After saving money for years and engaging with real world travelers in my own apartment as a host on Couchsurfing, I finally made the move in 2013. I quit my job and started to travel for long term. My initial plan was to travel nonstop for a year, but I got home after two years and I told myself this is not the end.
I believe you have figured out what question I was frequently asked: “why are you traveling alone? Don’t you feel lonely?” “No, not at all. Actually I really enjoy it!” So, why do I travel solo? Following are the major reasons:
Meet New People
The coolest thing about traveling alone is the people I have met on the road. I don’t think I could have met them if I traveled with someone else, because I probably would have spent all the time engaging with my travel buddies instead of paying attention to my surroundings and other people.
The fact is, although I’m a solo traveler, I haven’t spent more than half of the time alone on the road. That’s because I get to meet people everywhere: in hostels, on buses, trains, planes, at restaurants, on the street, etc. I met a girl from Mexico in a hostel in Venice. We got alone well and decided to travel in Venice together. Two weeks later, I saw her again in another hostel in Barcelona and we traveled together again. The world is smaller than we think it is!
I also enjoy meeting new people through the following three ways: couchsurfing, airbnb and helpx. This is another major reason why I love traveling alone because none of my friend who I have traveled with feels comfortable staying with strangers.
I Don’t Want to Miss Out
I’m single. I was hoping that I could find a boyfriend who’s willing to quit his job and travel round the world with me. But after searching for a few years, I realized if I really want to do it, I’d better do it on my own. I also have friends I can and have traveled with, however, as we all know, plans fall through. Trips didn’t happen and I ended up staying at home alone. After it happened to me a couple of times, I told myself I would just travel by myself. Life is too short to be sitting at home while the whole world is waiting to be enjoyed. Planning a solo trip whether it’s a weekend getaway or a two-week long vacation, it means I get to travel when I want to. Eventually, I was ready to explore the world on my own.
I Feel Empowered
If traveling makes me a better and smart person, then travelling alone makes me a super better and super smart person. Long term travel alone is not a vacation, it’s a full time job. Planning trips takes an incredible amount of time and efforts. Researching the next destination, making reservations, booking flights, trains or buses – all of these are not easy especially when you travel long term on a budget. Also, how to deal with emergencies, what if I’m sick, how to engage with local people and culture, what if the host I found on couchsurfing changes his mind, how to order food and ask for directions when I’m in some places where people don’t speak English or Chinese?
I feel good about myself for figuring out how to deal with it. This resulted in building confidence in all aspects in my life. I’m stronger and more confident than ever before. Sure, there are still some things in my life I’m afraid of, but I know with time I can overcome them.
I Can Do What I Want to Do
I believe many solo travels will give you a lot of reasons about the joy of traveling alone. Let’s get real. I do enjoy the company of others when traveling, but there’s a lot of compromise. Don’t get me wrong. I like sharing travel experiences with others especially my close friends and family because it’s the special moments and memories I’ll always have. However, sometimes, I just want to be selfish and do things I want to do. I didn’t enjoy spending 2/3 of the time on shopping when I was in Hong Kong with one of my best friends; I wasn’t happy about being dragged out of the bed at 6 AM when I traveled in Sanya (China’s Hawaii) with another friend. I certainly didn’t intend to ride the elephant when I was in Thailand with two other friends but I didn’t want to disappoint them. When traveling alone, I set itinerary and decide what time I wake up, what I will see and do, and what and where I will eat.
Great Service and Help
When you travel single, often times you can get better service and great help. People tend to admire those who are brave enough to travel solo. My experience taught me that people are more than happier to help someone like me: a small Asian girl traveling solo with a giant backpack. It has happened to me multiple times after I told people I travel alone, I got room upgrade, cocktail on the house, free lunch for thanking me sharing my stories and being so positive about life. I’m grateful for all these people who give me a hand when I need help and I hope to return the favor in the future.
Long-term travel alone can teach me more than almost anything else. It has taught me about myself, about life, about what I want in my life and what makes happy. It also highlights how different home is from everywhere else in the world, especially when I start to get a lot to compare with. For me, long term travel has changed my life. I will keep traveling and it will always be my passion.