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readers' submissions


Go It Alone: Eight Things that Make Traveling Solo Awesome

By Frank Johnson

July 24, 2009 

Traveling by yourself has its disadvantages. You always pay more for lodging and transportation, you have to take long train rides with no one to talk to and there’s no one around to help if you get in serious trouble. All these thoughts and more were on my mind as I prepared for a recent solo trip that I had initially planned with company. However, once I got out on the road I discovered that my unaccompanied expedition was the best thing I could have done. Here’s eight reasons why:

  1. Check, Please 
     
    Although not exactly a huge plus for the budget traveler, there’s a distinct benefit in being a party of one when you show up at classy dining establishments. Breeze past those large crowds of seven waiting 45 minutes for a table and get immediate seating. Enjoy food that comes out hot and fresh because your server isn’t waiting for other orders to finish. You can even drink that fruity cocktail you always wanted to try but were too embarrassed to order with friends around.
  1. All the Time in the World 
     
    Feel like blazing a blistering trail through the countryside or taking a more relaxed meandering? As a solo explorer, you can decide exactly how much you want to see and how often you want to see it. This is particularly ideal for those who like to feel their way along as it alleviates the stress of having to rush from place to place. It also means you can edit your itinerary to focus primarily on the kind of sites and activities you want to see.

    Moreover, it’s a true fact of this world that different people like different things. Maybe you actually really enjoy museums but your girlfriend gets drowsy the minute she hears the phrase “audio tour.” When making your way by yourself, you can avoid laborious compromises to ensure that all the members of a group remain happy and go straight for the stuff that interests you.  

  1. No Drama 
     
    Sometimes you discover that the friends you got along so well with back home actually are a great annoyance on the road. Nothing sours a trip like a friendship suddenly gone south. By making your trek alone, you’re guaranteed to keep your trip drama free and be able to enjoy things as they come. 
  1. Your Own Bedroom 
     
    For the unattached lady or fella’ out on the traveler’s trail, romantic opportunities often arise. Make the most of these situations by inviting your new-found lover back to the privacy of your pad. With no roommates to kick out and no friends to keep count, you can enjoy intimate company guilt-free.
  1. On the Fly 
     
    As a sans pals vagabond, you can swap various travel plans in and out at a moment’s notice. Avoid the bureaucratic tangles of group decision making and follow whatever whim or fancy happens to enter your head. Did you suddenly just realize that your dream is to become a world-class Muay Thai champion? Ditch your previous plans to undertake a week’s training without hearing a single complaint.
  1. Power Nap 
     
    For some, being in constant company with others can become wearisome. Pick a rainy day and cozy up with a book and a cup of coffee for a day of relaxation. Grabbing a bit of solitude is easy for the solitary traveler and can help keep your energy level high.  
     
    Sometimes doing a little less for one day can let you do a lot more the next two.
  1. A Whole New You 
     
    Undertaking a journey of self-discovery? Looking to reinvent your image or find a new scene? Leave behind your old loves and dear friends and find out what really makes you, you. As a solo soul out on the road, you can see who you are without the trappings of routine and daily habits to get in the way. From simple restyling like new hairdos, accents and clothes to more complex soul searching, you’ll have the freedom to discover what’s there to find, both inside and out.
  1. The People You’ll Meet 
     
    When traveling alone, you’re often forced to make friends with anyone and everyone. There’s no group of old pals to fall back in to a bubble with. The advantage of this is that you find yourself having conversations that can be interesting, illuminating and sometimes downright crazy. Challenge yourself and broaden your horizons by exposing yourself to situations and ideas you didn’t know existed. Most fellow travelers or friendly locals are also eager to make new friends, so the solo experience is a great way to build confidence for the shy and insecure.  
     
    Go it alone and you’ll find out that often the best part of traveling isn’t the places you go, but the people you meet.

See the author's website here: http://relativepragmatism.wordpress.com/


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