The idea of traveling to another part of the country (or world) by yourself can seem daunting and even a little dangerous, but having recently spent more than a week exploring the Pacific Northwest all by my lonesome, I can now confidently say that the benefits outweigh the risks. Here are my top 10 reasons why everyone should step outside of their comfort zone and travel solo at least once in their lives.
1. You meet the greatest people.
In the unlikeliest of places, in the most unexpected moments, you’ll encounter some of the best people in the world. They’ll come from all walks of life, but you’ll all have one thing in common—the thirst for adventure. And that alone will bond you forever.
2. Your self-confidence will skyrocket.
Striking out on your own is no mean feat. You’re embarking on a great journey full of ups and downs that you’ll navigate all on your own. And when you face your fears and arrive at your destination—whether it’s the beaches of Thailand or the coffee shops of Seattle—you’ll feel stronger than you ever have before.
3. Your getaway will be just that—yours.
You have full control over exactly what you do. Feel like taking it easy one morning? You’re free to sleep in. Ready to spend the day in an art museum? Let’s go, Picasso. Travel companions can be amazing, but there’s nothing quite like a laissez faire itinerary.
4. You’ll get so much better at asking for help.
Coming from someone who is likely the world’s worst person about striking up conversation with strangers, this was probably one of the most intimidating aspects of solo travel. I didn’t know anyone where I was headed and I hate bothering strangers with silly things like directions or recommendations for restaurants. But little did I know how eager people—especially locals—would be to offer help and advice! Seek out your concierge, your bartender, or even your fellow hostel buddies when you need a hand. And trust me, asking becomes much, much easier with practice.
5. Never again will you have better time for self-reflection.
If you need some time to reevaluate your priorities or recover from an emotional wound, solo travel could very well be exactly what the doctor ordered. Pull a Cheryl Strayed if you need to. Spending time with yourself with no distractions from back home can be the best path to mental and spiritual recovery.
6. You will learn to trust yourself like never before.
When everything is all on you, from rental cars to train tickets, you learn to really take responsibility for yourself. I confess: I constantly lose my phone and keys in real life. I’m perpetually five minutes late. But when I traveled alone last summer, I never once misplaced a single thing or missed a departure. My mind became hyper-aware of everything I needed since there was little room for error if something bad happened. No one was on speed dial to bail me out of my predicament. Without a doubt, I’ve never trusted myself more than those couple of weeks. And that is an incredible feeling.
7. You won’t be so afraid of new places or situations.
Adventure begets adventure. Once you’ve tackled something new (and had a blast doing it), unfamiliarity in real life isn’t so scary. In fact, you’ll start to find those new challenges a lot more fun.
8. You’ll embrace the unexpected.
Being thrust into new surroundings forces you to be flexible. Lean into the moment. Sure, you get to make your own itinerary, but there are some things you just can’t plan. From bad weather to a scenic detour, absolutely anything can happen. And the unforeseen moments—even the unpleasant ones—make the greatest stories.
9. The F R E E D O M.
If you’ve ever dreamed of just getting away and leaving it all behind (whatever “it” might be), there is nothing more liberating than a trip to yourself. Being an adult means you call the shots now. And if that means finally buying a plane ticket to your dream destination, then use that vacation time you’ve been saving up! It’s time to do whatever you want, whenever you want, without a care in the world but where your next stop is.
10. You’ll have the memories from your trip forever.
There’s something about heading into the unknown all alone that makes you savor the journey even more. Those photos and friends and stories are all yours—and you’ll carry them with you for a lifetime.