What Moves You: The Hidden Story Behind Traveling Alone
A lot of people do not know how to be alone. Some are scared, some feel lost, some feel lonely, and some just feel awkward. Imagine if we elevate that to traveling solo — alone in an unfamiliar territory, surrounded by people you don’t know, trying things for the first time — all by yourself. Sure, it can be daunting but more and more people think traveling on your own can be as exciting.
And guess who the new power travelers are? Women. A new survey by Booking.com revealed that 72% of American women have traveled alone and most of them feel more confident when doing so. For 65% of women, traveling alone is freedom. Traveling is also how they escape from the pressures of everyday life. And women are not just making these up. Travel really does affect one’s happiness. A Dutch study showed that simply planning and anticipating a vacation can give the largest boost in happiness.
Whoever you are, whatever it is that you do, and whatever your reasons are, do not deprive yourself of the joys of traveling solo. Who knows, maybe you’ll see for yourself what many women travelers are talking about. Here are the many benefits of traveling alone:
Your way, your pace
If you feel like sitting in a café for hours, no one will tell you that you are wasting time. If you feel like exploring seven tourist spots in one day, no one will tell you to slow down. You can wake up very early or sleep until noon. You do it your way and you do it at your own pace. There is no itinerary and even if you made one for yourself, you can just go ahead and break it. No one will drag you to places you don’t want to see and you won’t feel like you have to drag other people, too. You don’t have to adhere to someone else’s schedule.
You will meet more people
When you travel with your partner or with friends, the tendency is you will always stick with that group. But being alone gives you the chance to be more open. When you are alone, you are more likely to talk to other people even if that only means asking them to take your picture. Reaching out becomes more natural when you travel by yourself.
You are inclined to try new things
Aside from meeting new people like the locals, you are more inclined to try new things when you travel alone. You wake up everyday and you ask yourself “what am I going to do today?” There is this urge to go full circle — “I have travelled alone, it’s time I do new things by myself.” You can try bungee jumping or cliff diving and no one will tell you it is way too scary. You can eat exotic dishes and no one will tell you they are not clean. On the contrary, people around you will even cheer you on.
You learn to take care of yourself
This is something that most people learn in their 40s. When you know that you are alone, you always stay on your guard, always alert, and look after yourself. Travelling alone puts us in charge and in many ways, it makes us responsible.
Get as much “me” time as you want
There is something about “me” time that fascinates everyone. In the same survey by Booking.com, 46% of women want “to get time to myself.” One tip for solo travel if reflection and relaxation are among the agenda, get a hotel that allows you to reflect. You can do this even if you are going on a trip to busy beaches like Boracay in the Philippines. You can get a beach resort accommodation nestled away from the noise and the crowd. A luxurious and serene Boracay hotel accommodation, for example, will give you the space you want to think and reflect.
You are bound to travel light
No one will help you check in your bags or carry them around. When you are traveling alone, you will (finally) understand the wisdom behind travelling light. Let’s say for example, packing your bags for a Boracay vacation. You will learn to pack only the essential things you need for a Boracay vacation, or for any destination for that matter. You will assess and re-assess what you just really need and you will be surprised you can survive with just a back pack.
You will save money (hopefully)
Since you are on your own, you learn to budget. No one’s going to lend you money when you go short. In many ways, you can find traveling by yourself cheaper. There will be no companions teasing you to try this and that, go here and there, ride a cab when all your budget can afford is the train, or buy more souvenirs.
You develop confidence
Traveling alone presents a challenge like that of navigating a new city or that of learning a new language. But with these challenges come renewed confidence. You will overcome these challenges because you have no choice. When self-doubt comes crashing your confidence down, you say, “I have come this far. Why stop now?”
No one will filter the experience
You see the world the way you see it. No one will filter it for you by giving you a different perspective. Even if your views are compatible with that of your companion, the memories you will have of a place or an experience will always be compromised.
You will surprise yourself
At the end of the trip, you are most likely to discover something new about yourself — what you are scared of and what you like best. You will be surprised to find out that you can do certain things by yourself. You will be surprised at how you react to situations. Being alone does that to people. Because you are on your own, you learn to listen to your heart, which is a good start towards self-(re)discovery.
A solo journey is truly empowering. It gives you a stronger sense of self. It also relieves you of stress and tension. Travel has the power to make us happy, to trust ourselves, and to understand and appreciate ourselves more.