Traveling alone is one of the best experiences I had in the last few years. Once I tried it I was hooked. Today it's hard for me to imagine any other way to travel. As harsh as it sounds, I’ve already found myself refusing to take trips with friends and family members - it just won't be the same.
But enough about me. Why should you go solo?
In the last post, Why Travel Solo - Part 1, I’ve already given you 4 good reasons why you should try to travel alone at least once. So without further ado, here is the rest of my list:
5. Meet new people - a lot more people
Let me tell you a little secret about solo traveling - You’re never really alone. (And I don't mean that in the spooky/creepy way that it sounds).
You’re never really alone because there a lot of people out there like you,that are also traveling and looking for a companion. Even if you are a shy person, like me, you will always be able to find people who would be happy to join you.
For example, and this is one of many, at the start of my trip to India I really wanted to go on a road trip I’d heard of to two districts called Spiti and Kinnaur. I asked around but couldn’t found anyone who was planning to go there at the same time I wanted to go.
I felt lonely and frustrated. I was afraid that my entire trip would feel this way. So I decided to go to a travel agency and see if they had heard of any groups that were looking for one more person to join them. As I walked into one of those agencies, I saw the place was packed. Before I even said a word, a girl asked me: “Are you alone? We are looking for one more person to join us on the jeep. Do you want to come?” Suddenly another person said: “No! Come with us!”, and then another one and another one. I couldn't believe how many people were looking for just that one more person to join them. In the end I went with the first group that asked, and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.
When you travel with people you know from back home, you are less likely to meet new people, maybe because your friends don’t want to, or you look less approachable in a group, or you just don’t feel the need to. And it’s a shame, ‘cause I can tell you that some of the friendships I made on my trips have lasted till this day.
Ko Tao, Thailand.
6. Try new things - Tons of new things
Same goes here. Just like you can meet new people when you're traveling with friends from back home you can also have, and will have, new experiences while traveling with them. But, again, it would probably have some limitations.
You and your friends from back home know each other well. You know each other’s likes and dislikes. You know their boundaries and like a good friend it’s important for you to respect them. Sometimes at the expense of your own enjoyment.
I’ve seen this many times, even experienced it myself; you go on a trip with a good friend or a family member. You are so excited about this adventure, you have been waiting for it for a long time. You’re actually happy that you came together, you weren't sure if you would be able to go alone. It’s like having a safety blanket.
Then the two of you start the trip and everything is so great, you don’t know what you were worried about. There are so many people to meet and things to try, you could have totally enjoyed this alone.
Now you met some new people on the trip and they want you to join them on a party/a hike/a road trip. But your friend from back home doesn’t really feel like going, and you don’t want to leave him alone, because after all, you came along together.
I don’t think I would have done: bungee jumping, night party raving, or zip lining in the jungle with my friends or family. Good thing I went solo.
7. The good, the bad and the ugly
There is a good side to travel with people you know from home. It could be a real bonding experience. The bad parts of it I think I’ve described pretty well in reason number 6. The problem is the ugly parts, you see, nobody talks about the ugly parts. So not a lot of people take them under consideration before they go on a trip with somebody they know.
A trip could be a really intensive experience. When you travel with a partner, you are with him almost all-the-time. You wake-up together, eat together, hike together, party together, share a room - sometimes even a bed. You’re with him 24/7. That could freak out even the most romantic love birds. Think about it: even if you are living with that person back home, you don’t see him every minute of the day. You have your job, your hobbies, your own friends. You have some alone time in any healthy relationship. Now, when you're traveling, you really get to know this person, and that could be a recipe for a disaster.
I never gave it much thought until I had to go through it myself.
Long story short, when I traveled solo to Thailand, I met a very good friend of mine who was there for a week. At first it was fine but as the week progressed I started to see a side of her that I had never seen before and I didn’t appreciate much. The worse part was when I had a really unpleasant situation that happened to me and I truly needed a friend for support. Not only wasn't she supportive, but she was also very judgmental and just made me feel a whole lot worse.
We didn’t stay friends after this trip. Now that I really knew her I couldn’t see us just hanging out anymore.
But this story is a subject for a more elaborate post. Some other time, some other day.
I hope I didn’t bum you out! But in the name of authenticity and honesty I think you should know all your options before you rush to take the next flight.
Anyway...I can’t summarize for the life of me!
Never would, never could.
I still have some more very good reasons to share with you about why you should travel solo.