Flying Solo: On The Benefits of Traveling Alone

People like hanging out with other people. It’s one of the joys of life.

Another joy of life is going home and getting away from all those people you just hung out with.

While some people are purely introverted or 100 percent extroverts, it’s a lot more common to be somewhere in between. We have a need to be social, but when that need has been fulfilled, it’s time to go home, change into your comfiest pajamas, and watch Stranger Things 2 on Netflix.

Most of us push aside any sort of desire to be alone when we travel, however. There’s a line of thinking that says travel is designed to be a shared experience, so shouldn’t you bring along another person or two?

Besides, it’s usually at least a little cheaper to split the costs. For that and other reasons, most people travel with a friend, romantic partner, or family member in tow.

There are advantages to that, but don’t overlook the benefits of traveling alone every now and then. It offers a certain freedom that most of us didn’t realize we wanted, at least not until we experienced it for ourselves.

Me, myself, and I

When you go at it alone, you don’t have to wake up your perpetually sleepy partner for a red-eye flight. You don’t have to worry about wearing nice clothes in an attempt to impress your friends with your sense of style. Just wear sweatpants and your college T-shirt; the other people on the plane aren’t going to care.

If you forgot to renew your passport until a couple of weeks before a trip to India, that’s not ideal, but at least you have options to expedite your passport renewal. If your slacker brother forgets to get a passport, then you have to either the cancel the trip entirely or leave him behind. It’s much harder to leave yourself behind, for better and for worse.

Travel is exhausting and stressful under even the best conditions. Some people like to talk themselves sick as a way of distracting themselves; others would prefer to turn up the volume on their headphones and ignore the outside world. When you’re traveling alone, you’re under zero obligation to talk your best friend through their latest relationship crisis.

You can just sit down, close your eyes, and think about whatever crosses your mind, even if it’s something like the number of tubes required to build a 747. Even better than that is knowing that you won’t be forced to accept a middle seat just so you and your boyfriend can sit together. You love your boyfriend, but not as much as you despise middle seats.

Riding solo also forces you to step outside your comfort zone. You may have to ask strangers for directions, and that’s OK. Self-sufficiency is key to becoming a mature, confident adult.

You might also have to be more cautious about heading to certain places when alone, but that can be a positive as well. It’s a good idea to do some research into potentially unsafe areas before you leave.

You can get in trouble if you just assume you’ll be fine because another person is going to be with you. A lot of tourists get overconfident and fall victim to scams. Be safe out there, and have fun not answering to anyone except yourself.

Cover image: DallasHolm.com

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