I’m going to talk about the good parts of travelling solo, but before I get into that I’ll say it isn’t always easy.
I’ve long prided myself on my ability to travel independently, either plan a route or sometimes just land somewhere and figure things out and always find some fun on the road. But up until this year, my travelling was mostly intermittent- a few days, weeks, a month or so here or there before boomeranging home to recharge and refresh and go back out to do it all over again.
This year is different, I’ve been on the road for almost three months continuously now. What was supposed to be my base of operations, Madrid, went into the red zone soon after I departed and so I can’t come home easily for that all essential refresh and for my husband to put me back together again. Essentially, I’ve had to start looking after myself – yes I know only took 20 odd years but I’m finally learning how to do this independently.
I love travelling with people, I am a social creature after all and there is something awesome about sharing travel adventures with someone and making memories together. But there are definitely some upsides to travelling solo, here are six good things about traveling solo
1. It’s cheaper
Travelling solo is cheaper than travelling together and not just half as cheap, it’s a lot cheaper. It’s not just double the flights, meals etc. I spend a lot less per day travelling solo.
When travelling with people you tend to build your day around meals, where are we going to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. You end up eating and drinking way more than you would if you were at home.
When travelling solo, I’m pretty low maintenance- can easily survive on yoghurts, fruit, feta, hummus and halloumi. I have per diem I budget for each week and generally save that up to spend in nice bars.
2. Easier to work on the move
I’m often working while travelling – I don’t have to feel bad about spending hours in front of a laptop, or working through the night if there isn’t someone waiting around to play.
I can also plan my work day around my client’s needs depending on their time zone and my creativity peak (which is often when the sun goes down) without fear of ruining anyone’s day or plans.
3. You can do whatever you feel like, no apologies
Kind of linked together the above. Working on the move and in different time zones requires a good degree of flex. You spend a lot less time apologising for what you have to do if there is no one to apologise to.
Also I can be totally selfish about what I do do when I have some downtime without having to consider if my travelling companion is going to enjoy it. Like wander around an art gallery, without having to explain if something is art or not, I can just soak it up and see if it makes me feel anything and what that may be.
You can spend big without spending big when it’s just you. If I fancy that super fancy glass of wine, I’ll do without something else – take lunch and dinner at home and go spend big on the booze. There is a theme here…
4. You pay more attention
Travelling solo means you need to be more conscious of your surroundings to stay safe. But that also means you pay more attention to what’s going on around you.
When you’re not lost in conversation you really see things, smell things and soak up what’s going on. I do love people watching. Just the other day I walked through the park in Athens and was struck with the scent of the blossom, really observed the people around me and took in the sights and sounds in a way I probably wouldn’t if i wasn’t solo.
5. You learn more about yourself
You understand more about what you like, the rhythm that works best for you, what makes you happy, what makes you sad. What you need to keep your spirits up, how your brain works best. I’ve learnt when I’m more productive, more creative, when I just need to rest. That I absolutely need space – preferably outdoor space, I don’t like being cooped up. I like being warm. And I feel so much better when I make time to run and do yoga and generally take care of myself. I’ve started devouring books again and forgot how much I enjoy reading.
6. Embrace impromptu fun
You can embrace serendipity. Travelling with a group or even one other requires all sorts of considerations and consensus. Where to go, when, what time to depart, where to eat, what to do with the precious down time you have.
With groups you can’t just rock up somewhere easily but usually you can sneak a seat anywhere if there’s just one of you. You can just wander and follow your nose, get a little lost, find something unexpected and allow space for serendipity.
But what is best, solo travels or more social adventures?
That said. I think when travelling for work I prefer to travel solo, when travelling for fun, it’s always nice to have someone to share things with or someone to meet up with on the road for a day or two.
I’ll probably do a mix of both over the next few months. I have commandeered a few travelling pals for short weekend adventures over the next month as I’m not getting back home to Madrid this year and five months solo is a bit much even for me.