Many people won’t travel alone because they don’t see the benefits of doing so. Many others won’t travel alone because they have misconceptions about what a solo trip is like. I’m here to dispel some of these myths and misconceptions for you.
Misconception #1: Traveling alone is unsafe.
For as long as I’ve been traveling regularly, I’ve traveled solo. And the most common thing I hear from people is “Isn’t that really dangerous? Didn’t you see Taken?” This is probably also due to the fact that I’m a woman, which makes this myth doubly enduring. But traveling alone is not inherently unsafe, unless you’re going to an unsafe area. If you’re worried about traveling alone somewhere ask yourself this: would a person commuting to and from work in that city be in any real danger? The answer is probably no. From New York to Tokyo, people live their lives and they get by pretty much on their own. As a tourist in an unfamiliar place, you will, too.
Whether you’re with other people or not, if you follow basic safety rules, you should be fine. Keep your belongings close to you. Stay alert of your surroundings. But above all, trust your gut. If you feel uneasy walking down a dark alleyway late at night, go a different route. Or go back out to a main street and hail a cab.
Misconception #2: Traveling alone is boring.
I’ve always firmly believed that only boring people get bored. But you have to be a special kind of boring to get bored on a vacation. When you travel alone you can do literally anything you want, because you don’t have to compromise with anyone else. So if you’re getting bored, it’s because you’re choosing the wrong activities. Pretty much any place in the world has unique things to do. So if you like nature, throw on some sneakers on go on a hike. If you like art or music, go to a museum or catch a show. You might even be able to catch a show at a museum. Interesting things like that happen in the world.
Misconception #3: Traveling alone is lonely.
This misconception comes from the fact that you’re not bringing your own company from home, therefore you will be sad and alone on your vacation. Whatever will you do at dinnertime? Who will you talk to? First, not every enjoyable meal must be shared. In fact, I’m sure you’ve probably had great meals at home on your own and you didn’t even consider the fact that you were alone. You just don’t want to feel like that lonely guy surrounded by groups of friends and couples. Let go of your hang-ups about doing things alone and enjoy yourself. Do the same things you do at home that you like to do on your own. Read a book, write in a journal, look through your pictures, text your friends back home, or play games on your phone.
If you’re yearning for good conversation, talk to the people around you. Depending on where you stay, you can meet people easily at your hotel or hostel, at bars, on the street. Really, you can find someone to converse with just about anywhere. It could be another traveler or it could be a local. You never know who you might run into. That’s part of the fun.
Misconception #4: Traveling alone is not as fun as traveling with other people.
Speaking of fun, one of the other misconceptions about solo travel is that it’s not as fun or memorable as trips taken with other people. I think people who believe this tend to overestimate how fun it is to travel with other people. Even the most well matched of travelers will have disagreements about stops on their vacations or just plain disagreements, which can really put a damper on your trip. It can also be exhausting to be surrounded by the same people for days on end. But I’m digressing somewhat. At the end of the day, if you think travel is fun then you will have fun traveling whether you’re alone or with other people. If you only have fun on vacation with other people, then you don’t like travel; you like socializing. And as I mentioned above, even if you’re traveling alone, you can easily do that.
Misconception #5: Traveling alone is more expensive than traveling with other people.
This isn’t a total misconception but it’s certainly not always true either. Sure, when you travel with others, you can split the cost of hotel, cabs, and other shareable expenses. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be spending less money. With regards to hotel, if you’re on a budget, you can always stay in a hostel, which can be dirt cheap compared to any hotel, even a hotel room shared by two or more people. If you happen to know someone where you’re going, they’re going to be more likely to let you crash on their couch if it’s just you than if it’s you and three friends. And there’s nothing cheaper than free. You don’t even have to know anyone where you’re going. Sites like Couchsurfing.com match up thrifty travelers with people willing to put a roof over your head for free for a couple of days.
Outside of those major expenses, the cost of activities can add up. You’re more likely to pay for things you have no interest in if you travel with other people, whether it’s meals or entrance to tourist sites around town. If you go alone, you can be more judicious about your spending.
So don’t believe everything you hear about traveling alone. Solo vacations are exactly what you make them.