5 Reasons You Should Travel Solo

I'm studying abroad in Hong Kong this semester, and I arrived in late December to stay with a friend for about a week. After my friend left Hong Kong, I had another week on my own before my school semester started. During that time, I decided to take my first solo trip, to Singapore.

Everyone says to travel solo at some point, and they say it for good reason! It was an absolutely amazing experience for me, and I recommend it to anyone who is able to. Here are five reasons why.

1. You get used to being alone without feeling lonely.

As weird - and even sad - as it was to be on my own at first, I came to really enjoy the company of my own thoughts, the fun of people-watching and sight-seeing, and the feeling of being self-sufficient and independent. There was something quite satisfying about making a plan for myself and just doing it. Somehow, I found the courage to eat at restaurants, see a show, explore museums and neighbourhoods, and hike on my own. And somewhere along the way, I think that courage translated into confidence. Although I experienced things differently from how I would have if I were with friends or family, the fact is that the experience was just that: different, not necessarily better or worse. And here's something cool: the experience was uniquely my own.

2. You get to problem-solve.

You're bound to encounter challenges in your travels, and chances are, you'll rise to the occasion and be better off because of it. As a small example, I honestly felt very dependent on my cellphone as a traveler and had some fear about not being able to do anything if I were to have lost it. One night, I neglected to charge my phone, and thus it ran out of battery early in the morning. I surprised myself by still making the absolute most of my day; in retrospect, it was a welcome challenge to rely for a while on paper maps, friendly people, and my memory.

Not all problems have positive or fun outcomes, and sometimes everything just seems to go wrong for no good reason; but, there are always valuable lessons to be learned from these experiences, if you look for them. Right before I left for Singapore, I accidentally locked my debit card by entering my PIN wrong too many times. (Who knew that select ATMs in Asia have their number pads reversed? Not me, clearly...) It took me at least five calls to the bank, about 25 "transaction failed" slips from various ATMs, and a few favours from friends to help me get an acceptable solution to this problem. And I did learn a lot from the experience - mainly, to look before I type my PIN.

3. You can meet amazing people from all over the world (and as a lone tourist, you're likely to come off as even more approachable).

I met some wonderful people at the hostel I stayed at. They had the best stories, and we made some memories of our own during the time that we hung out. I even met a fellow solo traveler while hiking and ended up exchanging contact info with her. With a genuine openness to new experiences and diverse perspectives (plus, staying in a hostel and participating in tours or meet-ups helps), you're sure to cross paths with great people in all sorts of places.

4. You spend no less and no more time doing any given activity than you want to.

If you personally don't care at all to see a certain nature reserve in the place you're visiting, but would love to spend an entire day meticulously inspecting each artifact at some niche museum, then go for it! When you're traveling alone, you're the captain of your ship and you don't need to take anyone else's preferences into account in your daily activities. You can feel totally free to literally get lost in a place (while staying safe) and see where your instincts take you.

Even for things as simple as using the restroom or staying hydrated, you only have to worry about taking care of your own needs. In the same way, you spend money exactly the way you want to: splurge in the areas that you determine to be most valuable, and save in others.

5. You get to know yourself better.

Traveling alone is a great time to learn to trust yourself, get a little introspective, and maybe even do some growing up. When you travel solo, you don't have anyone else to immediately fall back on if you're feeling lazy or make some silly mistake (which is bound to happen at least a few times). Depending on yourself forces you to take responsibility for everything you do, and even address some of your own weaknesses or fears. On the flip side, you might even discover a new personal favourite solo activity or tradition for yourself. It's just a different ballgame and can be a great form of self-care.

Before traveling alone, I do recommend looking into how safe a potential destination is, particularly as a solo female. If you do decide to travel somewhere on your own, I wish you the absolute best. I hope you experience each of the things I mentioned, and I bet you'll learn much more on your own!