When I was 13 years old, my parents put me on a plane to Chicago. Alone. 12 years later, I’ve traveled the world alone on many occasions. I’ve never been scared, never felt unsafe, never lost or bored. In fact, the more I explored the world on my own, the more I loved it.
Yet, traveling without a group or a partner is often seen as weird, unusual and even quite desperate.
“You cannot really have as much fun alone as you can have with a group.”
“You are a tiny woman on your own. Just think how easily something can happen to you.”
“Only people without friends and a life travel on their own.”
“But you can hardly believe that you will be able to find your way around this city all alone. I’m sure you’ll get lost!”
Those are just a few of the comments I’ve heard in the last decade and I’ve learned to laugh at them because they are just, well, ridiculous.
In fact, the benefits of traveling alone are plenty.
If you travel with a group, a friend, a partner or your family, you are always bound to make compromises. One person wants to go to the Louvre, while the other just wants to stroll down the Champs-Élysées. A few friends want to go out to party all night while others would rather get up early to explore the hidden wonders of Melbourne. Your husband loves to just lay on the beach all day long while you yearn to check out the countryside and culture of Bali.
What happens next are fights, arguments, people stomping off in different directions outraged that the other person’s only purpose is to destroy their vacation.
Guess what? None of this happens when you travel alone. You don’t have to answer to anybody, can choose your own destinations, your own plans, agendas, places to eat and hang out and can even change everything on a last-minute notice.
This freedom is amazing and it takes your vacation, your experience of a foreign city or country to a whole new level.
2. Encountering New People
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you’ll stay in solitude, not by any means. In fact, I always meet more new people when I am on my own than when I travel with somebody.
Why? Because, again, you’re free. You’re not bound to spend time with certain people because you happen to have come to this place with each other. You’re free like a bird and can mingle, find new dance partners, sit next to new people, interact and start conversations with whomever you want.
The opportunities for interesting and accidental encounters are endless and fun.
3. Your Eyes are Wide Open
Deciding to travel on your terms means that you have to rely on yourself. You have to be aware of where you are, what it is you’d like to do and how you’ll get to the places you want to see.
This makes you search for landmarks, look for signs and remember details that you’d otherwise oversee. That way, you take foreign places in on a level that is much deeper than if you’d follow a group, which, in turn, ensures an unforgettable travel experience.
4. It enhances your confidence
There is nothing more thrilling than driving around LA in a rental car at the age of 21 and not getting lost. There is a feeling of empowerment when you take a bus into the center of a city you’ve never been to and an hour later you know your way around. There is hardly anything that builds your self-confidence more than calling people asking them to catch up or meet for the first time in a foreign city and then having a blast doing it.
Traveling without baggage throws you in those situations and you learn to master them better every singly time.
No, traveling by yourself is not weird. It’s not a sign of you being a loser. It’s not an admittance that you want to live your life all alone.
It’s an experience that far too few people take advantage of.
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is an anorexia survivor, body image expert and the owner of aMINDmedia. She empowers you to achieve a healthier and more successful life by returning to your true purpose and values.