How solo travel is good for your well being

By Trevor McDonald 

Have you ever had a daydream of one day packing up a carry-on and heading to a faraway land – by yourself?

For most people, this remains a dream. They never actually pack up that bag and get on the airplane.

But for those who actually do it, it's a life-changing experience.

Naturally, there are dangers. There are pros and cons to traveling alone. But for most people, the pros outweigh the cons. And you can learn to mitigate the cons in order to have a safe and memorable trip

Here are a few ways that solo travel is good for your well being.

Massive amounts of empowerment

Let’s face it. Fear is the reason most people don’t pack up that bag and board the aircraft. No matter how independent or extroverted you may be, it’s scary to travel alone – especially for the first time.

But oftentimes, fear is a great motivator. If you can accomplish something that seems like it's almost an impossible thought, just imagine how you’ll feel.

And it’s not even just about the act of traveling alone, although that is empowering. It’s about all the little things you do while you’re there. Join a group hike, go on a sightseeing tour, see a show, or even just go to dinner by yourself. All of these acts can help you realize that all you truly need is within you.

Connections you won’t find at home

When you’re traveling alone, you can’t help but meet people. You’ll stop to ask for directions or start chatting with a friendly person at a café. You’ll naturally gravitate toward other people who are flying solo like you are. You may even find groups of friends that invite you to join them for an excursion.

The possibilities are endless. But the friends you meet along the way can become lifelong connections that expand your network and open your mind to new cultures.

Naturally, you’ll have to exercise some level of caution and common sense when meeting new people, especially when you’re alone. Don’t get into a car with a stranger (unless it’s a legitimate Uber) and be wary of following anyone you don’t know to a secluded spot. But with some common sense practices and having a good understanding of the area you're staying in, you should be just fine.

Experience mental downtime

Solo travel is an interesting paradox. On the one hand, you’re way out of your comfort zone and feel more alert and alive than ever. On the other hand, you’ve stepped away from all your connections at home, so for the first time in ages, there are no expectations.

People who love you also want to engage with you (and you with them) on a regular basis. So if you surround yourself with friends and family, you’re always engaging in something. When you watch a movie, they may want to know how you feel about it. If you're too quiet at dinner, your partner will want to know what's up. It's the give and takes that helps us form and maintain bonds.

But an interesting thing happens when you force yourself to experience life alone. No matter how many people are around you, there’s a sort of silence that can be quite rejuvenating. You get to connect with your true self, and that’s pretty amazing.

It’s refreshing to experience life on your own terms every now and again. And when you’re done, you can return to the comfort and support of the people who love you.

Enjoy a week of “me time”

As you settle into your solo vacation, you'll start realizing that you're in complete control. That's the empowerment in action. When you are calling all the shots, you start to realize what it's like to live for yourself.

And to be honest, this is something most of us need the practice to master. We end up trying so hard to please others that we lose sight of the things that are uniquely us.

Solo travel can help you bring that back. It can help you get to know yourself on a deeper level again – without the opinions or expectations of anyone else.

Because after a lifetime of planning your life with someone else, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate the things you truly want from the things that make someone else happy.

After your trip, you’ll likely return a changed person with a better sense of who you are and what you want from life.

As I said earlier, it's a life-changing experience for most people who take the plunge.

So when you feel like you're in a rut, maybe it's time for a solo trip. And if you can’t afford airfare, check your car maintenance, load up the vehicle, and go on the solo road trip of a lifetime.