Most people are resistant to the idea of traveling solo. Some dismiss it out of fear of being bored or lonely or incapable. This is a shame, because solo travel can actually be extremely fun and rewarding. Many people let their misconceptions about what solo travel is actually like keep them home instead of out exploring the world.
Here are four reasons you should really consider taking your next trip alone.
So many times we relegate our travel dreams to the someday pile because we can't find anyone who wants to come along. Dreaming of a trip to Iceland but can't find a travel companion? Or maybe you long to eat your way through Thailand and your spouse is totally uninterested. Whatever the case, deciding to travel solo gives you the power to visit the destination of your choice.
Once you've arrived, traveling solo gives you the power to call the shots on your travel style. Stay up late partying or go to bed early. Spend your days hiking in the rainforest or shopping on high street. Your itinerary is totally up to you.
Many people associate solo travel with solitude, but traveling alone doesn't necessarily mean you will end up spending all your time by yourself. In fact, one of the underrated advantages of traveling alone is that it becomes so much easier to meet people - both travelers and locals alike.
This happens for two reasons. One, solo travelers are more approachable and are likely to be befriended by other solo travelers. It is far easier to approach one person than a couple or group. Locals are far more likely to start chatting with solo travelers as well, and some of the most memorable connections can happen this way.
Secondly, traveling solo forces you to put yourself out there and speak to people you might not otherwise. If you consider yourself introverted or shy, solo travel can be a great exercise in pushing your boundaries and meeting new people.
Travel can bring out the worst in people, even people you love. Jet lag, hunger and stress can turn even the most pleasant people into grade-A jerks. This gets even worse if you and your travel partner have different expectations about a trip. No matter how in sync you think you are, there is bound to be a disagreement over what to see and do, where to eat or which way the hotel is.
When you travel alone though, you get to sidestep all of these potential minefields. Simply take care of your own needs and wants. You can expect a much quieter, more peaceful experience.
One of the biggest arguments for taking at least one solo trip is that it's important to challenge yourself. Whatever your fear is: eating alone, meeting strangers, navigating a foreign subway system, solo travel will force you to confront it. In the process, these things become infinitely less scary.
In the end, everyone should travel solo at least once in his or her lives, at the very least to know that it's an option. It's a lesson in self-reliance, confidence and it is actually pretty fun too.
Have you traveled solo? Where did you go?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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