10 Reasons why Traveling on your Own is Best
A long, long, long, long time ago, back in the day when my budget was tight and my morals were loose, I discovered we live in a not-so-lonely planet. At the tender age of twenty five I set off to the other side of the world on a 12 month backpacking trip on my own. Yep, that’s right, completely and utterly alone. Just me and my trusty backpack stuffed to bursting with an empty passport, instant noodles and condoms… happy days.
Let me say this again.
Other side of the world – a girl – all alone. I look back on those days with a mixture of wonder and awe at the balls I had. I also wonder if I would be happy letting my little girls do that in fifteen year’s time. Then I remember – nothing dangerous happened, it wasn’t scary and I was never ever lonely.
So here are 10 reasons why traveling alone resulted in the best year of my life:
1. You have to talk to everyone
Contrary to popular belief, traveling alone doesn’t mean you are on your own all the time. Quite the opposite. You walk into a hostel, you smile at the first person you see and you talk to them. They introduce you to other people who are also traveling alone, and within five minutes you have a new pack of pals. On my travels I befriended a woman who spoke to angels, a world Scrabble champion, a male stripper, a Kylie impersonator and an Aboriginal pearl diver. Would I have got to know them had I been with my friend from back home all the time? Probably not.
2. You go with the flow
When you are a solo traveler you have no one to answer to but yourself. A group of fun looking people have invited you on a cross-country jeep safari for the weekend? Great! You can decide on the spot.
3. No one knows the real you
At first I felt like a contestant on Blind Date, every day it was – “Hi, my name is…I’m 25 and I come from…”, then after a while I realized that it could work to my advantage. No one had to know that I wasn’t really that much of a dare devil or that I couldn’t hold my drink. I could be who I wanted to be, whenever I wanted to be. Complete freedom.
4. You can change your mind
“Yep, I’d love to meet you guys at the beach bar tomorrow.”
The next morning someone invites you somewhere better? You can just walk away in the opposite direction. Who’s going to be whining in your ear telling you that they were looking forward to the beach bar?
5. You can just leave
Like the time I woke up where I shouldn’t have woken up, regretted it and hot footed it on the first bus out of town. When you travel alone you too can just grab your one bag, what’s left of your dignity and never be seen again. No apologies, no explanation.
6. Your mates aren’t there to tell you ‘No!’
It’s great as your mates aren’t there to tell you not to do something.
It’s terrible as your mates aren’t there to tell you not to do something.
I spent many a drunken night doing things I would never have done in my home town. But who cares? Who has to know?
7. Your money is your own
Enough said. No lending anyone anything.
8. You learn the hard way
No one is there to warn you or advise you. Think it’s a good idea to wear tennis shoes on a ten hour trek up a mountain? Well no one knows you well enough to call you a prat. So when you spend Easter weekend wearing newspaper-stuffed trainers with plastic bags taped around the ankles because it’s raining, they now have holes in and the shops are shut, you will have learnt the hard way. But that’s a good thing.
9. No food sharing
Ask any globetrotter and they will tell you that after your backpack, the number one priority for any traveler is your food. You know exactly how many tins of tuna and biscuits you have in your bag…so good job there are no friends dipping into your sacred stash.
10. Your stories are yours alone
You now have the best stories that all your mates back home are waiting to hear about. Plus you can make them as crazy and exaggerated as you want…as they are your stories and yours alone.
So what are you waiting for, my fellow explorers?
Don’t hang around for your friend or boyfriend to save up enough dosh, leave their job or get their act together. Grab your backpack, your sacred tinned goods and passport…and off you go. And don’t forget to leave behind your friends (and morals too) – it’s so much more fun that way.
And who knows, you may even meet the love of your life while having the time of your life. I did!