on and laugh once enough time has surpassed to allow our bruised egos to recover. Touring a country that is vastly different from your own whilst being caught up experiencing a new city is a breeding ground for such moments. For instance my very first experience of visiting the Vatican was plagued by absolute humiliation where I tripped on the cobblestones and not only fell flat on my face but my skirt flew over my head revealing underwear far from conservative. That was a time I wish I could have been alone to lick my wounds in private instead of in front of my than boyfriend and several mortified nuns. Travelling solo allows all our little faux pas to easily be forgotten and never mentioned again when there are no witnesses. On a more serious note the privacy that comes with independent travel permits us to be alone with our thoughts, relish in the moment at hand whilst bringing a little peace into our hectic lives.
4. Indulgence without judgement
“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish” ― Simone de Beauvoir
Typically, I am someone who is very healthy but when I travel all bets are off and it is over-indulgence go time. Travel is not just about seeing new places and meeting new people but sampling new tastes and savouring local cuisine. One of the most rewarding factors about travelling alone is eating what you want and when you want without judgement. Should you feel like Italian gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner there is nothing or no one stopping you from doing exactly as you please on your adventure. Furthermore, this indulgence is not limited to food alone but other travel passions. Personally, I adore travel photography it is by far one of my greatest loves. Unfortunately, I am a perfectionist and enjoy being patient to find that perfect shot. Solo travel enables me to improve on my photography skills without feeling rushed or that I am annoying my co-travellers.
5. Personal growth
“Not all those who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I believe the predominant factor that prevents many from roaming is safety and unfortunately travelling by yourself is daunting because essentially there is no one to look out for you. As a woman there are some places in this world regrettably that I will not travel alone. It is an unfair fact of life but I won’t lament on things that I cannot change. For the most part though, many places are safe if you are a responsible traveller and exercise caution. One of the major rewards independent travel produces is how quickly you become fearless without being reckless. With no one to look out for you, you are destined to evolve faster into a more aware individual and thus a more responsible traveller. These lessons are able to cross over into your personal life as you will become more apt at listening to your intuition, observant and a better judge of situations and people’s character.
In conclusion, I understand that some might find the tone of this article egocentric or self-indulgent but I strongly feel that we have to give ourselves permission to be selfish here and there especially during moments in our lives when we have the opportunity to take time out to be alone. For those with busy social schedules, parents, workaholics don’t be afraid to reward yourself with the things that you want to do in this life. You don’t have to apologise for answering your needs or explain yourself to anyone.
Likewise, it is important we celebrate and support people who travel by themselves. The truth is not all of us are blessed to have travel companions, I certainly haven’t been and naturally the road can get a little lonely at times. However, after many years of going it alone I am increasingly appreciative of these experiences and I hope for those having an emotionally challenging time during their globetrotting are able to reflect on the advantages their travel situation is generating.
Personally, independent travel enabled me to discover numerous new things about myself namely an inner strength I never knew existed whilst providing me with more insight into who I am. Most importantly, solo travel empowered me as I quickly realised that I am perfectly capable in my own company. To my fellow ‘’soloists’’ whoever you are congratulations on having the courage to take control of your life by honouring the dreams you have for yourself. To impending solo travellers or those worried about going it alone, the biggest lesson travel has taught me is that time is fleeting … wait for no one or that someone special to see the world with, because you are special enough just as you are.
Now go and conquer the world because it is waiting for you.