The Rise of Solo Travel: 4 Reasons Why We Love To Travel Alone
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The secret is out about solo travel – and everybody’s doing it!
What was once a right of passage for single backpackers fresh out of school trying to “find themselves,” traveling solo has soared into the mainstream faster than a flight from L.A. to San Francisco. From young professionals to retirees and everyone in between, it seems folks from all walks of life want to captain their very own adventure-ship without circumnavigating around someone else’s.
According to a recent study conducted by Booking.com, more travelers than ever before are reaping the rewards of a “me”-time vacation, and feel more fulfilled from a solo trip. The study found that women are now 51% more likely to be the master of their own itinerary than they were 5 years ago, while 23% of men think real adventure only comes from traveling alone.
Internet searches for “solo travel ideas” are up by more than 50% this year according to Google, and tourism operators now offer everything from solo-cruises to medi-spa’s in a bid to capitalize on this growing trend.
“Traveling by yourself is no longer taboo, or even scary for that matter,” says co-founder of Australian lifestyle blog Show+Tell, Brooke Bayes. I, for one agree with Brooke. There used to be a certain type of stigma attached to a person, especially a women, traveling on their own.
But, nowadays, you’re no longer a lonely weirdo for traveling unattached. You don’t have some rare form of social leprosy. In fact, you’re more of an empowered independent adventurer, embracing new and exotic experiences you might not have otherwise have been able to before. And besides, who wants to compromise on who gets the aisle seat?
So, it’s official, many of us love solo travel almost as much as an unexpected upgrade to first class. Which begs the question: Why does it hold such a special place in our hearts? Whether it’s for the freedom, immersion or sense of adventure, here are four reasons why we love to travel alone.
1) Solo Travel Gives You the Freedom to Be Yourself
Riddle me this: When was the last time you made a decision that wasn’t influenced by your boss, your kids, your dog or [insert significant other here]. Let’s face it, most of the time your life is not your own but isn’t it fantastic to be able to book a trip and get away from it all.
The possibilities are endless. You can get to know yourself again, and you can indulge yourself fully and be answerable to no one. If you want to spend an entire day at the beach drinking Mojitos and reading about conspiracy theories, then gosh darn it, that’s exactly what you’ll do.
2) Solo Travel Reinvigorates Your Sense of Adventure
Ah, the monotony of everyday life, we’ve all been there. But when your reality starts to resemble a scene from Groundhog Day, it’s time for a re-boot . . . all the way to Madagascar. The IndependentTraveler.com talks endlessly about the pleasures of traveling without a companion: “People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff.”
Traveling alone allows you to concentrate fully on new and exciting experiences happening right before your eyes. No alarm clocks, no prior engagements — it’s just you pushing your comfort zone beyond any pesky reminders of home.
3) Solo Travel Gives You Time to Indulge
At the risk of sounding all Eat, Pray Love, one of the easiest ways to travel solo is to focus on your health and wellbeing. Booking one of the many all-inclusive meditation retreats around the globe allows you to experience the best of both worlds: getting real with yourself while having your entire holiday (pampering, classes, accommodation) taken care of. All you have to do is show up.
And if you think solo spa holidays are only for the ladies, then I’m sorry, but you’re sorely mistaken. Today’s super-luxe, male-oriented “mancations” offer innovative dining, inspiring architecture and cutting-edge treatments for stress relief. “It has taken longer for American guys to figure out that spas are about lifestyle management and the need to slow the heck down,” says Lynne McNees, the President of the American Spa Association. “[But] the spa gives them permission to pause.”
4) Solo Travel Facilitates Cultural Engagement
If you want to travel like a tourist, then by all means. Form a lemming-like line outside a religious monument and start snapping away. Top Tourist tips: be as loud as you can, disrespect local customs, scoff at the food and dress entirely inappropriately.
But, if you want to be a true traveler, go it solo. Traveling on your lonesome creates more meaningful opportunities to immerse yourself with the foreign culture, people and activities. Plus, you’re more open to saying “yes” when a local asks you to dinner if you haven’t made plans with your travel buddy.
So, basically, solo travel is pretty awesome, and 70% of people seem to think so too. They feel more energized and refreshed traveling alone than when traveling with friends, families and even partners, according to the previously mentioned study. That’s a pretty big chunk of people. So if you want some social Lexapro, then spend the cash and schedule a “me-time” vacation to reinvigorate your sense of self. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Call her a nomad, but travel keeps Stefanie Acworth sane. After living and working in London and New York (and everywhere in between), she still calls Australia home (or so the QANTAS commercial says). When she’s not gallivanting around the globe and penning her adventures, you can find her making dreamcatchers in Byron Bay, copywriting for some top Australian brands or hosting the next pub trivia night at her local. Follow her travels on her blog, AModernWayfarer.com.