This article was submitted by Goats on the Road, a website aimed at teaching others to turn travel into a lifestyle. Check them out to learn how to start a travel blog and how to make money on the road so you can travel indefinitely.
Travel takes on all shapes and forms. Sometimes you're on a solo trip with complete freedom and flexibility, and other times travel becomes a unique bonding experience with a friend or family member. Both kinds of travel have their particular challenges and advantages, which we will explore in this article.
Traveling Alone Can Be a Life-Changing Experience
Solitary travel can be an amazing experience. It's a time that allows you to connect with nature, new cultures, and yourself. Plus, alone time can provide you a vital break from the social stresses of everyday life- especially if you're surrounded by people a majority of the time.
Time to Connect with Locals
Traveling alone can be the perfect opportunity to connect with people you wouldn't normally have the chance to meet. Since you'll be by yourself, you'll have nearly unlimited chances to interact with strangers along the way, versus when you're traveling with a partner whom you already know. Sometimes you can become insular and only talk to that one person, instead of taking this great opportunity to meet new friends.
(Ideally, even if you are traveling with a partner, you can still reach out and make some cool local connections. Just make sure you and your travel partner are on the same page.)
As a solo traveler, don't be afraid to start a conversation or ask a question to a stranger. You will consistently be surprised by how friendly and helpful people will be. That's not to say everyone will be eager to meet you, but more often than not, locals are more than happy to show off their home towns.
On the flip side, sometimes you may feel isolated traveling by yourself. It's important to reach out and make connections to avoid feeling like you're alone in the world.
Being by yourself means you get to make all of the decisions about how you want to travel. You can plan everything out beforehand or make it all up as you go; there will be no one else's needs to address but your own. Solo travel is a great exercise for getting in touch with your mind and personal needs and desires.
How do you really want to spend this precious time on the road? Asking questions like this will not only help you get to know your destination, but also yourself.
Traveling long term? Here are the things no one will tell you.
If you're traveling independently in a foreign country, you may be seen as a more vulnerable target for crime; this means you'll need to take extra precautions. There will be no one to watch your bag at the airport when you have to go to the bathroom, and if you're tired, no one's going to keep an eye out for you while you take a quick nap.
You'll want to be hyper-aware of your surroundings and take extra caution at night, when taking taxis and other forms of transportation, and when traveling on overnight buses. Staying safe as a solo traveler is certainly not impossible, but you will need to spend a bit more time planning and identifying how to stay safe, as well as determining your comfort zone.
Do you speak the local language? How familiar are you with your destination? Do you know who to reach out to in case of an emergency? Asking these questions can help establish a parameter of safety so that you can enjoy your time away without feeling like you've gotten in over your head. On the plus side, you'll often be much less conspicuous than when you're part of a big group.
Refrain from wearing flashy jewelry or speaking too loudly- especially if you're not speaking the local language. You don't want to attract a lot of unwanted attention or alert possible pickpockets that you're a foreigner in a new city. You may not know all the ropes just yet, so don't make yourself an unnecessary target.
The Beauty of Traveling with a Partner
Travel is also an amazing experience to share, whether you and your partner are traveling as a couple or you're just venturing to a new place with a good friend.
One of the best aspects of traveling with a partner is that you get to share a really unique experience with someone, which oftentimes creates a very strong bond- and memories that last a lifetime.
It can be frustrating to travel somewhere new independently, just to return home and feel like no one quite understands what you've experienced and how you've changed. But if you have someone along the way, experiencing everything right beside you, you know they'll "get it."
Challenges You May Face Together
One of the biggest challenges of traveling with a partner, whoever it may be, is establishing common ground. Maybe you have slightly different interests or dissimilar goals for the trip. It's important that you talk about your goals and how you'll solve potential issues before you decide to travel together.
One common problem that arises when traveling with someone else is that both travel partners end up spending too much time together. It's easy to do when you're on the road with someone, doing the same activities and staying in the same hostel or hotel- or even sharing a room.
It's helpful to find a balance between things that you do together and times that you each set aside for yourself. Making a conscious effort to have some alone time will allow you an experience that lives up to each of your expectations, without feeling smothered by too much time together.
Travel should be enjoyable and rewarding, whether you go it alone or share it with someone in your life. Be aware of what you're hoping to get out of your trip. Talk or write those goals down before you leave. Check in along the way and make adjustments if it feels like something isn't quite right.