Sure, traveling with a significant other or embarking on an adventure with your favorite people is awesome, but there are some incredible perks of going at it alone as well. I always considered myself an extrovert, and therefore I felt anxious about the idea of traveling all by my lonesome self. Finally, I overcame my fear of being lonely while alone, and it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. So, I feel compelled to share my wisdom and tell you what it’s like and why this is something you definitely need to do, at least once.
I had a long weekend and a wish to visit Prague. My friends, on the other hand, were busy that weekend with family obligations, other people’s weddings or work. They could do it sometime next month, but this was my only window of opportunity. Coordinating a trip used to be much easier when we were younger and with fewer obligations, but planning a trip with others, especially on short notice now seems like mission impossible. So, I booked a flight, packed my bags and decided to reinvent adventure time.
Almost all my friends are what you would call ‘party animals’. I, on the other hand, am sort of a nerd. I love vintage bookshops, tiny cafes in quaint streets. I love staring at old architecture and monuments and take the ‘arm yourself with knowledge’ mantra very seriously. It’s wonderful when you and your friends have shared interests and identical expectations, but if there is something only you want to do, going alone gives you the opportunity to explore your destination on your own terms; it’s a kind of a bucket list if you think about it.
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In my experience, when traveling in company, someone always forgets to bring something along, and I find this extremely frustrating. When you know that you can rely only on yourself (and that there’s no one relying on you), you know exactly what you need. For instance, a travel pillow, a European adapter, a hidden wallet, flight socks (a lifesaver for long flights) are only a few of the essentials everyone needs. I always find myself browsing through Go Travel items when I lack travel gear. It’s frill-free and it saves you from asking your friends to bring something along and subsequently feeling frustrated when they forget the item.
We’re all different, and part of our differences lies in our spending power. You want to try the exquisite food at an amazing restaurant you read about, but this is not the kind of thing your friends want to splurge on. When you’re alone, you can spend your money as you please, so again, no compromise is entailed in this aspect either.
Booking for one
Finding accommodation (especially on short notice) is far easier when it’s just you. You can book a hotel or an apartment on Airbnb in a matter of minutes, plus, you skip the entire ‘I don’t like this hotel I want that one’ argument altogether.
You’re great company
The fictitious character Betty Draper (Mad Men) once said, ‘only boring people are bored’. You know that you’re enough and that you’ll never be bored on your own. Just walking around, being alone with your thoughts and musings can be a transcendental experience. You get to have your morning coffee in peace, not worry about making conversation when you don’t feel like it. If you’re not in the greatest of moods, it’s completely ok! There is no one there forcing you to cheer up and asking you the annoying ‘what’s wrong’ question. Plus, you can get around to your reading list.
Brand new friends
When you’re an extrovert, like I am, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with total strangers at a Starbucks. This can take you on amazing adventures. The locals will take you to pubs and wonderful streets that are unfamiliar to tourists, you get firsthand knowledge of the country and its culture and customs, and sometimes you can even forge great friendships. If you fall into the introvert category, this is as wonderful opportunity as any to step outside your comfort zone and conquer your fears.
I can’t say with certainty that this is a general rule, but my experience in the service departments was outstanding. In the hotel, I got a room upgrade, complimentary cocktails in the hotel lounge, and the cute barista at Starbucks threw in a great blueberry muffin on the house. Perhaps they felt sorry for me because I was alone, but hey, it got me some free goodies, so who cares what they thought.
Prague is a wonderful city with a rich culture filled with glamor, hardship and unprecedented beauty. My friends would probably take offense if I told them this, but I feel like I was able to experience the city on a much more profound level precisely because I was alone. There are no distractions, no questions, no one complaining and insisting on going someplace else. Being alone gives you a unique chance to soak it all in like rays of sunshine and just be one with the city.
The confidence booster
Sure, someone tried to steal my purse in the middle of Charles Bridge, and that was a tad traumatic, but oddly, it made me stronger. I found out that I was much feistier than I thought, and the experience made me feel incredibly empowered. The language barrier was definitely an issue; the fact that Czechs know very little English definitely took me by surprise. When you have to use arms, legs, gestures, it’s definitely funny, but when you manage to get the message across, as silly as it sounds, it makes you feel like you can do anything.
Have you taken a solo trip? And if so, what did you enjoy most about traveling solo? Let us know in the comments. Know someone who could use this little push to plan an alone trip, pass on the inspiration by sharing it on your favorite social media channel.