It’s not an easy decision to go traveling despite what some might say. It takes months, if not years, of saving, endless research and constant debates with yourself about whether you’re making a really stupid life decision or not. But, even more so, deciding whether to travel with someone or do it alone can be an even tougher call (trust me, I know).
When I started to tell people that I was going to go traveling back in 2014, they thought I was mad for going alone. But, I can tell you from firsthand experience and, regardless of what you hear and read, going solo will be one of the single most liberating experiences you will ever have. Of course, it can also be fucking terrifying—don’t get me wrong here—which is why, if you’re anything like me and almost had a meltdown before embarking on that big adventure, you’ll probably find the next bit pretty helpful.
You’ll make loads of new mates.
Yup, believe it or not, you’re not the only person that’s made this big decision to pack up and do it alone. There will be tons of solo travelers that are probably shitting it just as much as you are and dying to find a pal with whom they can go drown themselves in Sangsom. Give it six months and you’ll be begging for a bit of piece and quiet.
You can do what you want when you want.
Ever get totally sick of having to do what your mates want to do even if you don’t want to do it? Well, not when you travel solo. If you want to go visit that temple in Bali, then do it; if you feel like getting a tattoo on Koh Phi Phi, then do it; if you want to go eat a massaman curry at 4 AM, then do it.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself.
I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. You’ll learn that there’s a lot more to life than confining to social norms of “being an adult.” You’ll witness new cultures, eat different foods, meet people from all over the world and, by the end of it all, you’ll know exactly what you like, dislike and with what kind of people you want to surround yourself. Sounds alright, ey?
You’ll do spontaneous, stupid things that you’d never do at home.
You’ve grown up following a routine: Go to school, college, university, get a mortgage, buy a house blah, blah. Traveling alone pulls you completely out of this bubble—there’s nobody from home there to influence your decisions. So go on, say yes to that mushroom shake on Gili T and say yes to jumping down that waterfall in Vietnam with a lifejacket from the 1900s—you’re in Asia after all.
You’ll be really glad you did it.
Once you’re into the swing of things, you’ll start secretly ticking off your own personal goals for traveling. For me, I needed to do my trip alone to prove to myself I could do it. Believe me, it’s a great, smug-like feeling telling other travelers you’re traveling alone and even more so telling all the people you did it once you get back home.“What, so you traveled alone?! No way, I wish I could be as cool as you.” Yup, basque in the glory my well-travelled friends.