My first official solo trip was to Los Angeles in 2011. I was 22 years old and in need of a vacation (the last vacation I had before that was in 2008). The trip was organized by Contiki, a travel company aimed at youth under the age of 30. So I went on a 5 day trip to a place I'd never been to with complete strangers, and it was one of the best trips I've had to date. I met people from around the world and still keep in touch with a couple of them.
I've heard a lot of negative things said about solo trips, such as "It'll be so lonely for you", "It's dangerous for young women to travel alone", "It won't be fun without other people", and so on. While all these may be true to some degree, the rewarding experience you get from travelling solo far outweighs the negative aspects...and here are 5 reasons why:
1. YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE
I cannot stress how valuable the experience of meeting new people is, especially those from other countries. When you travel alone, you are forced to interact with people you would not have talked to if you were travelling with family or friends. Meeting new people is such a rewarding experience as they tend to have incredible stories to share and new things to teach you. It's also a great way to find a travel buddy, which reduces the loneliness factor.
2. YOU'RE IN CHARGE OF YOUR ITINERARY
Travelling on someone else's itinerary or trying to accommodate someone else's interest is something I dislike a lot. This is not always the case though, as I have travelled with friends who had similar interests to mine. But if I am in a city for a limited time, I want to do things that I like. So if you have ever been on a trip with other people and did something you didn't want to, then travelling solo is perfect for you. You explore what you want, when you want.
3. IT BOOSTS YOUR CONFIDENCE
When you travel alone, you are forced out of your comfort zone. You learn to rely on yourself. Whether it's getting lost trying to find your way back to your hostel or dining alone, you learn to depend on you and be independent. By the time you get back home, you will be more confident with yourself and ready for whatever the universe throws your way.
4. GET THROUGH YOUR BUCKET LIST
I realized that as I grew older my friends were becoming less available to hang out with me as they became more busy with their lives. I used to not do things because no one was available, so I missed out on certain experiences. Likewise, if you keep waiting for someone to be ready to travel with you, it will never happen. Never. So get out there and start crossing things off your bucket list. Start with something small and maybe close to home if you aren't ready to be too adventurous.
5. FIND YOURSELF AND GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
This is really important. On my first solo trip to L.A., I was nervous and a bit scared. Especially the first day I got there, and I hadn't met any of the other travellers from the tour group. I had a few hours to kill before everyone met up, so I forced myself to take a walk and explore the area close to the hotel, instead of sitting in my hotel room. When you travel alone, you get out of your comfort zone and you learn things about yourself that you would have otherwise not learned of. I also find travelling alone to be a healing experience. Every time I have done a solo trip, I learn more about the person I am and become more confident in myself.