I am really making an effort to not fall into the traps of most blogs, and specifically, most "travel blogs," which I feel are trying very hard to convince you to go where they've gone and do what they've done. Like, quit telling me what to do, blogs, you don't know my life!! Not everything is for everyone!
So probably to my own detriment, I hope to avoid writing posts and "listicles" *shudder* that boil down to sweeping generalizations that take one stance or the other**, because, well, that's bullshit. It's easy to read and it sells well, but things are never so black and white, and personally I'm really grossed out by oversimplifications that give false information in the interest of being digestible and convincing.
So let's cut the crap and do some real talk.
WHY TRAVELING ALONE IS THE BEST
• DOING WHATEVER YOU WANT is the best. Make your own daily schedule, eat what you want, where you want, when you want. No judgement with that third ice cream cone. Skip boring crap you don't care about, sleep as long as you like. Do everything or nothing. Need I say more?
• MEETING PEOPLE is the best. If you intend to Couchsurf, people are way more likely to host you or meet up if you're on your own. Not because they are creepers, but because they are way more sympathetic to someone traveling by themselves, and less likely to feel like a third wheel, which I totally understand. If you're single while abroad, Tinder can also be a great resource for meeting people for whatever (coffee, hookup, hey it's your life) or just chatting and getting local info and recommendations.
• SILENCE can be the best. It isn't always, but if you're used to living in a loud, crowded, crushing metropolis like I am (shoutout NYC) just getting the hell away from people can be super refreshing.
• PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY is the best. It seems like it'd be the worst, but it's actually the best. When shit went wrong, or I wasn't in the best mood, there was no one to blame it on or take it out on, it was all me. I had to fix my own problems and really, truly take responsibility for my own happiness.
• GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF is the best. In line with the prior point, spending a lot of time in a foreign place without your usual crutches (friends, local hangouts, a commonly spoken language) forces you to really examine yourself and your life, and hopefully, become a better, more self-aware person.
• NOT WORRYING ABOUT YOUR DINGUS FRIEND is the best. I'm the sort of person who often puts the happiness of others ahead of my own (because I'm a fucking saint, haven't you noticed??), so sometimes I'll sacrifice what I want to make sure my companion is happy (and loves me oh god why won't you love me!!?). Whether this means curbing my annoying chronic photo-taking, acting energetic when I'm tired as hell, or just becoming stressed that I'm not doing enough to ensure their enjoyment, throwing all that to the wayside can be kind of rad.
WHY TRAVELING ALONE IS THE WORST
• NOT HAVING ANYONE TO WATCH YOUR STUFF is the worst. This is kind of specific, and not that important (#firstworldproblems), so not worth harping on, but don't forget that if you're alone, you'll be dragging all your stuff into that tiny airport bathroom stall with you. Man, dingus friend would really be helpful in this situation. Yet another reason to pack light.
• GOING TO BARS/RESTAURANTS ALONE is the worst. Or can be, depending on what your personality is like, and where in the world you are. Being kind of a shy, introvert in Northern Europe where people are not known for being very outgoing or friendly to strangers, especially foreign ones, had me feeling like an outcast in social settings. But this will force you into that BEST point about getting to know yourself and being accountable for dealing with shit like this.
• GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF can be the worst, if, y'know, you're a terrible person.
• THAT MOMENT WHEN SOMETHING REALLY EXCITING HAPPENS and you're by yourself, can be the worst. Because you're just like "OMG LOOK AT THIS TOTEM POLE THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE OLD GREGG" and all the 65-year old Asian tourists just turn and stare at you and think you're crazy even though they're the ones wearing matching windbreakers and have selfie sticks attached to their selfie sticks. Pff whatever guys.
• FEELING UNSAFE is the worst. Being by yourself in an unfamiliar place can feel kind of scary as it is, but genuinely feeling threatened or unsafe when you're all alone really sucks. Especially if you're female, exercising common sense and caution are important, as well as knowing how to deliver a sharp elbow to someone's throat, y'know, just in case.
• HAVING A BUNCH OF PHOTOS YOU AREN'T IN is kind of the worst. I mean that's hyperbolic to say the least, and this happens to me wherever I go anyway, because I am inevitably the only one amongst my friends who carries a camera, so, time to let go of that selfie shame.
My personal takeaway?
The "bests" easily, easily outweigh the "worsts," which are primarily petty and manageable, and in the end, result in a positive outcome in the form of "character-building," y'know, that thing adults were always trying to get you to do.
What other pros and cons am I forgetting? And is solo travel for you?
**Unless I'm feeling tremendously lazy.