A question was posted recently to the sub-reddit r/travel that asked the simple question: Is the prospect of loneliness enough to deter you from travelling solo? It’s an interesting question, and one I’ve heard before in several different iterations. As a person who often travels alone for pleasure, let me add my own two cents.
Traveling alone, done well, is absolutely worth it, and outweighs any moments of loneliness that may occur. The key phrase here, of course, is “done well”, for which I will get to in a minute. But first let me tell you how I arrived at traveling solo.
I used to believe that traveling with company would be the only way to travel. The problem I soon found was that my desire to travel would be complicated by both the desire and the schedule of the friends or family who said that they wished to go on these journeys with me.
It was then that I learned a valuable lesson – If I wanted to travel, all I needed to do was save enough money, and then take that first step. In the past. when I wanted to travel with others, I needed to save enough money, and then wait for the other people to save enough money, and for them to commit to taking that first step. When traveling with others, my desire to see the world is at the mercy of the slowest, least motivated person in the group.
My solution? I stopped waiting on the slowest, least motivated person in the group. This often meant that I end up going to places alone. So, what does a solo travel plan, done well, look like? Ideally, a popular suggestion is to engage a local guide who pretty much knows the best things to do like visiting top attractions in Thailand.
For one, the greatest aspect of traveling alone is that you can make your trip all about you. For example, I love museums, and have no problem in spending as much time as I need to explore every room of one, and then head to an altogether different museum and do it again, either in the same day or the next. This bores some of my friends to tears. But in traveling alone, I get to indulge in this aspect of myself. So, rule one for traveling alone? Make a list of things you have always wanted to do on a trip and get them done.
One point, maps are totally useless in most parts of town. You need to yourself a Satellite Navigator and take that with you on your travels. These electronic devices don’t have to be expensive, but they will get you to right part of town and stop you getting lost. Generally the best are Garmin’s or TomTom’s as they have been tried and tested over years.
Rule two? Do them.
It’s really that simple. Give yourself one or two events and/or tasks a day to attend and/or accomplish(depending upon how you are feeling), and then do them. There are common sense rules that come along with rules one and two. Be safe. Be adaptable.
Don’t be disappointed if you can’t get to everything. Recognize that your body can only do so much in any given day. But traveling solo , to me, is the ability to indulge in the best parts of you without having to account to anyone else’s desire. I have found that if I accomplish two things a day in a foreign city, I sleep easy, and often have precious memories for years afterwards.
If you do these rules, loneliness will likely be very minimal.