No! nah uh! If you have started reading this article in the hopes of finding some wanderlust-y, uplifting, kumbaya hoohaa that is going to inspire you to travel by yourself, sorry to disappoint you, but NONE of those vibes are being served here. Rather, this is an account of 5 major serendipities I experienced when traveling solo. And now if that motivates you to buy a single one-way ticket to Buenos Aires and leave your social world behind, then more power to ya, my friend!
So here goes—5 realass reasons why you might want to consider traveling by yourself.
1. You can be whoever the f*ck you want to be
Imagine being at a place where not a single soul knows who you are. You know what that means? With absolutely NO ONE to be accountable to, you can be ANYONE you wanted to be! So think of any outrageous alter-ego/fantasy you wanted to live out…….and now imagine living it out forreal! If I had a penny for every time I pretended to be a professional dog walker living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or a coconut milk drinking, fair trade avocado eating, Brooklyn living douchey hipster—I’d be a frigging billionaire by now. Go ahead, be that Regina Phelange and Ken Adams you always wanted to be (…dat “Friends” reference doe ;))!
2. Quick table service
If you are anything like me, you like to experience a place through its food. And if you are in that type of gastronomic expedition, you will invariably land up at restaurants and eating joints that are massively popular. Do you know how tough it is to find a spot, let alone a reservation at these places? VERY! But hey, the “table for one,” or, “a single seat at the bar,” is a MAJOR life hack that plays out to your advantage of solo travelers. So pig out while enjoying the stink eye from romantic couples and obnoxiously loud group-travelers standing in line waiting to be seated.
[Read Related: Travel With Family: A Wise Friend’s Advice to a Desi Nomad]
3. Picture Perfect Time
Ever ask a friend to take your picture at a perfect location with an even perfect-er pose that is going to put your Insta on fire? And when you see the picture its NOTHING like you had imagined! And you can really ask for only so many re-takes before you friend gets pissed at you? And now you’re stuck with this lameass picture of yourself that you can only share with your mom? Yeah, been there, sister. When traveling alone, you have NO FRIENDs, so you have to stop random strangers to ask for a picture. Don’t like a picture taken by a stranger? No problem! Walk 2 inches ahead and ask ANOTHER stranger to take your picture. Repeat process until you get a fiyaaah picture worthy of a thousand double taps!
4. Major Adulting Sesh
Do you find yourself misplacing/losing valuable things such as house keys or credit cards on the regz? Or have you ever gotten shitfaced so bad that you don’t remember how you got to the place where you woke up the next morning? Well, if your answer is no, then you are just a better person than I am. But if you have nodded your head viciously to the questions above (and are now questioning your existence), traveling alone can be a huge learning experience for you. Going to the bars abroad knowing that you do not have a friend to fall back on, or checking out of the hotel room remembering to clear out all the drawers without your parent having to remind you to do so—all of these really serve as lessons in your ADULTING 101 class.
5. The Superhero Feeling
“So who are you traveling with?”
If you are traveling alone, people somehow tend to think of you as someone who is wildly brave! People treat you with mad respect because you are doing something not a lot of people dare to do. And guess what? They are right! Not a lot of people are brave enough to travel to a far off land by themselves. And very few people are brave enough to be in their own company and enjoy it. And THAT, my friends, is the biggest serendipity of traveling solo.
Aditi Paul is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Pace University. She tries to find out how strangers become friends and lovers with people they meet online, all in the name of academic research. When she is not professing, you will find her pretending to be a singer and a guitar player on SoundCloud.