We love travel – it’s a way to learn more about world and the people in it. Travel is a way to unlock mystery and possibility. It offers you a chance to explore, to indulge your inner child, to form new memories. You can dine on Thai street food or sip cocktails with the locals at a Parisian speakeasy or float through the canals of Amsterdam. Travel isn’t just a fun way to pass the time during a vacation – it’s an essential part of a fulfilling, purposeful life.
Quite often, traveling is a group activity, with friends, family, the love of your life. Your memories are formed not just by the places you’re exploring but also by the people you explore them with. This can be exciting for big moments like an anniversary or a big holiday. But for a lot of today’s travelers, travel companions are not a requirement.
80% of millennial travelers ventured out on their own last year, and more and more people are searching for ways to form these memories by themselves.
But why? Isn’t traveling solo scary? Isn’t it unsafe? How will you get around? What if you don’t know the language? Who will you share all these amazing new moments with?
Stay calm – these are often questions people have when they think about traveling alone. Most of us grew up taking vacations with others. It’s all we ever known, and in many cases, we’ve been warned against taking off on our own. However, a lot of people are letting go of those fears:
- Single travelers refuse to wait for Mr. or Mrs. Right to take that big trip. They fear that once they’re locked into a serious relationship, they’ll have less time to travel or their significant other may want to travel somewhere else.
- Some travelers just need a break from everyone. A solo trip offers them an opportunity for reflection and freedom that they can’t get at home.
Tash Nikolovski, a 28-year-old writer, saved for months to take a six-month tour of Latin America. She cut corners to stash extra cash, she learned Spanish, and she decided to leave her job. This trip was one of the most important moments in her life, and she was simply unwilling to scrap it or postpone it for anyone else. Even if she’d met the perfect guy, she still would’ve gone. The sense of adventure this trip afforded her was just too powerful and too significant to pass up.
Tash’s story captures the essence of solo travel. There’s something about taking off on your own that’s like no other feeling, but what is it exactly?
The benefits of solo travel
Let’s say you’ve gotten over the hurdles of preparing to travel solo. You’ve sidestepped the disapproval of others who would only travel with a group, you’ve saved and planned a killer itinerary, and you’ve put work on hold so you can take a much-needed break. It’s time for the trip, and there are so many benefits to reap while you’re away.
- You are free – Of course, vacations always offer a certain level of freedom. It’s much easier to enjoy a serene forest hike when you don’t have to worry about responding to emails or rushing to meet friends downtown. But solo travel offers a different kind of freedom. If you want to spend the day sunbathing on the beach, you can. If you want to have pizza for dinner every night, you can. If you want to spend two days visiting every art museum in town, you can. This is YOUR trip, in the truest sense. You don’t have to compromise. You’re free to form the memories you’ve always wanted, no questions asked.
- You’re open to new people – With so many other solo travelers out there, you’re bound to run into other visitors who are navigating similar dream tips. You’ll find commonalities with others as you all experience foods or places for the first time. You’ll be open to forming new bonds because you aren’t attached to the people in your own group. And who knows? You could even meet a local who sweeps you off your feet.
- You’re at peace – Even when everyone in a travel group is on the same page, there’s still an issue. One person wakes up late, or another person doesn’t want to walk far, or this person isn’t interested in shopping at local stores. There are always competing interests, and your dream vacation can turn into a tug of war. When you’re on your own, you can avoid the drama of group travel.
- You become more confident – When you’re on your own, you can’t rely on others to figure things out for you. You need to read maps correctly, translate signs accurately, make decisions about how you’ll spend your time and money. Doing this successfully is a major confidence booster. You’ll be on the top of the world, confident enough to tackle any task.
- You’ll be more comfortable being you – Since you’re away from the comfort of a group or a relationship, you’ll spend more time with yourself. You’ll have time to figure out more about what you like, who you are, how you behave in different situations. The people you meet will see you, without the cloak of protection from friends and family, without any façade you keep up to survive in a group setting. This is raw, unfiltered you, and you’ll begin to love that person more and more throughout your travels.
Traveling alone isn’t just about leaving people behind or satisfying selfish needs. Yes, on one hand, you’re traveling to a new city or country, and you’re learning about different ways of life. But you’re also learning about yourself. You’re finding you.
Traveling alone gives you a chance to figure out the answers to complex questions.
- How do you respond when you get lost? Do you problem solve or panic?
- How do you manage your money when there’s no one there to behave as your conscience?
- How do you adapt to a language or a series of customs that aren’t your own?
- What activities draw you in? How willing are you to try new things?
- How do you feel when you’re alone with your thoughts?
- How do you interpret experiences when you don’t have to explain them to or share them with others?
This is the ultimate benefit of traveling solo – traveling inside. While you backpack through the countryside, you’re also hiking through your psyche. You’re learning more about who you are, you’re cultivating your most important relationship – the one with yourself.
Admittedly, traveling already does a lot for your mental health, regardless of who you’re with. It relieves the stress of your daily life, it gives you a chance to reinvent yourself, it boosts your happiness and your satisfaction, it increases your resilience, and it makes you more creative. But imagine these benefits through a different filter – one without influence from others. You can do whatever you want to do. This can work wonders for your creativity, your sense of self, and your outlook on your life. That’s huge. It’s also impossible to fully experience if you aren’t alone.
Also, traveling inside isn’t something that happens exclusively on vacation. That journey starts while you’re away, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t stop when you return home.
It’s critical that you hold onto these feelings and observations when you’re back in your house or apartment. You need to hold onto this euphoric, life-changing feeling once you’re firmly planted back into your everyday life. If you return to your cubicle, to your bad habits, to a negative life outlook, to negative people, with no intention of continuing that journey, your solo travel will have been a waste.
There are some steps you can take to preserve your solo travel excitement and keep traveling inside, even when you are no longer abroad:
- Take a few extra days off to process your emotions. Solo travel unlocks aspects of your mind and body that you weren’t in tune with. Get those feelings down on paper. Do something with them – don’t keep them bottled up. Think about what you learned and how you can incorporate it into your home life.
- Ease back into your life gradually. The daily grind is habitual, and it can be easy to fall back into a pattern. You’ll return to work on Monday and feel exhausted by Tuesday. Don’t rush back. Hold onto to that solo travel feeling as long as you can.
- Revisit the memories. Look through your photos often and think about how you felt in each one. What did you experience? How did it change you? How can you keep those memories alive?
- Recreate the best parts. Was there a dish that made your mouth water? Or an activity that made you smile from ear to ear? Recreate it at home. Get the recipe from a cookbook, or find a local group that loves that same activity. Just because you’re back home doesn’t mean you have to let these cultural discoveries go.
- Plan the next one. Don’t make this a one-time thing. Self-discovery is an ongoing process. Get that next solo travel date on the calendar.
It’s important to think of travel differently. Don’t think about what you can show to others or bring back, and don’t think about what other people can do for you. Think about how this travel experience will change you, inspire you, and elevate you. Take the opportunity to travel inside for once, and you’ll never view trips the same. Exploring who you are will be the most fulfilling experience of your life. Traveling inside will become your favorite way to see the world.
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BEU watches are created for the curious, the visionary, and the brave: enduring timepieces with the power to liberate you from technology, and reconnect you to people, nature, and culture.
Our company was founded by Johan Ronnestam, a Swedish designer, adventurer, and former snowboard professional. With a deep respect for the incredible diversity of our planet, he’s spent a lifetime searching for great waves, deep powder, unbeaten tracks, and inspirational human beings.
Johan gathered a small design collective from Scandinavia who firmly believes that we’ve been born into this world, not to master others but to master ourselves. Born, raised and living in the lands of reflection, together we strive to create iconic time pieces that do to you what this land has always done for us – calms you down, gives you space to think, room to breath and most importantly, inspires you to be you.
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