Hi, I’m Hanna. I’m a travel blogger/web developer from Chicago and I LOVE to travel alone.
I’ve traveled in a variety of contexts—with friends, with family, with a large group, with a small group, and by myself. Each of these trips has been a wonderful experience for different reasons. It’s nice to have someone there to share the journey and I definitely wouldn’t complain if someone wanted to tag along, but to me, there’s no better feeling than arriving in a brand new place and being surrounded by strangers just waiting to be turned into friends.
Here’s why I love to travel alone so much:
I can do whatever I want: no limits, no judgment.
Want to wake up at 4 am to catch the sunrise on the beach? Do it.
Want to skip all the main (read: overrated) tourist attractions in the city and instead sit outside a cafe all day and people-watch like a local? Do it.
Want to stay out all night dancing with a group of people you just met? Do it.
Want to nap in the middle of the day because it’s hot and you’re exhausted? Do it.
You travel along for yourself and yourself alone. You don’t have to operate around someone else’s schedule or accommodate anyone else’s interests. It’s your trip, your life, and your chance to make the most of it.
The downside of this is that no one will be there to tell you that eating exclusively German sausage and drinking alcohol for a week is a terrible idea, but you’ll figure that one out on your own pretty quickly.
To get out of my comfort zone.
I’m an “ambivert”, or as I like to describe it, a shy extrovert. I’m also a creature of habit (one of those weird people who eats the same thing every day, don’t @ me). When I travel with a group of people that I already know, it’s easy to fall into a pattern. They expect me to behave in a certain way, so therefore I will. To travel alone is to constantly step out of your comfort zone, but it’s much harder to do that when you have a safety net of familiarity with you. When you’re constantly on the move, you have to talk to new people and try new things—it’s just unavoidable. And I love that.
To become a more confident version of myself.
When you are alone in a brand new place, if you don’t get over yourself and talk to strangers, you won’t be able to talk to anyone at all. I was never super outgoing, but the easiest way to get more comfortable striking up conversations with strangers (in any setting) is just to get out there and do it, over and over again.
Plus, there’s nothing better than the feeling of looking back at your adventures and knowing that you successfully navigated through the obstacles that come along with keeping yourself alive and thriving in a place where you don’t speak the language and don’t have a network of friends and family to fall back on. You planned the trip, you saved up for it, and then you went and came back full of new experiences and memories. If you can do that, you can do anything.
To become more self-reliant, and learn when to lean on others for help.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been stubborn and wanted to do everything by myself. But when you travel alone, no one is going to tell you what to do, how to get there, what you should or shouldn’t eat, or how long you should stay. You have unlimited choices in what you can do, and that’s awesome.
However, sometimes you need to lean on other people. You can struggle to figure out how to navigate the Budapest subway system or Google Translate all the food labels at the Croatian supermarket and spend two hours getting lost and looking for something you can actually eat, or you can ask a friendly stranger for help and they can point you in the right direction. A smile and a little politeness go a long way, and you may even end up with a new friend.
To meet new people from around the world.
People who travel alone a lot will know it’s not always easy. Especially if you’re on the road long-term, it can be really tough to make new friends in each new place you visit, only to have to say goodbye a few short days later (repeat * infinity). If you’re working and traveling, you can easily go a whole day without talking to anyone else, despite being surrounded by people.
Eating dinner by yourself can get old after a while, and there are definitely times that you will feel lonely on the road. But you’re never truly alone unless you choose to be. One of my favorite things about traveling is staying in hostels and other spaces that cater to travelers because there you can meet people from all over the world. More often than not, you’ll meet other solo travelers who are in the same situation and you can find an instant group of people to explore with, create memories with, and to start friendships that will last a lifetime.
Every journey has its ups and downs. There will be times when you would love to have someone there with you, whether to gush about how incredible the thing you just did was, or to go out and get you some food if you get sick on the road. But, you learn so much about the world and about yourself along the way. It’s an experience I strongly believe everyone should do at least once in their lives, at the very least just to get out of your comfort zone and do something different. It doesn’t need to be some wild, overseas trip—it could be something as simple as driving to that place you’ve always wanted to visit an hour away from home.
Do something new. Get out of your comfort zone. The world is a big, beautiful, and kind place. Get out there and explore it.
Suggested next reading: Backpacker Culture: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly