Being single and traveling alone can bring so much value to your life.
Sure, exploring the world with someone will give you unforgettable memories. But traveling when you are single will help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and how far you are ready to go.
If you are unsure whether you should get that stamp in your passport, here are 10 things being single and traveling alone teaches you, that might help you decide.
1) You will learn to overcome your fears
Everything that could go wrong on my first solo trip went wrong.
A friend invited me to visit her in Costa Rica, so I booked a flight a few months in advance.
A few days before the trip, she called and said she got a new job and had to move to another country. But I decided to take that flight anyway.
My irrational fear of flying became worse when I realized it was a 12-hour trip with two stops – in Paris and Panama – and no ground under my feet.
What could possibly go wrong, I thought to myself. It was just a warm-up.
We landed in Panama City with a 40-minute delay. I had to run to catch the next flight to Costa Rica. Even though it seemed the nightmare was over, it had just started when I found out my baggage had only been checked in till Panama.
I was all alone in a foreign country, stuck between my second and the final stop. And then, it just hit me – I was trying so hard to control things that were entirely out of my hands.
I was shaking when the ground staff confirmed my flight had taken off without me. While I was trying to hold back my tears, they explained that it was not my fault and issued a new ticket.
The situations I just described can happen to you on every trip, and that is perfectly fine. Facing your fears doesn’t mean you will die, neither did I. You will just arrive at your destination a bit later.
However, you might save a good deal of energy if you stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
2) Alone time will mean the world
Being single taught me how to appreciate my alone time and make good use of it.
It was frightening at first, but I discovered how being single and traveling alone boosted my self-esteem. I wish I had started earlier.
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Go offline when you need to reset without justifying yourself. On this trip, and every trip you decide to take alone, it’s all about you. Others will just have to accept that you come first.
You are not living in purgatory if you are single at the moment. Instead, use that time to work on yourself, do things you like, or maybe you didn’t even know you like.
Alone time is the only time you will be able to really listen to your inner voice without being influenced by your partner, friends, or family.
Sure, we all want to love and be loved, but first, let’s learn how to love ourselves properly. Trust me, it is the most challenging lesson you will ever have to learn.
This was a tough one for me.
I have always admired independent people. Not even after years of traveling alone did I manage to master this lesson completely.
Eating out, making friends, or even doing the boring bureaucratic stuff like filling out papers makes you feel like you’re the boss.
The unpleasant part of my independence lesson was when I got sick in Spain two years ago. I was all alone, and I had to find a doctor as soon as possible. Everything went well thanks to my travel insurance (don’t go anywhere without it!).
However, what really made me feel powerful and good about myself was the ability to take care of everything, all by myself.
In moments like this, I hated being single. I was mentally challenged by the fact that there was no one I could turn to and no one to hold me. But it was not the end of the world.
4) Making friends has never been easier
I will never forget my trip to Granada, Andalusia.
I just got fired from a job that nearly got me sick. Without overthinking my next step, I bought a ticket to Spain and hoped for the best.
The decision to travel through Andalusia was the best one I could have made. In the first hostel in Cordoba, I heard a girl saying, “No one in this hostel wants to hang out. What is wrong with people?”
The alarm in my head went off! I wanted to make some friends desperately, and I did!
Traveling alone doesn’t need to feel lonely. Single people that travel alone are looking for the same things as you do.
As you get to know them better, you will often find out that they probably share the same interest in many things. Don’t be surprised if those similarities include fears, doubts, and other things you are not particularly proud of.
It is so easy to make friends with fellow travelers when you are single. There are no armors and overthinking about what you’d say, no others to weigh you down.
It’s as simple as it gets.
However, when you travel with your partner, you don’t want to hang out with other people as much as you’d want if you were single. Your partner might not like them, and that can put a lot of pressure on you.
On the other hand, what if you happen to like someone and would want to ask them out? Who says you won’t find the love of your life traveling solo?
5) You’ll start appreciating things you were taking for granted
Being single and traveling alone is not always as easy as it seems.
It takes courage to go on a trip by yourself. People will either call you brave or crazy, and they will probably be right.
Yes, we all wanted to be young and wild at some point in our lives. That’s fine but bear in mind that there will be certain things you’ll be missing on your trip:
- Security: remember that not all countries are safe. Before going on a trip alone, make sure you do a little research about the place you’re visiting. Furthermore, I recommend you inform your family about the address where you’ll be staying.
- Travel/Health insurance: this is a must when traveling solo. Fortunately, I never got to use my insurance, except that one time in Spain when I got pretty sick. It’s not that I am a prophet of doom, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
- Comfy bed: I cannot decide which one I missed more on my trips – my pillow or my mattress. When you’re sleeping in the most uncomfortable beds, you start appreciating your own more. The same goes for (shared) bathrooms and hostel food.
- Clean clothes: if you are not a backpacker, you’ll be fine. However, if you are, I suggest you google local laundry services. A funny thing happened to me in Granada. I came to Spain in spring planning to stay for three months, but all I had was winter clothes. It was too hot, so I ended up buying summer t-shirts and looking for laundry places everywhere.
- Bad Internet connection: don’t expect a good connection everywhere you go. Certainly not on islands and in villages, so you might as well start arming yourself with patience because that Instagram reels will have to wait.
- Homesick: on longer trips, you will start missing your dearest people. You won’t be able to talk to them all the time, especially if you are in a different time zone. But don’t worry, you’ll be just fine without them, and once you’re back, you will have some great stories to share.
- A partner: the mere fact you cannot share some of the greatest moments on your trip with someone you love can make you feel miserable at moments. But don’t despair; you will have so much to tell them when the right person comes along.
6) You will learn to push past your limits
There is this massive limestone rock in Calpe, Spain, very popular among tourists. Every summer, many people decide to climb this little mountain, and they even bring their kids.
Three years ago, I went to Calpe with a friend and wanted to climb el Peñón. It was pretty dangerous to climb that big pile of stones with minimum security. But it was not impossible; it just required caution.
After we climbed to the first viewpoint, she told me, “We cannot go any further, the trail is dangerous, and it’s only for the expert climbers, not us.” I believed her, so we went back.
I visited the same place this year with another friend, and she was thrilled by the massive rock. She immediately said, “We can climb this thing, c’mon!” but I hesitated.
Still, I followed her, trying not to look down. There was nothing but a precipice and the Mediterranean sea at the bottom.
The ascend took an hour and a half. At times, I thought of getting back, but my internal strength wouldn’t let me quit. When we reached the peak, I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
The point is, only you know your limits, and only you can test them.
It’s great to have someone by your side to encourage you to do crazy things like this when you believe you can’t. But sometimes, you need to learn to be your own partner.
7) Goodbye, excuses!
When you travel solo, no reason is good enough because no one cares for it. The decisions that you make are solely on you.
Reasons such as not having enough time, money, or anyone to travel with, the language barrier, and so many other excuses are red flags you should deal with right away. No one says you should grab your suitcase and just go.
What you can do instead is to put all your excuses on a piece of paper and figure out where they come from. If you cannot find any logical explanation, your reasons just won’t cut it.
The other most common excuses not to travel:
- Buying a car: your vehicle is not going anywhere, and the money you’ve saved to travel won’t help you pay it off sooner either. Give yourself a little break and enjoy!
- Pets: your cat cannot live without you, so you have to stay home. You probably have friends who could come over and look after your kitty. Also, I’ve seen many people traveling with their pets without any problem, so why look for one, right?
- Security: “Are you sure they won’t rob you there?”. How many times did I hear this one? If you are a beginner in solo travels, start with closer and safer places.
- Fear of flying: been there! But did you know it’s one of the safest means of transportation? Although I’ve always loved planes (from afar), the very thought of flying was giving me the creeps. The fear was irrational, and I overcame it by accepting it and being practical about it: I learned to enjoy it.
- Your partner: “I always travel with my girlfriend/boyfriend. If they don’t go, I don’t go”. Well, that’s too bad for you! Your partner (or you) should understand that the world won’t end if one of you two is gone for a few weeks. It might actually be good for your relationship.
These excuses might do if you are in a committed relationship (although I can’t justify them then either). You might say being in a relationship makes things more practical. But being single makes them a whole lot easier.
Remember: no matter what excuse you make, know that the comfort zone is a deceptive loophole that will make you believe you’re fine right where you are, even though deep down you know that’s far from true.
8) Lesson: surrender
I started traveling alone because I desperately needed a change. I’m not saying it was easy; it was tough, even frustrating, most of the time.
My trip to Georgia can attest to that. I was in a town called Kutaisi, in a hostel where no one spoke any English and had no wi-fi.
I could barely explain to a taxi driver, who had previously brought me to the hostel, that I wanted him to pick me up at 3 am to go to the airport. I had no idea if he understood me, so I could just wait.
With only 50 euros in my wallet with no exchange office nearby, I went outside to look for an ATM to get some laris instead (Georgian money) and a place to eat.
It was raining cats and dogs without a living soul on the streets.
I finally found an ATM, withdrew some money, and walked into a store to buy some snacks.
However, all I had were high note bills that they wouldn’t accept. I started crying, explaining it was all the money I had.
They felt sorry for me and eventually gave me the change. Luckily, the taxi driver also showed up.
You will probably experience this kind of uncertainty more than once. But the feeling of freedom inside your chest will sound like a melody you once knew. It’ll make you alive again.
9) Wealth is not having money
Money can’t buy everything, and that’s a fact.
The experience you get to live while being single and traveling alone is priceless. You probably won’t remember that fancy 5-star hotel in 10 years, but you will most definitely remember the food you tried for the first time or visited Machu Picchu.
In my travels, I’ve learned that people who have less money or generally don’t care much about it are better friends. They are easier to hang out with and have a lot more to offer from the human perspective.
There was a Spanish girl and an Argentinian couple I recently met in Spain. Each of us rented a room in an apartment that only looked good in the photo. Along with the noisy neighbors, the place was falling apart.
We became friends, and I felt we were in this together. Everything was easier having them around. They became my Spanish family and friends for life.
10) Being single and traveling alone is the key to freedom
Once you start traveling alone, get ready to feel embarrassed more than once.
Your ego will be all over the place, but soon you’ll realize that you are not an exception.
Supermarkets are the best places to practice overcoming shame. I thought I would die at the cash register when I tried to pay in cents (the receipt was a little over two euros).
The cashier and I spent nearly 10 minutes counting cent by cent and listening to complaints in the back every now and again.
One can think, “Isn’t it better to have someone by your side and avoid the awkward moment?” Not really.
I firmly believe there are some unpleasant moments we have to expose ourselves to. Yes, it will tear your guts out of the embarrassment because there will be moments you wish the ground would open.
But, guess what? It will set you free.
Because, five years from now, you will laugh so hard at all your adventures, and what’s even better, you will learn to be okay with being yourself.
Is traveling alone worth it?
Every journey we take is about how we see ourselves and how we reflect it on the world.
Exploring what’s out there physically, we discover what is inside of us mentally and emotionally. It is, by far, one of the greatest reasons we travel.
Getting to know locals and foreigners, sharing your meals, and making memories with them creates an invisible unbreakable bond between you for good.
The more you travel, the more you will want that bond to grow in all possible directions.
But if you travel while you’re single, seize that period of your life to be kinder, more humble, to be yourself.
And don’t be afraid of change. Be afraid of staying the same.