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Solo Travel

Generally, when it comes to traveling alone, you'll either love it or hate it. Sometimes, you'll do both at the same time.

I've done a decent amount of traveling on my own, and I have to confess – at this point, I've come to prefer it. That may change down the road, but for now, I like not having to compromise on where I want to go, what I want to do, or how long I want to stay somewhere.

I also end up experiencing the place I'm visiting a bit more. When you travel with someone, it's easy to get caught up in a bubble of sorts. You still see and do all these "foreign" things, but you have this extra layer, almost, keeping you from fully immersing yourself in the experience. No matter how much you and your travel companion are keen to get into the culture, you still have this constant anchor to home. When you're on your own, you have no choice but to live in the moment – and the place – you're in.

That being said, it's not all rainbows and lollipops when you're off on your own, either. Loneliness and homesickness can end up being your companions when you least expect – or want – them to. I used to never have a problem eating a meal on my own, but I sometimes feel like I stick out like a sore thumb when I'm the only one sitting at my table in a foreign country. (However, it has allowed me to have wonderful conversations with people who never would have approached me if I had a dining partner.)

Traveling alone also requires a higher level of self-confidence and self-comfort than you might think it would. If you can't be happy with your own company, you may well end up completely miserable – while it's easy enough to find fellow travelers to chat with, there will still be times when you're on your own, unless you completely give yourself up to someone else's whims. (And that completely defeats the purpose of going somewhere by yourself to begin with.) When a problem or complication crops up, you have to rely on yourself to find a solution, so you have to be willing to trust in your own abilities. That may seem fairly basic, but I realized pretty quickly during my first trip alone that I'd gotten used to having friends and family to turn to when something went wrong. Fixing something completely by my own devices was more of a stretch than I would have liked.

You also have to give extra consideration to safety when planning a solo trip. There are simply places where it isn't wise to travel alone, period. There are others when you have to be extra careful with where you go, how you dress, or when you're out in public. Just because you're on a holiday doesn't mean the world is magically a better place. Too many people have too many horror stories to be cavalier with your personal safety. If in doubt, it's easy enough to find a group tour that caters to independent travelers that you could join, which would give you a certain amount of flexibility while keeping you somewhat safe.

I don't think solo travel suits everyone, but I do think it can be one of the best things you can do for yourself, if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the experience.

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