Have you ever not traveled somewhere because you couldn’t find a travel buddy? Certainly, the thought of traveling to a foreign country alone, where there’s a good chance you won’t understand the language and will be away from everything familiar can be discouraging. But, if you’re up for the adventure, solo travel can be the experience of a lifetime. Want to spend the entire day bike riding along the Mediterranean in Barcelona? Do it! Want to explore the leather markets in Florence without a time limit? Go for it. Want to wander around the Van Gogh Museum for hours in Amsterdam? Knock yourself out! Traveling solo is certainly something that takes a little courage and the right attitude, but once you do it you will want to do it again. Here are some of the reasons you should consider traveling solo when studying abroad.
#1 – You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want
Traveling alone gives you a tremendous amount of freedom. If you want to change your plans because you heard about amazing waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes or you have the opportunity to go skydiving in Interlaken, you can make that decision without consulting anyone else. One of the best parts of traveling alone, I discovered, is that you are not obligated to compromise on any of the things you really want to do during your journey. It is one time you are allowed to be selfish because you alone dictate what you want to get out of your adventure.
Looking for suggestions on some solo-travel-friendly destinations? Check out this article on BuzzFeed.
#2 – You’ll meet amazing people
When we travel with friends we tend to stick to our little cliques and even though you will meet new people, the interactions are usually not be the same. While you are on your own, you are much more eager to meet new people, team up with other travelers and generally reach out more in order to socialize. You are more likely to leave a city with friends that are more than just a new name on Facebook, but friends who you might actually visit or host. Before I started traveling solo, I sought advice from a bunch of travelers and the one piece of advice they all gave me was to not be afraid to invite yourself out with a group of random people from the hostel you’re staying at, because most of the time they would love your company.
#3 – You can be spontaneous and flexible
Whether you consider yourself a spontaneous person or not, spontaneity is a quality that solo travel brings out of you. It is always good to have a rough itinerary, but you might find out that a bus route you planned on using is no longer in service and you might have to completely change your travel plans. Some of my favorite memories are the unexpected adventures and mishaps that I could not have planned out. So remember not to stress out if something doesn’t go as planned, just go with the flow, and enjoy the unexpected adventures that present themselves before you.
#4 – You can explore yourself
While traveling solo, you can leave your old self behind and start to be a fresh, new you. You are able to explore parts of your personality you are not very familiar or comfortable with. You will have a lot of time to think about yourself and have many opportunities to reflect. During your adventure, you might be challenged by the unexpected and be surprised how well you respond to these situations. You have the chance to empower yourself by being the positive, intelligent, and generous person you are.
#5 – You’ll learn how to be the most independent and confident version of yourself
Solo travel allows you to explore not only the possibilities in the world, but also the possibilities within yourself. Solo travel helps you to become more independent, self-confident, and outgoing. And without familiar friends and family to form a cushion between you and the unknown, you learn more about the world and the part you play in it.
#6 – You can leave everything else behind
You can finally take the time you deserve to leave everything else behind. You are allowed to disconnect from the world for a while. Turn off your cell phone, “forget” to check you emails and Facebook messages for a few days. You don’t have to think about your responsibilities and problems. Sometimes our brains need to get rid of old thoughts in order to create space for new and better ones. So just disconnect yourself from everything behind you for a little and you might be amazed by how renewed you will feel once you return.
#7 – You’ll never actually be alone
Whether you notice it or not there are always people circulating around you. As long as you’re open to the people and opportunities that cross your path, you never actually have to be alone. You can always join the free walking tour in Budapest to surround yourself with new people or you can ask to sit with the person sitting alone at the café. The possibilities are endless; you just have to be the one to take advantage of them. I can almost guarantee you that that most experienced solo travelers would never use the word lonely to describe any of their solo adventures.
#8 – You’ll discover that you are a total badass
Nothing is as empowering as doing something completely on your own. Just the simple act of trying something new, challenging yourself to eat escargot, or going up to a group of complete strangers will make your inner badass shine.
It’s completely natural to feel a little nervous and out of place at the beginning of any new adventure. But the good news is you will overcome it. Embrace the opportunities that present themselves, embrace in the moments that stand before you, and you may be surprised as what traveling alone can teach you about the world and about yourself. Travel alone, because “I couldn’t find anyone to travel with me” is not a good excuse for not doing something you want to do while studying abroad.
Do you plan on traveling alone during study abroad? Let us know in the comments!
Photo sources: TonioMora via Flickr, Thompson Rivers via Flickr