Don’t let excuses hold back your travel dreams. Though many Kaleidoscopic Wandering readers are familiar with the travel industry, many others are not. As part of the Why People Don’t Travel series, I’m taking a hard look at five different things that keep people from traveling. In this series, I hope to provide solutions and additional resources for people who would like to travel more.
Today’s travel concern: “I don’t like to travel alone.”
Happy couples walk along the beach in the Caribbean. Families with young children line up for the rides at Disney World. Fathers hike the trails in the national parks with their sons. Mothers and daughters step away for spa retreats.
So what about everyone out there who doesn’t have a travel partner? Can you travel solo?
The short answer is absolutely.
I usually travel with another person, but the few times I have traveled on my own have been personally gratifying, fun and liberating. One of my first solo experiences was a summer on my own in Washington, D.C., where I discovered the only thing standing between me and what I wanted to do for the day was a single ride on the subway. This past summer I ventured to Burning Man alone. Upon arriving, I felt frustrated and irritated about being at one of the world’s biggest festivals by myself. At the sake of sounding a bit cheesy, I can safely say that by the end of the week, I had grown into an entirely different person.
Lots of people travel by themselves … and many people prefer it that way. There are pros and cons of traveling solo, but some of the most popular reasons why people choose to go it alone include:
- Having complete control over your travels. When you are on your own, you get to decide where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do and how long you want to stay someplace before moving on.
- Meeting other people. Solo travelers often report that it’s easier to meet other travelers than it is when traveling with a partner. If you’re backpacking, there are frequently others hanging out solo at the hostel who would be more than happy to hit the town with you.
- Trying things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Instead of feeling confined by what your travel partner wants to do, you make all the choices. Perhaps you have the urge to bungee jump in New Zealand when you’d normally keep your feet on the ground. No need to ask your travel buddy … the only person who has to approve is you.
- Traveling spontaneously. Tired of your present destination? Then pick up and go. There’s nothing stopping you.
- Personal growth. People said you couldn’t do it. Maybe you didn’t even know if you could do it. But one thing is for sure … when you return from your first venture on your own, you will be a changed person, and most likely for the better.
Still not convinced? If you want to travel and you have no choice but to do it alone, there are other options that ensure you don’t really have go solo. Here are a few suggestions:
- Join a tour group. There are travel groups designed with all kinds of interests in mind. There are tour groups designed for women, students and specifically for solo travelers. Toss a few words about what you’re looking for into Google, and you’re sure to find the ideal group for your travel needs. The start of any travel tour can be a bit awkward as people get to know each other, but you’ll warm up to each other fast enough, and chances are you’ll leave with some new life-long friends.
- Volunteer. Sign up for a volunteer vacation and you’ll not only experience a new place and culture but you’ll make a difference too. These types of vacations last anywhere from a week to a couple years and range from working with children to grooming hiking trails. On these trips, you’ll be working side by side with other passionate people — both fellow travelers and locals from the area.
- Couchsurf. Explore the world by staying in people’s homes along the way. Though I’ve never personally couchsurfed, I know plenty of people who have, very few have walked away with a negative experience and most will tell you that couchsurfing is not just about sleeping on someone’s couch. Many hosts are excited to show their travelers around the city, and some travelers even get to attend family gatherings and local festivities with their host — experiences they wouldn’t have had if they’d stayed elsewhere.
And if you’re ready to give solo travel a go, I recommend you check out the websites and blogs below. If there’s one thing for certain, you certainly aren’t alone in your desire to travel …
Resources for the Solo Traveler:
- Solo Traveler — This comprehensive site is rich in ideas and tips compiled by solo travelers of all ages across the world. It consists of tips on how to travel alone as well as inspiring stories of people who have traveled solo. Check out the post about 50 safety tips for solo travelers for some creative tips on staying on your toes. And for another great read, check out Janice’s eBook, “Glad You’re Not Here: A Solo Traveler’s Manifesto.”
- Solo Friendly — Gray is primarily a U.S. traveler, and she writes extensively about traveling solo at Walt Disney World and in Las Vegas. Her blog is a personal account of traveling on her own, and she frequently notes how solo patrons are treated by wait staff in restaurants and whether certain places are friendly and affordable for people traveling alone.
- BootsnAll Solo Travel Guide — A collection of solo travel tips and articles from one of the best resources online for independent travel.
- Journeywoman — Evelyn has created this website specifically for women travelers, but she has a whole section dedicated to women traveling on their own.
- TripAdvisor Solo Travel Forum — Find a travel companion. Ask questions about your intended destination. Get travel ideas from others like you who are out to see the world on their own. This forum space is visited and commented upon frequently and is a great place to find others who have traveled solo as well as those who would like to.
- Velvet Escape — Keith is a frequent solo traveler and contributor to the Solo Traveler blog noted above. On his personal travel blog, he occasionally provides tips and ideas for solo travelers in his Lone Traveller section.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- Why People Don’t Travel, Part 2: Lack of Money
- Why People Don’t Travel, Part 3: Kids
- Why People Don’t Travel, Part 4: Time
- Why People Don’t Travel, Part 5: My Partner Doesn’t Want to Travel