What? Traveling alone? Are you crazy? Won't you feel lonely all the time? Isn't that dangerous? Why are you even doing it?
These are just some of the questions I get whenever I talk about traveling solo. Frankly, I had similar thoughts about the whole movement until I got to the point to actually try it out.
However, it is not as bad as it sounds. No, I would even say that it's absolutely amazing. Doing whatever you want, meeting a lot of people and personal growth are just a few of the benefits you get.
How did you start?
One day, I was looking for flights anywhere in Europe. Suddenly, I've stumbled upon some cheap tickets to Milan, Italy. I got super excited and I immediately called a few of my friends to check if they would join me. We needed to make a quick decision, as the price of the tickets can change from a minute to another.
However, none of my friends were on board, because they had neither the time nor money.
At first, I became disappointed, but after the initial "shock" was over, it clicked. I always wanted to try out how does it feel traveling alone, I just never had enough courage to do it. This could be the perfect opportunity to experience how does it feel. I have the time, Milan is a safe city, and it is a short trip.
I ended up booking the tickets and that might have been one of the best decisions of my life. I've ended up Couchsurfing in Monza, exploring the city by walking 30+ kilometers in uncomfortable shoes and having a really good time. I wanted more.
Why you do it?
One of the main reasons why I've started traveling alone is because I wanted to stop waiting for others to make up their mind. I want to travel now, while I still have the energy, possibility and my ties are not so strong.
Flexibility is king
This is the main benefit solo travelers have. Being flexible with where to go, how much sleep to get, who to hang out with, what restaurant to eat at or where to stay is freaking awesome. It makes the whole experience customized in ways that group travel cannot.
And the best part? No need to wait for others, if you have the possibility, you can go wherever your heart desires.
In the past three years, I've grown a lot as a person. I've stepped out of my comfort zone dozens of time.
I significantly improved my English, I've developed healthy habits, I am reading a lot, I appreciate more the opportunities I have, I am more comfortable striking up and having deep conversations with total strangers and just in general, I feel more resourceful.
Would all of this be possible even without traveling solo? Maybe. But it would have taken much more time, for sure.
Easier to focus on work
I really like the idea of the digital nomad movement. There are way too many places I want to visit and the number of vacation days is not really enough. In order to hack the system, I love to combine traveling with work.
If I am working on the road, it is much easier to sit down and focus by traveling alone. There are fewer distractions which can draw my attention from getting the work done.
Don't you feel lonely?
Not at all, at least most of the times not. Even though I travel solo, it does not mean that I don't talk to anyone. That would be tough, unsustainable and not fun at all, especially not for a long period.
Meeting people on the road is not hard and you don't need to be an extrovert to make new friends either.
There are lots of people adventuring alone, having similar struggles as you and wanting to share their journey with others. Hence, most of them will be open to connect with you and have some fun together.
In general, I've found it easier to meet people while traveling solo. If I have someone familiar with me, we usually stick together and don't get to know that many new people.
How to meet people?
Thanks to traveling being more accessible, there are a lot of explorers all over the world. Below you can find my favorite ways of meeting people on the road.
Staying at hostels
The number one place to meet tons of travelers is staying at a hostel.
If you are in the mood, staying in a shared room is a lot of fun(and way cheaper than renting a private room). Approaching your roommates is simple and effective, as they are in the same boat as you. Most of the times when I stay at hostels, I end up hanging out with some of my roommates.
Hostels could still be your number one choice, even if you prefer more privacy. Most of the places I've stayed at have a common area, where people hang out. Don't be afraid to approach someone, they are usually open to new friendships.
Free walking tours
Free walking tours are also a fantastic way to meet people and they also give you a good overview of the place you are visiting. This is usually the first thing I do whenever I arrive in a new city.
The tour itself is basically free, but you are welcome to give something at the end of it if you had a good time. I've participated at tours, where more than 50 people showed up. That's a lot of potential new friends.
Just Google free walking tour 'place you are at' and choose one from the many results which will pop up. They are available in most of the places I went to, even in smaller cities.
This could be a double win. Couchsurfing is not only an amazing way to meet locals, but it is also the place if you want to get free accommodation. Yes, you heard it right, using the application you can get a couch to spend the night and you will also meet super cool people. I've done it in many cities and it is still one of my favorite ways to travel.
However, don't expect to just "check-in" to the room and then forget about the person hosting you. While that could also happen, your host(s) usually would like to spend some time with you, show you their favorite restaurant or just take you along a walk in the city. This is the idea behind the whole concept, to connect locals with travelers and develop friendships.
During my travels, I've managed to meet with a bunch of awesome people from all over the world. The more people you become friends with, the higher the chance you will bump into each other somewhere else.
Having a local to show you around is the most authentic way to experience a new place.
You might think this is not something you would like to do and that is perfectly fine.
However, I would like to challenge you. If you've never traveled solo, just book a trip and give it a shot.
Do a short weekend city break, take off a week to do a road trip or get crazy and go on a longer journey anywhere in the world. It does not matter, just go out and do it. You might actually fall in love with exploring.
What is your next destination? What are your thoughts about traveling solo? Did you try it? Do you like it? What is your favorite part about it? Did I miss something?
Let me know in the comment sections and feel free to connect with me on any of the socials listed down below.
Thanks for reading! 🙏
About the author
Robert is a full-stack web developer, currently working at Relatable. He loves to inspire people, explore new places, read great books, take inspiring pictures and learn new stuff all the time.