Solo holidays are an incredible and adventurous way to see the world. Not everyone will venture out on their own, and in fact, most people that I know think I’m either crazy or amazing for doing so (or maybe a little of both).
It seems to be more common in other parts of the world than in the United States as I have met a solid number of Europeans who go on solo holidays.
These solo trips aren’t just about traveling to new destinations. They are as much about the experience you have when you are on them as they are about what you are seeing and doing.
I think they are amazing and a great way to really stretch yourself past your comfort level. This article will explain why.
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Would I Recommend Solo Holidays?
I have traveled domestically and internationally many times with other people and solo, and I highly recommend solo holidays. Why? People often ask me why I do it and the answer isn’t always straight-forward.
There have been times when I haven’t had a travel buddy. I wanted to travel somewhere and either didn’t know someone who wanted to go there or he/she couldn’t travel at that time.
However, the truth is that I like to travel solo.
There are a lot of great benefits to solo holidays, both for personal growth and development and also about the trip itself. I think it’s something everyone should do at least once.
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Why I Love Solo Holidays
Why would anyone in their right mind ever travel solo?? I can tell you that the first time I did it, my mother didn’t talk to me during the entire trip. She was so angry that I would do such a thing.
Never mind that I was in my 30s at the time and went to Paris, not somewhere in a war-torn country. It didn’t matter where I was going, it was just crazy in her mind.
Thanks to that trip, I started a travel blog. Well, indirectly so. I decided to send emails to my mother every night of the fun things I did all day in Paris.
This was both so she knew I was still alive but also to show her what a good time I was having. This was back in the days before I had a laptop but I found an internet cafe around the corner from my hotel.
A couple of months after I got back, I tried to find the emails I sent and lost several of them. That sparked my interest in retaining my lists of what I had done and voila, one travelogue later, now I have an official travel blog.
Advantages of Traveling Solo Over Traveling with Other People
It can be challenging to find people you travel well with. People have different travel styles and different interests. Some people are more active, or more social than you. Others have different interests.
It can be a challenge to merge into one vacation people’s different interest so both people are fully satisfied.
I also like some “me time” on trips, and people don’t always understand that. It can be awkward to ask for some space and people sometimes may take offense.
No, “me time” doesn’t mean you rattle on when I’m in my “quiet space,” and no, I shouldn’t have to hide in the bathroom to get away from you! (Yes, both of these have happened to me on trips).
When I’m on solo holidays, I don’t have to worry about any of that. The trip is what I planned to do and what I enjoy doing. I only have to interact with people when I want to (well, beyond being polite in public). And if I want to go days without talking much to anyone, I can do that.
If I had to choose, I would generally rather travel with another person than on solo holidays as I do enjoy sharing experiences with people I enjoy. However, I would rather travel solo than travel with someone I don’t enjoy traveling with.
And there are times that I’d just rather travel solo regardless.
18 Reasons to Travel on Solo Holidays
There are a lot of great reasons for solo holidays and this article will spell out a lot of them. For those adventurous souls who enjoy solo holidays, you may have others.
I’d love your comments or messages with any suggestions you have so I can update this piece later.
1. Create Your Own Adventure
When you travel on your own, you get to make all of the decisions. You get to plan out the trip that you want in the exact way that you want it.
Everything from location to accommodation, to the activities, whatever you will do are fully within your control. There’s no negotiating needed—you have exclusive decision-making rights.
This can be a downside as well as trip planning is a lot of work! But I find it rewarding to spend the time knowing how much I’ll enjoy my customized trip.
Do you remember the “choose your own adventure books?” When I was a kid, there was a series of books that allowed you to determine the ending of the book from a couple, or few, selections. I absolutely loved them and had a bunch.
Solo travel, to me, is very much about creating your own adventure. the flexibility and control of my own destiny are very appealing.
2. Set Your Own Pace
If you want to spend your time on a beach or you’d prefer to walk around cities or hike mountains for 12-hour days, you can do it. It’s entirely up to you.
Do you want to spend the entire day seeing things or do you want to take breaks in coffee shops to watch the world go by? Whatever pace you want your solo travel holiday to be, you’ve got it!
Now, I think it’s perfectly ok to travel with someone else but you agree to do some things on your own to customize the trip. I have a good friend that I have traveled with a number of times who does appreciate a slower pace and we have worked it out.
Sometimes she slows me down, sometimes I speed her up. Other times we agree to disagree and each go separate ways for a bit. It’s not always easy to come to this arrangement though, and when I travel on my own, I don’t ever have to worry about it.
What I’ve Learned
One thing I have learned as I get older that I do have to be careful of is my pace. I am used to being on the go from sunrise to after sunset and I simply don’t have that kind of energy anymore! I have gotten quite sick on my last couple of trips where I was gone for two weeks.
I’m slowly learning to listen to my body more and to plan a little bit less to allow myself to rest when I need it. Having another person on my trip might make that easier, but I’m learning to better listen to my body and adjust accordingly. This learning is a great thing.
3. Set Your Own Schedule
On a solo trip, you get up when you want to and go to sleep on your timeline. You can nap if you wish or just keep moving. It’s all up to you. There are really no rules and you can do whatever makes you happy.
As a morning bird, I do enjoy getting up early to do things and then if I get tired, take a power nap in the afternoon. But I have traveled with people with the opposite body clock who want to sleep in on their vacation and only leave the hotel mid-day. Definitely not for me!
A Scheduling Example
I remember one person I traveled with years ago liked to sleep in in the morning, and her idea of sleeping in was 10 or 11 a.m. Then she took a couple of hours to get ready before going out.
It was definitely something we should have talked about before leaving on the trip. Thankfully it was a long weekend and not a two-week adventure.
After the first morning, I told her I was going to get up when my body clock was set to wake up and would take the car to do something while she slept. Then, I would be back at whatever time she wanted to be ready by.
She was resistant at first but I persisted. I wasn’t about to spend half the day in the hotel room watching her sleep!
You can absolutely negotiate the trip with your travel partner and I highly recommend doing so. It’s not a good idea to always sacrifice what is important to you as that doesn’t make for a fun time.
When you travel on your own, you have a custom-tailored trip to your schedule. No negotiation needed!
4. See and Do What You Choose
When you travel on your own, you get to set the itinerary and can do all of the things you want to do. You can plan out what you’ll do or you can decide to “wing it” and be spontaneous. Both can be fun.
And when you are on a solo trip, you don’t have to worry about someone else not liking the plans you have made or being uncomfortable with not having plans at all.
Though, as I mentioned earlier, this means all of the planning for the trip lies on you. There’s no negotiating over what you will see while you’re on your solo holiday. It’s all based on your choices either before the trip or during. And that’s a great thing!
5. Become More Self-Sufficient
When you travel, there’s a lot of work you have to do. This includes figuring out where you are going and the navigation to get there. This may include figuring out public transportation and money exchange rates to determine costs, etc.
There’s a good bit to figure out and when you’re on solo holidays, it’s all on you. Planning a trip on your own provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
It’s a lot of work as there are so many places to research to get good information and it can take an incredible amount of time to do this. Just the planning alone requires good problem-solving skills and a lot of creativity to put together all of the moving parts.
When you’re on the trip, there is also a lot of work that needs to be done. Simple things like figuring out how to navigate the subway to more complicated things like coordinating travel between cities with a deadline.
The more time you spend figuring things out, the more self-sufficient you become. That’s a good life skill to have and another great reason to go on solo holidays as it gives you lots of practice.
6. Face Your Weaknesses
Solo holidays gives you some great opportunities to work on things that you want to where no one knows you. You don’t have to worry about looking like an idiot because who cares? You’ll never see these people again!
Are you shy and have trouble going up to people to talk with them? Do you hate eating out alone in restaurants? Solo holidays are a great opportunity to build some new skills.
Believe it or not, even as an extrovert, I sometimes feel a bit nervous going up to people and starting a conversation. I find I’m a bit quieter and less interactive on day one of my solo holidays and it takes a little bit to work up the nerve.
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I’m afraid of heights. Actually, terrified would probably be a better term. I’m really not good when I’m up high and in a position where I could fall (glass elevators don’t really bother me, but standing on the top of a tall building… yeah, you get it).
I do enjoy nice views, though, and manage to find places on every trip I go on where I’m climbing something: a tower, a church, a mountain. It’s not always pretty, but I do it.
And you know what, I often get cheered on for my bravery. I worry less about looking like an idiot than I do about missing out on an experience.
7. Learn How to Say No
Saying no can be a tough thing for people. It can be especially hard for women. Many of us are taught at a young age to accommodate others and to take care of them, so we are trained to say yes.
We subvert our own power and our mind and choose to say yes instead of doing what we want to do. It’s a tough habit to break, especially when it is reinforced over a lifetime of yesses.
When you travel solo, it’s a good time to practice learning how to say no. You can, and should, do it nicely, but if you don’t want to do something, you most certainly should say no. You’re on vacation, after all! And this is a great time to practice it.
8. Build Confidence
Confidence is built when you face your weaknesses and fears. It requires practice, practice, practice.
I look back at my early solo holidays and realize that I wasn’t a very good traveler. There are a lot of things that I missed, like watching flamenco in Madrid because I was traveling solo and was too nervous to go out late at night on my own.
Flamenco is usually shown at around midnight, though sometimes you can find earlier shows at 10 p.m. or after. During my first few solo trips, I wouldn’t have imagined going out that late on my own.
Now, with Uber and confidence, I would absolutely do evening things that I want to do, but I’m a bit more smart about how I do them.
9. Confidence Builds Learning
With each solo trip I have been on, I have learned a tremendous amount both about myself and about traveling and trip planning.
I don’t always get it right. (Like not researching about the high seismic activity along the coastline in Chile before a visit, and getting evacuated following an earthquake and tsunami in Valparaiso). I continue to strive to do better and continue to learn.
Every time you push yourself, you further develop your skills, abilities, knowledge, and confidence. When you’re traveling solo, it’s all you so you have plenty of opportunities to test this out.
10. Deepen Your Connection with YOU
I live on my own (with animals!) and I’m used to a lot of “me time.” It can be challenging to travel with other people sometimes as a result, but there can sometimes be a little too much “me time” if you know what I mean. Sometimes it gets a little too quiet.
There’s something about traveling solo that is incredibly liberating and empowering. It’s funny as I usually feel a little reluctant to set out to adventure on my first day when I’m traveling on my own.
I’m not sure why, but it can be a little intimidating to approach a new city/country when you don’t have anyone with you. But once I’m out the door and looking around, it’s a whole different story.
I love that about me. I love how well I can adapt to new places and different situations and how quickly. How I can go away for a couple of weeks and have the time of my life, even when I have no company with me.
It’s liberating and fun and I have learned to get to know myself and my capabilities at a whole new level.
11. Enjoy Being Alone More
Practice, practice, practice, right? The more you do anything, the more comfortable you feel with doing it. I’m an extrovert and have always enjoyed being surrounded by people engaging with them. As an extrovert, that’s what I draw energy from.
Now that I spend more time on my own traveling, I find that I’m more ok with being on my own when I’m not traveling. I no longer have to go out almost every night during the week to feel ok but I can be home with my dogs and be equally content with my life.
There’s something very freeing about not needing others and having that level of dependency. I still very much enjoy my time with friends and other people as well, but it’s more of a want and less of a need.
12. Get Lost More
I know this doesn’t sound like a benefit, but bear with me, and I’ll get there. If you’re like me, you have absolutely no sense of direction. Nilch. Zero.
I actually have started going in the opposite direction of the way I’m inclined to go, and sadly, I’m finding that is often the right way to go! It’s often a good thing when I travel with other people, especially if they are good at navigating.
Here’s why you want to get lost more—you find so many cool things you never would have come across if you just followed the right path. My first solo trip to Paris is a great example of this.
I was wandering around looking for Napoleon’s Tomb, called the Invalides. You can see it from a distance easily as the gold dome stands out, but when you are in the surrounding maze of a neighborhood it’s almost impossible to see.
So, I decided to wander a bit and some of the areas around the structure is really beautiful with quaint old homes. I decided to take a break for lunch and got a bowl of french onion soup, something I have never really liked.
But when in France.. and French food is directly from the gods and everything seems to taste so much better! Even foods you might not otherwise like.
I will always remember that bowl of french onion soup and the kind man in the restaurant who pointed me in the right direction to Invalides after I was done.
13. You’re More Approachable
When you’re traveling on solo holidays, people are more likely to talk with you. You are so much more approachable than when you are with a friend or friends. You have the opportunity to meet people you likely would not have met if you were with someone else.
This can sometimes cut both ways, as there are times you may really want to be left alone and yet people continue to approach you, sometimes since they feel for you that you’re alone.
On the first night of the first trip to Paris, I felt like the pied piper with men following me around in a certain neighborhood in the Latin Quarter (a touristed area).
It was a bit unnerving. The next day I met a really nice young guy from Iran who was also traveling solo, and we paired up for a while before going our separate ways.
A great part of this is that you get to meet more locals. I find tourists are often more likely to approach me in some countries, but in places where the locals are very friendly, like in Colombia or Portugal, you have a great opportunity to meet people from the country you’re visiting and really get to know what it’s like there from a truly local perspective.
Part of the fun of traveling solo is making those connections with people you otherwise would not have met along your journey.
14. Increase Your Bravery
It can be a test of bravery for some people to travel solo. Though I don’t share this with most people, I’ll admit that there are times that I get a little nervous on my solo trips.
One time during the trip that I mentioned earlier is that I am often a little nervous the first morning when I wake up and want to leave to start my day. I take a deep breath and dive into my new adventure, but not without some butterflies.
It is also a good opportunity to test yourself. I mentioned earlier about my fear of heights, well, actually I’m beyond terrified. As a result, I generally avoid doing things that will trigger this fear.
When I was in Germany a few years ago, I really wanted to go to the top of the Zugspitze. It’s the highest mountain in the country towering almost 10,000 feet (around 3,000 meters) over the country.
I rode the Airtram up to the peak, feeling a bit nervous. When we went over one of the towers, the tram shook with a pretty loud thunk and my stomach fell. I grabbed at the bar on the side and crouched down, terrified.
There was a very nice family in the car with me from Saudi Arabia and they saw my distress and gave me reassurance and distracted me. I likely never would have met them otherwise, and I was grateful for the experience.
15.Boost Your Creativity for Solving Problems
One thing I learned about myself through my solo travels is how much of a problem-solver I am. And I’m sure that my traveling has helped to further build this skill.
When you travel on your own, there is no one else to lean on when you run into an issue. Or even when you need to get something done. Do you need to buy train tickets?
Do you need to figure out how to get to your next destination? What if your flight is canceled or your checked bag doesn’t make it to your destination? Should you ask for help or can you figure it out yourself?
All of these things can be stressful and can require you to put your sleuthing hat on to figure out solutions. You can get into some stressful situations and need to figure out the best way of handling whatever issue arises.
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How to Start You Solo Holiday with an Oops
I remember on a solo trip to Europe, I was connecting through Boston on my way there. First of all, I didn’t realize that I had to change terminals, take a bus to the new terminal, and go through security again.
My connection was only 45 minutes so it was incredibly tight. I decided to do what I could to make that flight and asked people if I could move up in the line.
The stars somehow aligned, as that activity usually will flag you for a pat-down at security, but I managed to get through quickly and ran to my gate right before they closed the doors.
On the same trip, I realized when I got to the airport in Phoenix, that I have made a huge error on one of my connections. HUGE. I was connecting in London and didn’t notice that I was flying into Gatwick Airport and flying out of Heathrow. Traffic is notorious and with a three-hour layover, it was tight.
In Phoenix, I researched options including public transportation to get to Heathrow and decided to take an Uber. It was really close. Especially so due to a slow-down from a car accident on our route, but I made it.
16. Restore Your Faith in Human Kindness
I went to Munich, Germany a few years ago, with the goal of seeing Neuschwanstein Castle, a bucket-list adventure for me. I was so excited to go and decided to visit from an area called Garmisch-Paternkirchen, home to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
This trip required taking one bus to another to get to the castle, and I somehow managed to get on the wrong bus. I asked the driver before getting on the bus, but my German is rusty. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding.
The Benefit of my Public Transportation Mistake
Once I realized I wasn’t going in the right direction, I got off in a stunning small town. I then made my way around to figure out how I was going to get the right bus. I checked the bus schedules to no avail and asked a few people.
A kind man who spoke fluent English offered to help me. He said the best way for me would be to take the bus I was on back to my origination point. Then I should get on the correct bus.
He actually offered to take me there and I didn’t want to inconvenience him. I sure appreciated his kind offer and his helping me to figure out the best way to resolve my issue.
Thankfully that was my only detour! And I got to spend close to an hour in a gorgeous small town in Bavaria! I, unfortunately, forgot the name of it but it really was stunning. This helped make my getting lost a little less frustrating.
17. You Learn so Much
You will learn a lot traveling on your own: about yourself, about other people, and about the place you’re visiting. When you travel solo, you have the opportunity to reach out to connect with other people. Or else, you can simply observe them and take it all in.
You also learn a lot about the place(s) you are visiting. You have done all of the research for your trip but you’re doing the bookings and you’re talking with people to get recommendations. You’re also connecting to the location you’re at.
18. Focus on Your Destination
When I travel with other people, I spend a lot of time talking with them and connecting. Sometimes it’s catching up since I last saw him or her, and other times it’s just enjoying the company.
But when you go on a solo holiday, you are much more focused on taking everything in about your destination and the things you are seeing and doing. You aren’t as focused on your travel mate.
Traveling solo makes you much more aware of your surroundings (at least it does for me)! I seem to notice so much more than when I travel with others. Those little details that may go unnoticed because I’m listening to my friend light up and really make a mark.
19. It’ll Raise Eyebrows
This is the conversation that plays over dozens of time after my solo adventures:
“Who did you go with?”
“No one. I went solo on this trip.”
[insert long pause…] “Solo? You didn’t go with anyone else?” [Pause for contemplation.] “Wow, I could never do that. “
It’s funny to me as solo travel seems to be much more accepted in other countries than in the United States. I have come across a lot of Europeans and South Americans traveling on their own in other countries, but I haven’t seen a lot of Americans traveling alone. I hope that shifts as it’s an experience that I highly recommend for everyone.
20. Celebration of Freedom
There is no greater freedom than being on your own in the world. Some people may think it’s strange, but solo vacations are the epitome of freedom in my mind.
I’m doing what I want to do when I want to do it and where I want to do it. Though I enjoy other people, I’m not dependent on others in any way. Ring the bells–that’s my song of freedom!
Ahh.. it’s so liberating to me when you do what you want on your terms. Perhaps that is why I have never married, also on my terms. 🙂
How to Have a Solo Holiday Without Really Traveling Solo
There are many travel companies that offer tours for individuals. There are even some for women only, so you don’t need to travel alone if you don’t want to.
Here are some examples of highly-rated companies:
The Travel Channel also shared a gallery of other travel companies that showcase solo travelers.
Solo holidays are a great adventure with so many benefits. I think everyone should do it at least once, though I really feel like once you do it once, you’ll be hooked. It’s a great adventure and such a fun and rewarding way to travel.
You will never see your destination, or yourself, in the same way again. I have now traveled solo on four continents (North America, Europe, Asia, South America) and I would highly recommend it.
If you’re not feeling quite adventurous enough, then add a day on a vacation with someone else, or even spend an afternoon alone wandering your destination. I certainly didn’t start with two-week solo trips. I worked up to it.
What do you think? Do you travel solo and if you haven’t, would you consider it? Feel free to add a comment with your thoughts.
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