Solo travel, as the name implies, is embarking on an adventure in the truest sense of the word; leaving behind your usual safety crutches – friends, an itinerary, and traveling confined to the weekends or filed leaves.
Solo traveling is not solitary confinement; it just means that you start your travel adventures by yourself and you make friends as you go along the way. It actually makes it easier for you to meet new people; without the usual group of friends surrounding you, locals and other travelers find it easier to approach and start a conversation with you.
The Benefits of Solo Travel
1. Your senses are heightened because there are no distractions, intensifying the traveling experience;
2. Traveling solo lessens the impact of your presence on your immediate environment; locals are more at ease going about their daily routine and you get a more genuine feel of their culture and way of life;
3. Going solo means all the decisions are made by only one person; you can act on your impulse to sample the exotic local cuisine or learn the traditional dances without second thoughts or having to compromise with anyone;
4. The locals and other travelers have an easier time approaching you when you are alone;
5. Solo travel means greater mobility; no more waiting for a table of a certain number of people before you can be seated since you can always sit at the bar; and we can board buses with only one seat left;
6. Traveling solo helps preserve relationships in a way; traveling with a group tends to strain relationships in certain instances such as who gets to use the bathroom first or who sleeps on the couch, these little things pile up and before you know it, no one is speaking to anyone anymore; and
7. Solo travel allows you to get in touch with your inner self, to mull on the meaning of your life and other philosophical queries you normally cannot indulge in; and
8. Solo travel gives you an opportunity to relax and recharge.
The Challenges of Solo Travel
1. It can get lonely; when we see other travelers with their friends or families our natural reaction is to miss our own friends and family. But we must bear in mind that we did not embark on this journey to strengthen bonds with other people; we are here for ourselves.
2. Safety is perhaps the most crucial issue for solo travelers, most especially for women solo travelers. Travelers are easy targets for undesirables; they are unfamiliar with the territory, they are most likely clueless about the local language and they usually carry around more money that the locals. Always be alert of your surroundings; it’s not like we were born yesterday or that we have never found ourselves in a “bad neighborhood,” always use common sense – do not walk alone in dark or dimly lighted streets, know where the nearest police station is, if you must ask for directions as a person in uniform, and ask other travelers for tips on how to high crime areas.
Solo traveling is not for everyone; the benefits of solo travel seem to be more on the introspective aspect of an individual, realistically its demands seem higher than traveling with a friend or a group of people. But more and more people are embarking on their own solo adventures; why you may ask? I can almost hear a veteran solo traveler replying, “Because it’s worth it.”