Solo travel is associated with fantasies and fears. The sheer excitement of it usually just stays as a plan in the diary. It is understandable to have questions about how it works and if it is fun and worth it, but I can say with utmost certainty that solo travel is one of the best things to experience. Whether or not it is your style, it is a journey one must experience at least once.
Here’s all you need to know about solo travel and how to make it fun:
Is Solo Travel Fun or Weird?
‘Traveling alone can’t be fun’ is a myth. Solo travel is not any different from traveling with someone. Is it more special and more fun? Yes. The liberty of staying to watch a sunset or sitting in a cafe all day comes only when traveling alone. There are pros and cons to all kinds of travel, be it with your friends, partner, or family, but solo travel is the only thing that gives you the freedom to explore a destination the way you want.
With solo travel, the most asked question has been, “what will I do there all by myself?” And probably, that’s what makes it weird to some. The answer is obvious, the same things as you would have done with someone else. For example, if you plan a trip to London, you will probably see Tower Bridge or Buckingham Palace. It changes nothing whether you’re traveling alone or with someone. You will probably end up experiencing more of a destination if you’re traveling alone.
Is Solo Travel Lonely?
This question is like a speed breaker on the road of solo travel. So often people avoid traveling alone because it might get lonely. But after years of solo travel, I can assure you, it’s not. If anything, for me it has been one of the best ways to be out there, meet people, enjoy the solitude, be active and be a part of something.
You can feel left out only in a group. When you’re traveling alone, you’re traveling with yourself. Are there days when you want company? Yes, there are. But those are the days you spend in the cafes & communities, connect with people, spend it outdoors, make an active itinerary or cozy up with a book. Here’s what I do when I feel lonely, I try to relive some experiences from back home, create that ideal Sunday for myself, and do what I would normally do at home. Sometimes solo travel is about familiarities. If you don’t find them in your new home, create them.
How to Make Solo Travel Fun
If it isn’t fun already or you’re bored with your own company, there are tons of ways to make it fun. On days when I want to have fun (something different from what I’m already doing) with or without people, here’s what I like to do:
1. Traveller Meet-ups through Couchsurfing
Meeting other travelers is one of the greatest perks of traveling solo. There are so many community resources on the internet to find your travel community. Browse on Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Tripoto, and even Facebook to see what is happening in the new destination, what are other travelers doing, check if there are meet-ups, events, or upcoming plans like hiking together, or a jamming session. For example, in Himachal Pradesh, India, I found a group of solo travelers who regularly plan clean-up drives along the hiking trails. Find something you’re passionate about and a community that is willing to do it with you.
2. Cultural Experiences through local events
Local events are some of the most unique experiences you can treasure. Trying local festive food, clothing, traditional music, dance and art bring a vibrancy to your trip. There is nothing more fun than blending with the local culture and immersing yourself in their ways of life. Explore what is happening in the community, make local friends, go to these ceremonies and events to make your solo trip more exciting. Visit the cultural center in the town, see what they’re offering, check if there is an upcoming event, and plan a fun-filled time for yourself through the local culture of the town.
3. Coffee talks in Cafes
Coffee talks in cafes are one of my most preferred ways to have fun on a solo trip. You meet new people, have great conversations, and learn so much from their experiences. I have met people from different backgrounds, careers, stories, and life experiences. It gave me a treasure of tales from all around the globe. Cafes are also a perfect place to spend your time, on days when you’re not up for socializing. Find a snug spot somewhere, drink hot chocolate and do what you enjoy doing.
4. Planning an Active Itinerary
Planning an active itinerary is one of the best ways to have fun on a solo trip. Make a list of everything you want to do, see what you can fit in your trip, prioritize, be active and tick off all the items on your list. Although plans rarely work on a solo trip, having a must-see list is a great way to keep you going, especially if this is your first time traveling solo.
Why Should Everyone Travel Solo At Least once?
Solo Travel may not be your preferred style of travel, but when you travel alone, it becomes an all-inclusive journey towards self-growth and self-reliance.
1. It makes you independent
From taking prompt decisions to staying alone, figuring things out to making independent plans, solo travel transforms you into a more self-reliant and independent person.
2. It is your gateway to the world
Meeting new people is a huge part of travel. Solo travel makes it easier to find global connections along the way. From building your network to learning a new skill, solo travel opens a wide array of opportunities.
3. It makes you adaptable
Journeys don’t always turn out as planned. Solo travel helps you adapt to ever-changing circumstances, be it on a journey, at a destination, or in your home. You will learn to be at peace with delays, cancelations, changes, and unfavorable situations.
4. It helps with personal growth
No book can teach what a journey can. Solo travel is not just a trip you plan, it is the first step towards self-growth. With every trip you take, you become a better version of yourself, a more open, learned, and empathetic one.
5. It broadens your horizons
Traveling to places far from home, talking to people from unknown lands, taking decisions for yourself, and learning the art of observation will expose you to infinite possibilities. You learn to look at the world with an openness that you can never learn otherwise.
Practical Benefits of Traveling Solo
1. Flexibility of Plans
Traveling alone gives you the flexibility of dates, destinations, and decisions. Solo travel will give you the liberty to be exactly where you want to be at that moment. The way you want to plan the trip or the place where you want to stay may not always coincide with a group. It is easier to choose the activities you want to do while saving time and money on experiences that may not even be fun for you.
2. Lower Travel Costs
Traveling solo is a perfect way to save costs. You will not only save money on transport and food but also accommodation. You can get single rooms instead of private rooms in hotels, book a bed in a hostel, or even try Couchsurfing. It is also easier to save money when traveling solo. For example, if you are a group of four planning to take a day trip from your destination, you’ll inevitably go in a cab for convenience. When you’re alone, you can explore a city via local transport, take a lift, or even walk at times. These elements add so much value to the trip.
3. Hassle-free Movement
When you are traveling solo, plans depend on just your decisions. In the spur of the moment, you can take a random bus to an unknown place, stay an extra day or leave if you do not connect with the place. Getting through bookings for one person is always easier. With just you and your backpack, everything becomes possible.
4. Introduction to Smart Travel
As a solo traveler, you learn the ways to optimize your experience. From limiting your luggage by understanding what to carry and not, learning to travel effectively by picking night buses or flights and saving on that extra night of accommodation, to simple things like knowing which seat to pick in a bus, least crowded times to visit a popular attraction, etc help you not only save time and money but make your trip more comfortable.
5. Quicker plans and simpler execution
One of the perks of solo travel is not having to wait to plan a trip. It can get frustrating to wait for everyone’s schedule to free up, finding a common destination, availability of bookings for a large group, and activities that work for everyone. Solo travel allows you to make quick plans that can be put into action right away.
A general belief that solo travel is a lonely affair not meant for all is a myth. Traveling alone is one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. You can experience some of the most transforming moments only when you travel alone. To take a solo trip or not is another question, but can solo trips be fun? The definite answer is yes.