Travel is fun, but sometimes being with other people, family or friends, can be taxing. Between the constant faffing and attempts to people-please, the differing opinions and preferences, everyone often ends up moody and nothing gets done. Absolute nightmare.
Although it’s comforting to move with the flock, and even be shepherded around by a tour guide or a structured itinerary, travelling alone is something everyone should consider throwing themselves into at least once. But consider yourself warned: it can become addictive.
Initially, it feels weird. After being around companions for so long – your roommates, your family, your dogs – you’re all alone in the big wide world with nothing to guide you except your own addled brain. You fret that something will go wrong, hang onto your phone like a lifeline and Skype home every chance you get. The infinite possibilities feel overwhelming, and you want your mum.
After a few weeks of travelling solo, you’ve changed. You’ve become more selfish with your time. You’ve realised that by going it alone, you can plan your budget down to a tee, squeeze in everything you want to see and do, and ditch all the other sights you deem unnecessary. You revel in the level of control and efficiency bestowed upon your wanderings.
Your willingness to compromise continues to dwindle from here onwards. Should you meet and converge paths with a fellow traveller for any period, you may soon become antsy and keen to rid yourself of the hindrance of company. Debates over museum prices, hostel options and which kebab shop to hit up for lunch drain your patience and energy at an unprecedented rate. If anyone interferes with your finely tuned plans, you’re gonna get really murdery, really fast.
And just like that, you’re a solo-travel addict. This isn’t a bad thing: in fact, consider it an investment into your self-confidence and independence. You might come across an unfriendly asshole, but no matter. You should do it anyway, unfriendly assholes exist everywhere. It’s your adventure.
It doesn’t have to be a year-long sabbatical in the mountains of Nepal. Start small: a day of solo sightseeing, a quick train to a new city, a weekend in an obscure beach town. Even if the experience isn’t exactly what you expected, you’ll always learn something about yourself and feel a sense of accomplishment for digging deep and going it alone.
We’re not saying you should never let go of the wheel while captaining your own ship. Sure, make friends, share your story, get involved, even let people interfere in your plans once in a while. And certainly be open to learning about other people and hanging out with them. But this is your adventure and it might not go on forever – so screw relying on others, waiting around, and paying €20 to get into some crappy museum you didn’t care about anyway. When in doubt, just go it alone. You’ll thank us later.
By Holly Bailey