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Travelling Solo: 5 Reasons for Going It Alone

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Travelling Solo: 5 Reasons for Going It Alone

Written by
Sarah O'Neill
April 2017

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More and more travellers are venturing out on their own. We have 5 motivating reasons to inspire you to experience your own solo adventure.

A lonely traveller hitches their rucksack a little higher, and bravely takes that first step onto the long, winding road that lies before.

So many great adventures begin with that single traveller and the open road – and it’s not only Hollywood that is fascinated by the idea. In 2015, Visa Global found that 37% of first-time travellers decided to go solo on their first ever overseas holiday.

Perhaps you will soon be one of them?

Whether chance, choice or circumstance have brought you to consider venturing out on your own, we have 5 motivating reasons to inspire you to experience your own solo adventure.

1. A Journey of Self-Discovery

I was 19 years old and boarding a plane, entirely on my own, for the very first time. There was no one else I knew on the Boeing, and no familiar face waiting on the other side. It had been a crazy idea hatched in the early hours of the morning, as I suffered my way through another practice paper for my exams. I needed something to look forward to beyond the examination hall, so I made myself a promise. The promise of freedom.

My mother was sceptical, and more than a little worried, when we said our goodbyes at the airport. Three months on my own seemed a long time, even if Switzerland rather than Swaziland was my destination of choice. At the hostel, the lady at reception was hesitant to lend me the hiking poles. “You’re going on your own?” she asked, for the second time.

But standing on the summit high above the valley, after six hours of hiking, encountering nothing but bird song, pine trees, and the occasional dairy cow along the way, I felt for the first time the sense of exhilaration that comes with true independence. I wrote in my journal that night: I have finally become an adult.

Many describe their first solo trip as a kind of spiritual journey; a process of self-discovery taking us to a deeper understanding of what motivates and elates us, and what we are capable of.

There’s simply always more to discover about yourself and the world around you: for centuries, a great, solo journey has been a traditional rite of passage for becoming an adult. In the 17th-19th centuries it was called the Grand Tour, when young men and women would set off to travel the great cultural centres of Europe, in the belief that “Foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman”.

Today it might be called the gap year, the extended business trip, the weekend break – whatever the length or style of your solo trip, when you venture out on your own, you will come face to face with your own personality, your joys, your limits, your hopes and fears.

2. Living Life Intensely

It was the third guided walk I’d signed up for on the Waiheke Walking Festival in New Zealand. I was expecting more of the same: beautiful scenery, interesting local information from our guide, and a group of like-minded walkers with whom I could easily fall into conversation.

But on this “mindfulness” walk, our guide instructed us to walk in single file and in silence. At times she would stop to give us a particular focus – “Single out a particular sound to listen to,” or “Focus your eyes on a particular object, and observe it closely.” Slowly I began to filter out the other distractions, and truly appreciate the tiny details in the natural world before me.

So often the world around us is a cacophony of noise and a constant stream of information. The ongoing distraction can come from our mobile phone, the bombardment of public advertisements, or the person walking beside us, engaging us in their conversation.

Travelling solo gives us the opportunity to pare down the distractions, and really focus on the experience happening right in front of our eyes. We suddenly become aware of minute details in the world around us. Alone, we see more, hear more, and experience more of our surroundings. It can be a very calming, but equally intense experience.

Solo travel is a way to break out of the hive of activity in your everyday life and to truly engage in your holiday experience.

3. It’s All About You

Solo travel is the ultimate indulgence: it gives you the freedom to completely set your own agenda, meaning you can finally pursue those niche interests, or indulge in your impulses and whims without consulting anyone else. This is a luxury we rarely afford ourselves in everyday life, and a breath of freedom which you can truly enjoy when you travel alone.

Maybe you spend most of your time looking after someone else, or are passionate about a hobby that no one in your family shares. A solo trip is the perfect way to enjoy yourself without worrying about whether your partner/ kids/ friends are having a good time.

What’s more, you can tailor your outings to be as physically demanding as you need them to be, or as slow and steady as you wish, without fretting about expecting too much of others, or holding them back. Your journey reflects your speed and style of travel. Whether it’s a whistle-stop tour, or an extended sojourn in a favourite destination, the decision lies entirely with you.

One of the most liberating perks of solo travel is having full control of your finances. Travelling with family or friends can often result in an uneven balance of funds. Perhaps the group wants to eat out each night, but you’re happy with snacks and street food, or your friends would rather budget for a hostel when you’d prefer a nice hotel next to the beach? Even within relationships, there might be one partner who’s more frugal and another who’s more spendthrift, making budgeting the trip an ongoing series of negotiations and compromises.

The beauty of not sharing a budget with others is the freedom to fully indulge yourself and invest your hard-earned holiday cash in experiences that really matter to you. Whether you choose to treat yourself to the penthouse suite or to enjoy nature’s splendour for free, the ultimate decision is yours.

4. Invest in Yourself

Some people travel alone due to circumstance, perhaps because other friends or family lack the time, inclination or finances to join them, but many do so out of choice, recognising the value that “me-time” has for their relationships.

If you are a primary care-giver in your family, a key member in your company, or find yourself able to take a holiday when your partner can’t, it can be hard to tear yourself away. You might feel guilty about taking a break when someone else has to stay home and work, or unsure whether your business or household can run smoothly without you at the helm.

A solo trip can be your way of stepping back, letting go and taking time for yourself. Investing time in yourself is especially important if you are one of those people who invest so much of themselves in others. It is a way of recharging your batteries, so that you can re-invest yourself with new energy in your work and your relationships when you return.

You may even experience that huge sense of release that comes when we realise that our world still holds together when we’re not grasping all the strings!

5. Anyone Can Be A Solo Traveller

Many of us have a preconceived idea about solo travel, and put it in a box with a label like “for the young”, “for the adventurous”, or “not for me.” But the experience of travelling alone is available to everybody, regardless of age or gender. All it takes is the courage to step out your door.

My great-aunt will be 80 this year, and entered retirement 20 years ago with a bucket list of the places she’d always dreamed of travelling to. With no immediate family to travel with, she simply set off on her own, joining tours whenever she wanted company, and otherwise enjoying her independence. Whenever we visit, she’s always waiting with a cup of tea and the photo album of her latest trip.

She’s not alone – statistics collected by Millward Brown in 2015 show that nearly one quarter of all tourists (24%) travelled alone on their most recent overseas holiday. Most of these travellers were women. Many were over 45. As one woman poignantly wrote on the trending #viajosola, “Travelling is freedom. Freedom has no gender.”

Perhaps there are still some concerns holding you back? Take a look at our Travelling Solo: 10 Top Tips for First-Timers for tips on dealing with common concerns, such as safety and loneliness.

So many great adventures begin with one lonely traveller and the open road:

Perhaps the next adventure will be yours?

Written by Sarah O'Neill

A passionate traveller, linguist and writer, Sarah has visited over 20 countries around the globe. She loves immersing herself in new cultures, learning the language, and getting to know the local people.

Would you like to be an author at Moments of Inspiration?
Do you have an original idea for a guest blog post or interest to write regularly as an author for us? Send us your article or simply contact us at:

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