Timid people of all age groups avoid taking vacations alone for a variety of reasons, but their main concern is for their safety.
Others worry they will become lonely if no one talks to them, or fear that it will be too expensive because of single supplements and, among seniors, a primary concern is that they are too old to travel solo.
Travel powerhouse Lonely Planet will have none of those excuses. The publisher recently produced a 155-page guide, The Solo Travel Handbook, which lists “practical tips and inspiration for a safe, fun and fearless trip”.
The guide also waxes lyrical about the amazing things solo travellers find out about themselves. Here are nine of those discoveries.
You learn what kind of traveller you are.
By not having to fit in with the schedule of companions, solo journeymen and women quickly discover what style of travelling suits them best. Whether it’s getting around at a fast pace or taking things slowly and relishing the moments.
You learn to be more open-minded.
Without a buddy to back you up, you may find that any pre-existing assumptions you had about different cultures are challenged. You could be surprised at how quickly you review your former beliefs.
You learn to trust your intuition.
Going it alone means you don’t have someone to help you with navigating. That means when you can’t decide between left or right, you will follow your gut instinct. While this may not get you to the destination, at least you have picked up the courage to trust your intuition.
You learn what is important in life.
As you are exposed to new sensations you may begin to question your lifestyle back home and wonder if the drivers you employ to maintain it are worthwhile.
You learn to live with less.
You can’t take the wardrobe or bathroom vanity cupboard with you when you travel, so you learn to live with less. Back home, you will hopefully realise that if you don’t rush out and renew your fashion rack every season or spend an hour grooming before you go out, the world will not end.
You learn to be comfortable being alone.
If you are not used to eating alone, the first few times it might feel awkward. But before long you will become accustomed to it. Heck, you may even yearn for some solitude if you become caught up in a group environment.
You learn what your limits are.
The less familiar the activities you undertake on your singular vacation the more you may realise just how flexible you are – or not. Ever thought you could cope with a three-day wilderness trek that meant going without a shower for that long? Try it and find out if you can break out of your well-worn habits.
You learn to take responsibility.
When things go wrong – you miss a connecting flight, lose your credit card, forget to book accommodation well in advance during the high season – you have no one to blame but yourself. You have discovered taking responsibility for your own oversights, accepting it and moving on with no grudges.
You learn there is room in your life for more friends.
Before long, you will realise that making friends in your solo travels is easy. If someone tries to strike up a conversation with you, lend him or her your ear. You just may be delighted to discover that you have heaps in common. Better still, when the holiday is over, you might even keep in touch.
The Solo Travel Handbook RRP $29.99
Have you ever had the courage to travel alone? If so, would you do it again? What discoveries did you make about yourself?