November 25, 2013

Top 4 reasons to travel solo

Have you ever started to plan a trip somewhere, then put your plans on the shelf because you couldn't find anyone that could go with you?  Yeah, you have?  Well, why didn't you just go on your own?

I know, it's a daunting thought.  You'll be all by yourself in a strange place.  No one has your back. You won't feel as safe.  You won't have fun.  You'll have to eat meals out alone.  You could DIE.

What's so bad about all that?  Ok, dying would suck.  But seriously, what are the chances that you'll die on vacation simply because you went by yourself?  You probably have a better chance of getting your wallet stolen by a flying monkey. I once had my wallet stolen by a gypsy, and I wasn't even by myself.

Are you still not convinced?  Or are you now afraid of flying monkeys picking your pocket?  Well, here are my top 4 reasons for giving that solo trip a chance:

1.  You can do what you want, whenever you want.  You're a morning person?  No one will sleep in late and keep you from doing your AM exploring.  You're dying to go to the Musee d'Orsay on your last afternoon in Paris, but your travel partner wants to pay homage to Jim Morrison and go burn incense at his grave?  No need to choose, and no need to split up.  The world is your oyster, and you don't have to do what anyone else wants.  This is awesome.  Your inner child will finally get what it always wanted - complete freedom.

Also, best excuse ever to take a bunch of selfies.
2.  It is SO much easier to meet people when you're traveling by yourself.  Solo travelers tend to gravitate toward each other.  If you stay in a communal-style place like a bed-and-breakfast or a hostel, you're sure to meet other travelers and end up exploring and eating with them. If you go out to eat alone, eat at the bar where it's much easier to strike up a conversation with someone.  Shoot, you might even meet a local that will give you some awesome insider tips on places to go.

3.  You can have all the alone time you want. If you're the type that really benefits from some alone time to relax and recharge, you're guaranteed to have that.  Unless you're staying in a shared room in a youth hostel.  Then you're just sh*t out of luck.  Also, you can't walk around your room naked.

4.  You'll actually learn more about the places you go because you'll have to figure out everything on your own. That may sound difficult and daunting, but come on.  You're smart.  You can figure out where to catch a bus and how to get to that rockin' pub with live music that you keep hearing about.  You'll understand the lay of the land much better because you figured it all out yourself and didn't rely on anyone else to do it for you.  And this may sound weird, but I promise you will remember your trip that much more vividly because you took the time and effort to learn everything you needed to do what you wanted.

Still apprehensive?  A friend and I once met a girl in the Slovak Republic that was traveling around eastern Europe by herself for a couple of weeks.  She had a severe dairy allergy, but she didn't let it stress her out, and she certainly didn't let it stop her from having a fabulous trip.  She couldn't read many of the menus in the restaurants she went to, so inevitably something she ordered ended up having cheese, cream, or milk in it.  She would just keep ordering until something came out that she could eat.  She left a lot of confused waiters in her wake, but her strategy worked.  She didn't get sick, and she could care less what the waiters thought.  She did what she had to do, and it was fine.

My same friend worked in a hostel in Berlin, and one day a girl in a wheelchair checked in.  She was traveling around Europe - by herself.  IN A WHEELCHAIR.  So if there's a trip you're dying to take but you haven't found a travel companion yet, just go.  I'm willing to bet you'll have a much easier time than Wheelchair Chick and Dairy Girl.

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