Probably not a very common practice is traveling alone, rarely you’d hear about someone in your circle of friends who decides to travel alone, or to join a group of random people, maybe it’s more common among guys, but barely existent among girls.
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that I am a loner, or hate to hang around people –nor that I am looking forward to escaping my family restrictions, and party all night long-, and it’s not like I am going to be alone either.
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that I am a loner, or hate to hang around people –nor that I am looking forward to escaping my family restrictions, and party all night long-, it only means one thing; if I can’t find people with common interests I would still commit to my travel plans, and enjoy them so much, as I am capable of enjoying my time all by myself, it’s not like I am going to be alone either, now hanging out with locals and fellow travelers can’t get any easier, the internet offers a bazillion of ways to meet with people on the road starting from sharing rooms in hostels -most hostels have males only & females only dorms-, and car sharing to joining activities, dinning, and being tour guided by locals.
Before getting started one thing I need to confirm which is; no, no, no, & NO I don’t travel overseas to go completely wild & out of control, to party all night long, or to escape my parents rules, frankly everybody knows that we don’t have to go through the travel hassle to do so. I can always travel alone for so many other significant reasons, so here are my reasons why I choose to travel alone.
Photo by Eric Murray
Not willing to keep looking for people who fit into my travel plans
Blessed to be a super active traveler, one who wants to see everything and get the best out of every single moment, not only that, but also way inclined towards Adventure Travel; mountain climbing, cycling, hiking, and camping which are not the most common kind of trips anyone would enjoy, therefore I can’t just hang around waiting for someone to fit into my plans, therefore it’s whether I do them alone, or with a group of random people with common interests.
Photo courtesy: Nicolas Baltenneck
Traveling alone is better than traveling with wrong company
I bet that everyone has had a bad experience while traveling with the wrong companion even to Sahel, Sharm or Hurghada – a wrong companion doesn’t mean that s/he is a bad person, s/he can be your best friend however when it comes to travel preferences they just do not match, no chemistry in there. As important as you might not think it could be -“al rafeek kabl al tarik”- your travel companion is the most important factor that would make or break your trip, therefore being alone can be better than being with wrong company.
Creating my itinerary “guilt-free” & having more freedom to decide
If you are keen on making a great success out of a group trip, the group has always to make a compromise, where they agree altogether on going, eating, or drinking somewhere, or splitting into small groups, or whatever it is, it’s never an independent decision, but a collective one, therefore traveling alone gives you room to decide whatever you want to do without having to worry about the group’s decision/thoughts, or waiting for anyone’s approval.
To learn & grow
I distinctively remember that only after I spent 3 months abroad all by myself, I came to appreciate the value of money, stopped shopping irresponsibly, appreciated way more my mother’s efforts in taking care of all house work and started helping her much more frequently, started to be more keen about saving money, so when I spend my savings I know and make sure they are spent in the right direction, I also became more aware of the world surrounding us, came to appreciate its beauty, and became more tolerant to cultural differences.
Photo courtesy: Albatross
I am adventurous & like to take risks and deal with them
It’s just the way I am, the explorer adventurous side of me is much stronger than the “I’ll remain in my comfort zone” side which is something that developed over time, I was never like that, and the more I travel, and meet with people as crazy as me -even crazier- the explorer adventurous side keeps growing. Alone I have encountered bumping into a tree while zip-lining, almost got lost on the way to Munich, crossed the Swiss highways while carrying my bike -after mistakenly cycling on the highway thanks to my in-existent German language skills-, swam at the high speed Aare River in Bern and I am sure there is a lot more yet to come.
I have done this swim, video by BERNbild
It’s not unsafe if you are careful
Don’t listen to everybody who keeps saying “traveling alone is not safe, specially that you are a woman”, it’s safe if you take care of yourself and don’t do any foolish acts such as; taking night trains or any late night rides, doing nightlife alone, going out during late hours, staying in unsafe areas, or low cost accommodation without reading reviews, choosing destinations with high rape and crime rates, ignoring safety precautions, dressing too fancy or being dressed in new sneakers holding a map giving everyone the impression that you are a tourist, asking questions to suspicious people, going to remote areas without having any means of communication, or wandering around at night. The best way to stay safe is joining a crowd, buying a sim card for your smart phone preferably with mobile data, and a navigator and if you are not in the city center to know exactly where you are going beforehand, how to get around, and from where and when will you get your ride back home.
Photo courtesy: Brent Moore
Meanwhile misadventures can happen
I am sure that you have heard weird stories of solo travelers -and exciting ones as well-, even you had your share of misadventures although you have been cautious, and did your best to avoid any surprises. I believe that in life if “there is no risk, there is no fun”, staying home won’t protect you from bad-turn-of-events, anything could happen even at the comfort of your couch when you least expect it, so keep being cautious, learn from your mistakes along with other people’s, read reviews, always have a functioning mobile phone even better if it has a navigator, or at least inform someone of your location.
Photo courtesy: Dauvit Alexander
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that I am going to be alone
As mentioned before there are so many options that you can try to avoid spending your vacation completely on your own, and join a fun crowd some examples are;
Hostel World – you would definitely meet with interesting people while staying in a hostel.
Couch Surfing – you will be staying at someone’s home, most probably a local who can show you around, introduce you to new friends, or at least give you recommendations.
Be Welcome – same as couch surfing, but not as famous.
Camp In My Garden – you will be camping at someone’s garden, so it’s similar to the couch surfing experience.
Meet-up – a place where you can type your preferences, and bam hundreds of meet-ups happening around the corner will come your way.
Eatwith – where you can enjoy a deliciously cooked meal by a local.
Bookalokal – same as eatwith.
Sandemans New Europe – guided tours in Europe, some are free -on a tips basis-, and some are free.
Vayable – plan your dream vacation, and find specialized people who can help you execute it.
Colunching – you’d better be a French speaker to use this website
Guidedbyalocal – paid guided tours by locals.
blablacar – paid car sharing service.
kangaride – paid car sharing service.
Group activity by Zach Dischner
I embrace some “me” time
Not that I am a loner, or hate to be around people -it’s the other way round- but every now and then I like to have some “me” time, where I do things that make me happy without thinking of anyone else’s happiness, I guess I have reached an inner peace with myself, so I mostly enjoy my own company.
Photo courtesy: Chris Ford
Never get tired or enough
As an insanely active traveler, one who never gets tired or gets enough, who hops on the first adventure that comes her way, who almost naps when taking a ride from a place to another -not on the way back to the hotel-, who never takes public transports while in a small city, that makes me a difficult traveler to handle.
Photo courtesy: Jan Van Winkel
To break the rules
Probably everyone -with some exceptions- travel with a companion, and I enjoy breaking this rule, because rules are made to be broken.
Photo courtesy: Courtney Carmody
So tell us do you travel alone? Ever considered to but something stopped you? Or now that you read this article you have enough reasons to consider to? Tell us in the comments below.