Solo Travel, Is It For You?

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There are many pros and cons of travelling alone. Some people do not feel comfortable in travelling any substantial distance alone. Others have to do a significant amount of travelling alone because of business commitments. There are also people who positively enjoy the freedoms of solo travel. There is good and bad in most things, and single travelers need to consider both the pros and the cons.

Solo Travel, Is It For You?

Things to know before you go on a solo trip

Travelling any distance can be impeded by delays. Even if you are driving, there can be major hold ups that can leave you sitting in stationary traffic for hours. Some people do not mind their own company, so no worries! When there’s no way of knowing how long you will be stuck, though, it can be a lonely way to spend a few hours. This can be particularly poignant if all the cars surrounding you are full of families, couples and groups of friends.

Remember to charge your cell phone before you leave. If you are using public transport, loneliness during unexpected delays may not be an issue because you are in close proximity to your fellow travelers. Take the time to look at the scenery, even if you are in a city center. You may not have noticed before the range of architecture on your daily route to work. Travelling alone can allow your thoughts to escape without interruption.

Are you really alone?

The close proximity of other travelers can bring a host of problems. You have no say over the personal hygiene habits of the individual in the seat next to you. Sometimes it may be possible to change seats, but not always. You may find yourself sitting next to someone who falls asleep within a few minutes of the journey starting and snores through the whole trip.  This may make it impossible for you to sleep or even get out of your own seat without feeling bad about waking them up first.

Alternatively you may have someone who talks incessantly, either through nervousness or just a general love of their own voice. When there is no obvious means of escape, these minor irritations can quickly take on plague proportions.  The only refuge may be the bathroom!

What about your luggage?

Practicalities of modern travel mean that you cannot leave your luggage unattended anywhere for fear of having it removed and possibly destroyed. For the single traveler, this can cause problems. You have 2 alternatives here: the first is to drag all your belongings with you into the rest rooms and hope that the cubicle door will close with you and your bags inside (and that you can squeeze the door open again afterwards). Alternatively you can approach a suitably safe-looking person and ask that they keep an eye on your things for a minute.

Neither of these options is ideal. The only real solution is to travel with the minimum amount of bags you can get away with. Travelling by yourself can also be a disadvantage if some or all of your luggage goes missing; there is no one to borrow a change of clothes from until you can buy some replacements, and no one to commiserate with you.

Advantages of solo travel

Some people operate better by themselves. For some, the journey is smoother if they do not have to worry about anyone else. If you are hoping to get an upgraded seat on a plane, it is more likely that one will be available. Being by yourself also cuts out the amount of complaining that you are subjected to if things are delayed, lost or broken in transit. You do not feel obliged to stay with a person who is having difficulty with their passport or other documents, or help them find a bathroom or gluten free food option.

The freedoms of travelling alone far outweigh the restrictions. Lone travelers do not have to compromise over the sights they wish to see.  Or the route they take to see them. Detours can turn into wonderful opportunities to make new friends. The single traveler goes to bed when they are tired and not when someone else is.

Will you truly be alone?

While many couples on holiday make friends with other couples for the duration of their stay, lone travelers often meet many more and varied people.

Being on your own and being lost, means you have to find a local to ask directions of. Those instances can also lead to finding out gems of information that you would never have known otherwise. Like a great place to eat or the fact that a certain road is closed on Thursdays. These are invaluable nuggets of information easily gleaned by a lone traveler.

Travelling on your own can also mean that you take in more of your surroundings than couples and groups do. You have time to sit quietly and just observe the landscape and the people going about their daily business. While individuals may end up paying more for hotel rooms than couples do, the flexibility to change rooms or even hotels is greater when you are on your own.

All in all, the advantages of being a lone traveler are great.  The disadvantages are not such that they should stop you from experiencing it.  With a little pre-planning and safety precautions, solo travel can be a fantastic option for your future journeys!

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Tags: Boomers, inspire, midlife, travel plans, travel tips, wanderlust

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Barb Webb is a sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky. When she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s following the road less traveled, writing about country living and artisan culture. Travel specialties are: Agritourism and Second Season of Life (over 50) Adventures.
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