Whether it’s a single journey or an extended road trip, “flying solo” unlocks features that simply aren’t available with a companion or group in tow. Granted, not everyone would initially embrace the idea of traveling independently, but it can be curiously addictive once tried. After all, what is more romantic or inspiring than the lone wanderer or solitary nomad? By contrast, how many people truly find themselves on spring break? Lone travel allows you to travel to a new destination with a fresh perspective.
How Solo Travel Boosts Creativity
In travel as in life, the pressure can be extreme to share every moment, thought and reaction. Admittedly, companionship is vital in the long-term for nurturing our self-esteem, confidence and even immune system. However, striking out alone on a trip isn’t the same as being lonely. Without the need to seek approval, show a reaction or communicate judgment, the solo traveler can approach their destination in a mindful, spontaneous way. That mindset can spur creativity through the need to take ownership for each decision, whether it’s which fork in the road to take or how to present yourself to strangers.
Meeting People Is Easier Than You Think
Traveling in a group is a great way to conquer new destinations, but it can be a serious barrier to meeting new people, especially locals. From the outside, even a couple traveling together can send out “Do Not Disturb” signals. When you’re on your own in a strange location, however, you’ll trigger age-old conventions of hospitality, particularly in cultures where lone travelers are welcomed without question as a matter of course. Independence and individuality are often taken for granted in Western culture, but they can be your greatest resource when exploring cultures where community life is the norm.
Flying Solo Unleashes ‘Me Time’
By traveling alone, you give yourself a blank page to fill and the time to do so. That means you’re liberated to read, write, blog, take photos and communicate. The chances are, the location won’t be the only thing you discover. You’ll also get to know yourself more, from your strengths to your weaknesses. As Socrates taught: “Know Thyself.” That requires a clear head, no distractions and plenty of solitude.
A Change of Pace
If you’ve ever taken a group tour, you’ll know that the benefits of companionship are tempered by a relentless need to meet schedules, cater for multiple needs and satisfy the group as a whole. None of these apply when you fly solo. You can listen to your body if it aches, feed your imagination if the mood takes you, pamper yourself and generally travel at a pace that maximizes the experience. Similarly, if you choose to tear up the itinerary and strike out in a new direction, you can do so without compromise or discussion.
Tips for Traveling Alone
The above comes with a caveat. From a safety perspective, it’s even more important to share your itinerary with someone back home and to check in regularly when you’re traveling solo. Carry your identification and an emergency contact number in an easy-to-find place, so that someone can look after your interests should you become seriously ill. From a financial standpoint, make sure you’re not penalized for traveling solo. Some companies, such as cruise lines and high-end hotels, will charge you extra for traveling alone, so use price-comparison apps to find those that cater for solo travelers.
Creativity is often a solo journey, even if collaboration may occur at points along the way. Likewise, a solo journey can be a source of creativity. It forces the mind to work harder and the senses to sharpen. It liberates the traveler from the need to process and communicate every reaction before the time is appropriate. Most importantly of all, perhaps, it’s never been easier to try.
Written by Nick Marshall for Out East.
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