Monday, January 15, 2018

11 Reasons to Travel Solo in 2018

Why travel alone? The answers can be different for each traveler. I've booked solo trips to shake off work stress, take advantage of last minute vacation deals, and clear my mind after a rough patch in my personal life. On top of those reasons, sometimes I just like the challenge and freedom of venturing out into the world and using my own wits to survive. If you are hesitant to travel alone, let me encourage you. I have returned from solo trips well-rested, happy, and with a renewed sense of purpose. Need more incentives? Here are 11 reasons to travel solo this year.

1. The schedule is entirely yours to decide.

There are 24 hours in a day. Most of those hours are scheduled for you by your kids, spouse, boss, grocery store, gym, etc. When you travel alone, all of your time belongs to you. Go where you want, when you want and do what you want. No guilt and no questions asked.

2. It's all about the Benjamins.

The budget can be a pain point when planning a group trip. One friend will only consider 4-star hotels. You want to save money on the hotel and spend it on a fabulous wine tour. No need to compromise on a solo trip. Downgrade to a 2-star and enjoy a glass of red while watching the sunset.

3. Grab some me time.

When is the last time you had more than 10 minutes to yourself? It is difficult to recognize in our ultra-connected world, but being alone sometimes is healthy. We all need time for self-discovery and reflection. We need time to think deeply about our purpose, passions, and plans in life.

I took a solo trip to London soon after graduating college. I wanted to clear my head because I felt frustrated by the lack of career and social opportunities. I sat down at a pub one afternoon, took out my notebook, and wrote about my dream life. Within a year of returning home, I relocated to a new city, found an amazing job, made friends, and was happier. That trip had a significant impact on my life.

4. Meet new people.

It is a misconception that you will be lonely if you travel alone. It has been my experience that I meet more people when traveling solo. I'm not focused on chatting with my travel partners and more open to starting conversations with strangers. Also, I think one of the gifts of travel is meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I am a better citizen in the world because of the people I met while traveling.

5. Pursue an activity or hobby.

You have a passion that your family or friends do not share. Maybe it’s playing golf or dressing in costume for a Star Trek convention. I like museums. Unfortunately, my family does not. No worries. I get my museum fix when I travel alone.

6. Eat whatever you want.

Order two desserts. No one will judge you. Want to try raw goat meat? #YOLO.

7. Control the amount of social interaction.

You travel on your own to rest and focus on yourself, but there may be times when you crave a bit of social interaction. You can find opportunities to socialize with others at restaurants or on group tours. When you’ve had your fill of folks, politely excuse yourself and go back to enjoying your solo adventure.

8. Build confidence.

Sometimes it just feels splendid to accomplish something on your own. It's empowering to navigate through unfamiliar territory, make new friends, find a 24-hour Starbucks without help. Learning how to be self-sufficient and successful outside of your comfort zone will send your confidence soaring. This confidence boost is a benefit that carries on well after the trip has ended.

9. Solve a problem.

Have you ever had a lingering problem that you could not figure out? A change in the environment can help your brain think outside the box. Traveling refocuses your mind and opens it up to new solutions. Sometimes the resolution to a thorny problem is a trip away.

10. Change your plans on a whim.

At any time, for any reason, you can modify plans without a second thought. The tour you booked is boring; walk away. You see an ad for an outdoor concert; cancel your dinner plans. Traveling solo means freedom to tear up the itinerary and be spontaneous.

11. Broaden travel opportunities.

Once you complete your first solo trip, you will not hesitate to do it again. A whole new world of travel opportunities will open to you because you are not limited by other's plans. You can travel to new places alone with confidence.

Make 2018 the year that you reap the benefits of traveling solo. It is not as scary as it seems. Start planning today.

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