Whether it's a day trip to downtown or a nearby beach, or a ten-day excursion like the one I took to California a few years ago, I've always loved exploring places by myself, then returning home and having stories to share that are all my own. While traveling with a few loved ones or a big group of friends has its own perks, here are 5 things to love about traveling solo.
1. Planning your own itinerary.
On a large scale, planning a trip on your own means that you only need to worry about your own schedule; no need to check if the dates that work for you will work for others - you can just go ahead and book those reservations!
Once you're at your destination, there's no need to worry about if others want to ride tricycles on the beach or look at sea lions at the Wharf all day (I'm a huge pinniped fan, and planned two days of my solo California trip around hanging out with seals and sea lions - and nobody could stop me).
2. Shorter wait times.
As a former Disney employee and current Orlando resident, I've discovered the beauty of single-rider lines. If your trip involves going to a large theme park, scope out what attractions have single rider lines and zip toward the front of the queue. The ride attendants get to fill more seats efficiently, and you have more time for great rides. Win-win.
Not going to a theme park? Traveling solo can still get you things faster. A party of six might have to wait 20 minutes to get seated at a restaurant, but you could always grab that last seat at the bar and enjoy your dinner a little sooner.
3. Meeting new people.
Maybe it's just the introvert in me, but when I'm somewhere with people I know, I'll never introduce myself to strangers. While I love my me-time (see below), 10 days in a new state without meeting anyone would have gotten boring, fast. Staying in a hostel, I was able to sit down and meeting people in the common areas, as many others were also traveling alone, or just excited to talk to people from all over (they were very curious why I was staying in a hostel - I was one of the few Americans there). When two girls from Norway and I met at the hostel came to my home city of Philadelphia a few months later, I was able to meet up with them, and in turn, met new people at the Philly hostel they were staying at.
Even if you're more the Marriott type, you'll still meet plenty of people while traveling solo. Maybe you'll strike up a conversation with the other solo traveler dining at the bar, or you'll decide to be an extra in a music video, have your cab drop you off at the wrong location, and meet twin sisters who got dropped off at the same spot (the video shoot took place on a freezing night by the beach, but it was great chatting with the twins as we navigated to the right meeting point together).
4. Controlling your downtime.
My trip to California took place right after a (really awesome!) week at Disney World with a big group of (really awesome) people (if you're wondering how I could afford all this, read my article about working on a cruise ship). It was a blast, but another week of high-energy socializing would have been exhausting.
Traveling on my own, if I had a burst of energy, I could choose to go out at night, or I could wait for everyone in the hostel to go dancing, so I could sit in the common room alone reading a book. When I felt like doing something in between, I just had to settle on a location I'd never been to before, find a place to sit there, and then I could people-watch for hours.
5. Having stories to tell.
You'll never forget your first solo trip. And when you come home and want to share your stories with everyone, there will be no, "Wait, were you with me that time?" (Although you'll probably be so excited that you'll tell people the same stories ten times.)
Intrigued? Check out Solo Traveler for more tips on traveling alone!