I’m a travel addict. Last year, I was on the road about twice a month for work and right now, I’ve been in New York City for about a month and a half and I am going a bit stir crazy. Be it for work or for pleasure, I travel alone about 50% of the time and I love it. As it turns out, I’m not the only woman lately that shares this sentiment: women’s increased power in the workplace, delay in age of marriage and having children, Hillary Clinton running for president and Harriet Tubman coming soon on the $20 bill, we ladies are a force and the customer profiles in the travel industry reflect this. Despite this, some of my strong, independent girlfriends are still afraid to dine out alone. I get a lot of bewildered reactions when i say that I enjoy traveling solo, with some people even expressing concern (especially when I speak of my love of Latin America, but that’s another story) so when Fluff asked me to share why I relished traveling alone, I was more than happy.
The freedom. I’m going to start with the biggest draw to traveling alone here, the freedom. There is something so exhilarating about exploring a new city or culture on your own without the obligation on the day to day back home that makes you feel free. Your time is your own.
Speaking of your time being your own, that’s another wonderful thing about solo travel. You’re on vacation! Why rely on other people’s schedules? Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to experience a destination exactly how you want. Want to sleep in? That’s fine! Spend the whole day touring niche museums? Not a problem. It’s all up to you.
snag those deals.
Get those deals! It may sound a little selfish but treat yo self! How many times have you missed out on a great travel deal, or even concert tickets, because you were waiting to hear back from a friend whether or not to book. When you’re traveling alone, the answer is always, “yes! book now.”
Flight upgrades. A few times when traveling, I received an unexpected upgrade right before I’ve boarding my flight. Ticket counters are more likely to give these spontaneous upgrades to solo travelers. It makes more sense than separating a pair or group
Flexibility. When traveling solo, if you don’t like your location, you can chose the change the pace. Hate this town? Why not go to the next? When traveling solo, these changes and adjustment can be made, exactly when you want. There is not negotiating with your partner.
Independence. While traveling alone, you learn your strengths and your weakness. A strong sense of independence is inevitable as survival is in your own hands. Whether it’s navigating a new language or a new city, or even an uncomfortable situation at a foreign bar, you grow strength and confidence with the thought that you may have to take care of yourself. It’s a sure confidence-boost!
Time for soul-searching. Traveling alone gives you time. The aforementioned independence gives you a lot of time for soul-searching. Strengths, weaknesses, you have to confront who you truly are as you learn to relay on yourself and your surroundings. Having time disconnected and in your own head can be a great thing.
brush up on your language skills.
It might give you a chance to practice that language you learned in high school. I’m a firm believer in there’s no better way to learn a language than full cultural immersion. I took Italian in college, Latin since 5th grade, so I definitely picked it up easily while living in Milan, but it wasn’t until spending a summer in Gallipoli, where I was the only person in town with English as my native tongue, that I truly gained a fluency in Italian. Dating, friends, jokes, I had to speak it. Often when we travel with friends or family, instead of getting that one of a kind local practice in the language we’ve been studying to ages, we revert to the safety-net of just chatting with your travel companion.
restore your faith in humanity.
Restore your faith in humanity. This seems like a lofty statement but trust me, it’s true. From that person that helps you take your carry on down on an airplane to the person that shows you your way to the hotel and ends up becoming a close friend. Traveling alone really shows you the kindness in strangers.
I’m ending with my favorite perk of traveling alone. Meeting people. Whether with a group, family, friend or significant other, when we travel with others, we tend to be closed off to our surroundings or experiencing the locale in a very narrow way. The next time you’re at a bar, take a look at the people in pairs. Even body language tends to form a barrier against the outside world. That charming and handsome stranger is much less likely to come up to you while with your friends. When traveling alone you tend to be friendlier, have a more receptive demeanor.
Be sure to follow my solo travels around the world on Instagram and Periscope: @nneya and Snapchat and Twitter @nneyarichards!
A born and raised New Yorker & global citizen, Nneya Richards is a fashion maven and stylist, starting at 15 years old as a contributing editor of TeenVOGUE magazine, currently running Double N Rich Creative Consulting agency.
Her passion for cultural explorations led Nneya to launch ’N A Perfect World… a curated intersection of travel, food, fashion and geopolitics inspired by the global-citizen lifestyle of the millennial.