8. I learn so much about myself.
Putting myself out of my usual comfort zone is always such a great learning experience for me, and I come out feeling so much stronger. I learn that I am capable of SO much more than I give myself credit for. How brave I am. I always try a new food or do something I wouldn’t usually do, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by these experiences. I’ve learned what I do and don’t like and how to take care of myself on a higher level. I come out of travel a little bit stronger, and it’s 100% made me who I am today.
9. I’m more engaged with the environment.
When I’m traveling solo, I’m even more aware of my surroundings than usual. Mainly for safety, but also because I’m not focused on conversation or anything. I notice more, and as a result, discover more. Also, I see more of the “little things,” get drawn into conversations with locals more, and just overall feel like I am more aware and engaged. I get to see more of it when I’m not looking at my phone or talking to someone, and it turns out to be a more ‘authentic’ trip.
10. I know my angles best.
Last but not least, I have learned over the years that while I consider myself pretty photogenic, that’s only true when certain people take my photo. Or when I take it myself. So many times, I’ve spent 10 minutes getting the perfect shot of my friend, only for them to take three photos of me where my eyes are closed, or it’s too dark. I know my ‘good side’ and my angles, and I’ve developed some methods of taking good photos. Though I do have a Tripod, I rarely use it. I use this Bluetooth shutter clicker sometimes, but other times I just prop my phone up somewhere and record myself and then take screenshots later. Do I get weird stares as I record myself posing? Probably. Do I care? Nope.
Also, if you see a couple trying to take a selfie, ask if they want you to take a photo for them. Then after you take a stunning picture, ask if they can return the favor. In Greece, I did this, and the woman spent five minutes posing me and taking tons of photos. So, if you’re looking for good pictures but your friends don’t consistently deliver, sometimes it’s better just to do it yourself.
While there are some excellent “pros” for solo travel, just like anything else, there are also a few things that I don’t like about traveling alone.
1. There’s nobody to watch my things when I go to the bathroom.
This sounds stupid, I know. But it’s annoying when you find a prime seat at the airport, but then you have to pee, and when you get back, someone took your spot. Or when you’re getting something to eat and don’t want to have to bring your whole bag with you into the tiny bathroom. Just in general, it’s easier to have someone there to keep an extra set of eyes on things – especially if you just need to run into the bathroom for a minute.
2. Safety concerns, and limiting drinking and partying.
Not surprisingly, the biggest issue with solo travel is safety. I specifically choose places that I’ve researched and know are safe to go to as a lone female. Still, you can’t guarantee your security anywhere. When I’m on a trip by myself, I make sure not to drink too much – usually one cocktail or a glass of wine. I don’t go to clubs or anywhere that I can’t be fully aware of my surroundings. And, I sometimes take transportation methods that aren’t as convenient or are more expensive to be sure that I’m making the safer choice. Sometimes, it would be nice to have another glass of wine or check out a club, but it just isn’t worth the risk for me. So when I’m alone, I don’t do it. But, it doesn’t mean that there haven’t been times I wished I wasn’t alone so I could!
3. Lack of shared experiences.
Finally, sometimes I do find myself wishing I had someone there to share certain experiences with them. I’m very comfortable and confident with being on my own, but I, of course, get lonely at times. And there are some things that I’ll fully admit would be better with someone. But that just means I have to go back and do it again!
So, there are obvious pros and cons to traveling alone, but so far, I have loved it. Although, I did say that Greece would be my “last hurrah” of solo trips before I want to start to work on this whole settling down, finding someone to travel with thing; and, I feel ready for it. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t still make some little solo trips here and there!
My 30th birthday is coming up, and even though I didn’t make my 30 by 30, that’s okay. I decided that as much as I love solo travel, I want to visit my 30th country with someone important. I don’t want to go somewhere just to check it off the list – quality over quantity! So, as far as I’m concerned, I have another year of 29. I mean, it’s not my fault that COVID took away the last couple of years of my 20s! 30 will come soon, and I already have an idea of where I want to go – and who with.
Fellow solo travelers, what are your favorite – and least favorite – parts of solo travel?