Imagine you are on the bus from Salta, a city in North Argentina, to Tilcara, a beautiful indigenous village near the border with Bolivia.
You got on the bus around 3 PM, and were assured you will arrive at Tilcara before sunset. But now it is starting to get dark and you’re still on the bus, more than an hour away from your destination.
You don’t like arriving to a new city or village at night, and rightfully so; as you get off the bus in Tilcara it is already pitch black and there are no street lights. You need to find the hostel you planned to spend the night in, but guess what – there are no street signs either.
Adventure? Unnecessary risk-taking?
That night I ended up finding the hostel, don’t even remember how… but what I do remember is the chilling feeling on the bus as I realized I’ll be arriving after dark; and the amazing stay at that hostel once I found it. I ended up staying in Tilcara for a few days.
Does the thought of travelling alone scare you, or does my story make you want to buy a flight ticket?
For me, relieving the Tilcara story brings up a lot of emotions. I started traveling alone a few years ago and got hopelessly addicted. Solo traveling has a special thrill; it makes you feel very much alive. One moment you have no idea where you’re going to stay for the night, the next moment it’s all sorted out (hopefully). And there are a lot of other benefits too.
The benefits of solo travel
Connect with yourself. With the relative silence that comes when you travel alone, comes a lot of insight. You can come to realize things about your life that you are unable to see during your day-to-day life. Disconnected from your routine, you get glimpses of clarity and perspective.
Spiritual growth often comes when you temporarily disconnect from your habitual environment. Traveling alone helps achieve this disconnection, since when you’re traveling with a friend from home your habitual environment is present with you.
Connect with your instincts. For better or worse, when you travel by yourself you have to be more alert. You have to be more “present” in situations you encounter. This increased alertness takes a lot of energy, but brings out the best in you and increases your confidence. You get over daily challenges and learn to see yourself as a person who can cope with anything.
Meet new people. When you travel with a friend, unless the two of you are extremely social, you often meet much less people than when traveling alone. To the solo traveller, every ride on the bus is a chance to meet new people and start a conversation.
Learn a new language. When traveling with your friends from home, you are likely to be speaking to them in your home tongue all day. Travel alone, and you’ll find yourself forced to speak in a new language with the locals.
Do whatever you want. Traveling in a group and have to decide where to go for dinner? Trying to decide between two hostels and can’t reach consensus? Met this gorgeous guy / girl and want to stay in town for an extra night, but your friend is anxious to go to the next destination?
Guess what. When you’re traveling by yourself, you, and only you, make the decisions. You can do whatever you want. Go for your favorite food. Choose the hostel you like. Stay with the guy you met for an extra night. Heck, stay with him for an extra week if you want.
Improve your social skills. Social skills are important; they allow you to connect with people for social, romantic, and business purposes. Nothing improves your social skills more than solo traveling– you get to a new place by yourself and “have to” make friends. Over time, you get comfortable initiating conversation, reaching out to people, and forming new groups. The social aspect of solo traveling is perhaps the most rewarding (and most challenging) of all. I am planning to upload a separate post with tips on how to ace the social game when traveling alone.
Get unlimited travel options. Once you get used to the idea of solo traveling, you can travel on the dates that work for you, the destination that interests you, with zero dependence on the availability and interests of others.
So… why travel alone?
Because it is fun. Because it is an adventure. Because you are guaranteed to experience personal growth. And simply… why not?
PS- you know you can use all of the images I post for free as long as you link back to my site 🙂