5 Reasons Traveling Alone Is Good For Your Soul
Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmatians, once wrote, “One gets the feel of a house much better alone,” a quote that has stuck with me for years. And it’s not just houses—I think you get the feel of a place much better when you’re alone. Exploring new places and traveling by myself is one of my favorite things to do, even if it’s just on day trips to towns and cities in my area that I’ve never visited. I love wandering around aimlessly and happening upon cute little restaurants, music shops, and bookstores.
On a larger scale, traveling abroad for weeks at a time affords you a sense of tranquility and tests your courage, and as an added bonus, you get to do everything you want to do, without being held back by your traveling buddies. If you have the guts to do it and don’t easily get lonely, traveling alone is one of the best choices to make in your life, for these reasons.
1. Peace descends
One of my favorite parts of traveling alone is the state of mind it brings me. Being anywhere by myself, even if it’s down the road at my local Starbucks, creates this inner world of peace and introspection. I notice sounds more, I notice people more, I notice my surroundings more. And all of this background “white noise” becomes more poetic in my mind, until I feel like I’m a part of everything. I know—so deep, right? But truly, this inner peace is one of the reasons I love going anywhere by myself. Being alone allows you to get to know yourself all over again, without the need to tailor your behavior, compromise what you want, or become distracted by someone else’s needs and desires.
2. There’s no one else telling you where to go or how long to stay there.
Traveling alone is 100% self-indulgent. You make ALL the choices when it comes to which museum you’re going to visit, where to eat lunch, which tours to take, and how long to stay there. Personally, I love going to museums alone, because no one I travel with cares about seeing the same art/exhibits I do. I can stand for full minutes at a time looking at the same painting and be perfectly content. No one I know does the same thing, or with the same pieces. I don’t have to apologize for taking too long. Also, deciding what to do makes you more brave and a touch more reckless. Want to try absinthe or hike a difficult trail? You can do it all without anyone holding you back.
3. You can choose to meet people.
Traveling alone does invite certain dangers when it comes to meeting people, and taking proper precautions is a must (especially, unfortunately, if you’re a woman like me traveling alone), but if you feel comfortable and safe serendipitously corralling a buddy to join you on your adventures, you have the opportunity to meet some incredible people and forge friendships. How many of us have the chance to do that at all? Most of us are too wrapped up in our solitary lives to even notice the other people on the train in the morning, let alone try to strike up conversations with them. And yes, stranger danger is real, but so are some very good people.
4. You cultivate more confidence.
One of the biggest hindrances to traveling alone is looking “like a loser” or having people wonder why you’re by yourself. Don’t you have any friends? Couldn’t you get anyone to come with you? Traveling alone invites these questions and makes you much more comfortable facing them. No, I’m not a loser! I’ve got a huge effing family at home and a ton of friends, but, like, they’re all working right now and hey, I can do anything that I want. The confidence that stems from traveling alone, even when it comes to having dinner in a restaurant by yourself, lends a sense of security in yourself and your choices. You stop caring what other people think.
5. You get the feel of a place so much more.
One of the major benefits of going anywhere by yourself is that the place you’ve traveled to becomes yours. Nothing gives you the feel of a city more than getting lost on your way to the metro and knowing that only you can get yourself out of this mess. Even if you’re not lost, taking your time walking through the city streets makes you notice more than if you’d been walking with a friend or in a group, noses all buried in guidebooks and trying to get quickly from point A to B. Traveling alone slows your pace and makes you see things. That place becomes yours, partly because you don’t have to “share” it with anyone!