The thought of setting off alone with just a backpack as your companion may seem daunting. Heading off into the great unknown is both exhilarating and nerve-racking; especially if it’s the first time you choose to travel solo.
Yet travelling alone has many benefits and it’s often said to encourage a more authentic travel experience. By travelling alone you open yourself up more to possibilities, whether that’s meeting new people or becoming involved with a cause. It can also allow for more flexibility and make you more approachable to others, leaving you more open to absorb new cultures.
The main benefit to travelling on your own is that you are the master of your destiny, your own adventure travel experience. It’s completely up to you where to go and what to see – something that you may have to compromise on if you plan the whole trip with a friend. You can be as lazy or as active as you want, and you can be as well or as badly planned as you like. It means you can tailor-make your own trip, and you can plan to do various projects and adventures that mean you’re not entirely solo for the entirety of the trip, while still being able to do what you want.
You will always find people to chat with along the way, whether they are locals or fellow travellers. But often people who are travelling on their own want to fully immerse themselves within the community and country that they are visiting, rather than remaining on the usual tourist trail and always being on the move.
An excellent way to do this is to opt to volunteer for two to four weeks doing something like teaching, as you will have the opportunity to stay in a homestay with a local family. By doing this you are able to do something worthwhile and rewarding, while learning vast amounts firsthand about the culture you are living in. This is a good way to break up your travels and offers the chance to interact with people who can teach you about their lives, while you help enrich theirs.
Getting involved in community development work offers, again, a chance to touch base for a few weeks, meet a few other like minded people and really throw yourself into yourself in a new culture. This will not only be a rewarding and amazing experience, but will give you vital knowledge of the local customs to take away with you as you continue to travel through that particular country.
By travelling alone, you open yourself up to so many more possibilities than if you had planned out the entire route with a travelling partner. You are so much more flexible, and able to change your plans at the last minute. You can travel alone but drop in on various projects, tours, or volunteering opportunities to learn more about the country, meet some new people, and get a truly non tourist experience. You will learn many valuable lessons, meet more people, and have more authentic experiences than you may have had if you were with a friend.