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10 Unexpected Things You’ll Experience While Solo Traveling

Alice is a solo travel expert and has traveled to six continents and been to more than 30 countries. Some of her adventures include hitchhiking in South Africa, living in a forest in Bulgaria, solo island hopping in Greece, and riding in a hot air balloon across Cappadocia, Turkey.

Solo travel can be intimidating, but it can also lead to unexpected lessons and experiences, as well as lifelong memories. In the United States, 16% of people have gone on vacation by themselves, and 25% said they were thinking about taking a solo trip in the future.

Going on a trip without your partner or friends might sound lonely, but you’d be surprised just how connected you feel when you indulge in solo travel.

Selfie of a young smiling man in sunglasses in Barcelona, Spain
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  1. You’re going to make tons of new friends

If you’re worried about being alone or not having people to do things with, then you’ve clearly never solo traveled. When you travel solo, you’re more likely to meet people than if you were traveling with a partner or friend. First of all, there’s an immediate need to discover where to go and what to do, which can lead to more connections. Second, when you travel alone, you are more open to new relationships and talking to people you might not have spoken to otherwise. It can create amazing vacation relationships that can turn into travel buddies or even lifelong friendships you may never have made otherwise.

  1. Everyone from your home country is your new BFF

There is an unspoken bond between solo travelers that only solo travelers can experience. When you meet someone abroad who is from your home country, all of a sudden it seems like you have more in common with that person than with your tightest friends back home. Sharing a common homeland often creates a unique friendship you’ll only experience when you’re far from home and open to meeting your new solo-travel BFF.

Woman hiking on coastal footpath, looking at the sea
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  1. You will engage with locals on a deeper level 

Traveling alone forces you to engage with locals more than probably would otherwise, and that’s a good thing. Without a heavily planned itinerary balancing family or friends’ must-dos, you’ll be open to suggestions from locals, which means you will find yourself talking with the people who live there. This could range from a light-hearted exchange in a rickshaw to an invitation for a home-cooked meal. Chances are, you wouldn’t have the same conversations if you weren’t traveling solo.

  1. It feels incredible to do your own thing

Having a vacation planned out on a day-by-day basis can make for a great vacation, but consider the freedom of not having all those plans. When you’re traveling alone, there’s no need to indulge hangry companions or see the wax museum just one more time. Enjoy the freedom to do exactly what you want and when.

  1. You’ll gain a better understanding of every destination

When you travel alone, you’ll spend more time walking around, and you’ll also tend to pay closer attention to details. Getting to know the places you visit on this deeper level creates a greater sense of cultural understanding and sensitivity. (There’s nothing like getting lost that forces you to know a destination better than you might have otherwise.) 

  1. You’ll deepen your understanding of yourself 

If you’re the type of person who goes with the flow and doesn’t like to give your opinion, traveling alone is the perfect way to find out who you really are. If you’re used to family members, spouses, or partners picking destinations, solo travel might be scarier at first, but it will also be more rewarding. Break out of your comfort zone and start taking the lead. If you’re the only one making decisions, then whatever you do and wherever you go will certainly be your choice.

Wide shot woman taking selfie during sunrise hot air balloon ride
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  1. A place where no one knows you feels like a fresh start

When you step off the plane, bus, or car without a cred to your name, you can choose who you want to be. When you solo travel to a new destination, it’s your opportunity to try being more bold, more creative, or more confident than you normally are in your day-to-day life. No one you meet has any predetermined idea of who you are, so experiment to see what kind of person you really are when you’re not constrained by your existing identity. 

  1.  Alone time helps you improve your life

Between social media, texting, WhatsApp, and Marco Polo, it’s not often we truly get to be alone. Being alone is healthy and can increase productivity, empathy, creativity, and help you know yourself better. When you take the time to be by yourself, you can see more clearly how to make your life more fulfilling. Use your solo travel experience to bask in the joy of being truly alone.

Young female tourist taking a selfie beside an ancient Chinese corridors - stock photo
Credit Jiyi via Getty Images
  1. Distance makes you appreciate the people back home

There’s nothing like being away to really make you miss the people back home. While traveling alone allows you to meet people who might change your life, creating a temporary distance between you and the people who are already in your life deepens your appreciation for them. When you return, those conversations with your best friend who finishes your sentences or holding your partner after a three-week break is the best feeling in the world. 

  1. Distance from normal life shows you what’s really important to you

While distance can remind you what you love about home, it can also show you what’s not working about your life back home. Maybe the way you spend your time isn’t working for you or you’re tired of your job. Maybe someone back home is a toxic influence in your life and you never really noticed it before. It might be hard to admit that some changes need to be made while you’re in the thick of it, but when you’re traveling solo, you often gain perspective and clarity.

Are you ready to book a solo travel trip? Tell us in the comments where you’d like to go.

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