Travelling by yourself can be an incredibly daunting experience, especially if you’re not used to it and you’re doing it for the first time.
Travelling by yourself can be an incredibly daunting experience, especially if you’re not used to it and you’re doing it for the first time. Having lived away from home for university and completing a year abroad in Spain this year, embarking on a solo adventure was still a terrifying thought, but, in reality, I’d spent the last few years gaining an independence I’d never had before and the prospect of travelling around Spain by myself was not only an opportunity to add another dimension to this ‘new me’ but also to go on a journey of self-discovery.
There is no denying that the best memories are shared. Indeed, travelling with friends is more than just having someone to laugh and cry with but a deeper bonding experience in an unfamiliar setting. Being accompanied creates those ‘remember that time when…’ story openings which are great to revisit and reminisce over, long after the trip has ended.
Having said this, travelling with someone and spending time with them 24/7 can make or break a relationship. You might find yourself desperately seeking personal space as relationships are pushed to breaking point by conflicting interests and ideas about things to do. Your inquisitive side might be suppressed as you try to align these differences in opinion in an attempt to maintain harmony within the team. The group consensus always takes priority and so you might find yourself missing out on something you had really hoped to do.
The main advantage of solo travel is that you can do whatever your heart desires. There’s no better time to implement that get-up-and-go attitude you’ve been meaning to enforce and you can find yourself being spontaneous and doing things on a whim without having to think about other people. You can take as much time as you need in that quirky vintage poster store or that bizarre museum—everything is at your own pace.
Asking random passers-by to take photos of you outside attractions or nervously resting your camera set on self-timer on a wall can be a little depressing. The peril of taking your own holiday photos is definitely one of the less thrilling moments from travelling alone.
Being alone with just your own thoughts for company can be a scary situation to find yourself in.
Unless you consider yourself the real-life version of Rosin’s The Thinker, forever trying to resolve an internal conflict, then you don’t need to worry about your thought processes becoming a threat to your long-term sanity; if anything, they can be cleansing and therapeutic.
Travelling solo means you will be living alone too but this gives you the opportunity to experience invaluable hostel life. There you can meet lots of new people in the same boat as you, from all different backgrounds and walks of life, whose outlook on the world will make for fascinating conversation. Through sharing a room and participating in activities organised by the friendly and wonderfully quirky hostel staff, you can empty the increasing clutter in your mind and see things from a different perspective. You never know, you might make a friend that would put an end to your solitary journey before it’d even begun.
At the end of the day, you travel for your own self-enjoyment and to satisfy your own curiosities, not to upload the photos to Facebook as soon as you get home to prove to everyone that you had a great time and are well-travelled.
I suppose what I’m trying to achieve with this is convince those more reluctant travellers to take the plunge. It’s okay to be anxious about the thought of travelling by yourself—it’s human nature to want to share your life with someone, but you shouldn’t be forever avoiding a solo excursion. I was once the person that would have a look of horror if someone mentioned they would be going away by themselves but now that I have experienced it, I can understand and appreciate the need for independence and escape.
Whether you end up finding it liberating or too isolating, your horizons will definitely broaden in ways you will never have imagined.