One of the most prominent questions that I heard about my travel plans and when I mentioned that I travel alone was if it wouldn’t be too boring or if I would miss all the people at home.
Maybe you are in the same situation? You just have a week off, feel like traveling but no one of your peers is spontaneous enough to join you. Now you could cancel your plans and just stay at home and miss out on the adventure, or You follow your own interest book your flight and the next moment You have the greatest week of your life.
The same goes for a long-term trip where it can even be more difficult to find someone like-minded. A lot of people are constrained to their work schedule and don’t have the opportunity to travel for a few months.
Traveling Alone is the greatest thing ever! I assure You that You won’t be bored, miss social contacts or in general will be unhappy with that decision.
Especially if you are embedded in the Street Photography world, Traveling Alone has many benefits and will make you grow not only in Photography but as a person.
Being part of a group or traveling with Your significant other will take away a lot of responsibilities and will make it feel easier, but it takes away also the adventure part of the journey.
While traveling alone, You learn so much about Yourself, Your goals in life and are able to experience the local culture in a total way, that I want to present the 7 reasons to Travel alone and why you definitely should pursue it.
1 Experience the Maximum Freedom
Traveling in pairs or groups always come with compromises. Being a social being and around your friends means that you have to prioritize differently and that means that you can not 100% of the time can do what you really want.
If the majority of the group rather wants to go to the restaurant, while you like to experience the street food, then chances are that you compromise to take the lunch at the restaurant.
Of course, you can always split from the group and do your own thing, but then you could have already traveled on your own from the beginning.
I quit my job to travel because I didn’t want anyone to tell me what I have to do for the time I am not employed. Traveling alone exactly gives me that freedom to do 100% what I want and to follow my own motivation.
If I want to sleep in – no problem.
Going around town for 12 hours for Street Photography – fun to me, but difficult for anyone else.
The list can go on, but I simply want to state that the freedom you experience while traveling alone cannot be toped in anytime again.
In your “regular” life you always have some kind of responsibilities and you are not 100% free to do whatever you want. It is different while traveling. This is the time that you are taking off your regular schedule to just do whatever you want.
You will not experience full freedom when traveling in groups.
2 Overcoming Challenges
We are living in an easy society in the Western World. Under normal circumstances we have enough to eat, are sheltered and don’t face any real challenges anymore.
The hardest choice people have to make now is if they either go for the newest iPhone or Samsung.
Okay, this might be a bit exaggerated, but putting this into perspective I recall my first memories to be of joining a football team. On the other hand, some of my relatives describe their first memories as they fled the Bombing of Berlin.
It is good, that we live a secure life and don’t have to worry about too much anymore, but it also makes us complacent and lazy. A lot of people are caught in the 9-5 treadmill without really making any progress.
If you can relate to this situation and have lived a rather sheltered, good life then traveling alone can bring back those essential life spirits.
At some point of the journey, you will face problems that you feel are rather big and might destroy your travel plans. Even before you are on your way to your destination, all the things that you have to consider could feel very overwhelming.
But this time, instead of relying on others to get your shit together, You will do it yourself. You will think about the solution and You will be able to overcome any problem that you face.
Finding yourself in a foreign country where no one speaks your language can be quite scary. But whatever problem might be in your way, you will find a solution.
Before I came to Indonesia I had no idea on how to ride a scooter or motorbike. Now I am living in the jungle, the “roads” are terrible, just piles of rocks and sand shook up by steep slopes. When I told my homestay’s family that I want to leave the village on my own to go the nearest city, but also explained that I never rode a scooter before they just laughed in disbelief.
A few days and a lot of learning hours later I managed to leave the village on my own and “survived” the traffic of Indonesia, even adapting to the left-hand traffic.
That was a feeling of accomplishment that I never had experienced before and gives you a real confidence boost. If you are able to overcome those problems in a totally different environment, being able to live in the jungle and move around on your own, then what problems are there at home that you aren’t able to solve?
For the first time in Your life maybe, there is no family or friend to help You out, so You have to overcome any challenge Yourself. In the end, you will find a solution and the feeling of success will last for your lifetime and make you more self-confident.
3 Meeting New People While Traveling Alone
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you are lonely or don’t have any social contacts. In contrast, I believe that you have much more social interaction when you are traveling alone and are a lot more open to meet new people.
At the time I started university at a very small university town, I also observed that it was a lot easier for people, that were from a different town to meet new people and form new social circles. When you already have that kind of friends around you, you are less likely to interact with others, because you can just talk to your friends and hang out with them.
While traveling alone, you won’t have any other chance for real human interaction other than going out yourself and be open to the new people that you meet. Even if you are not the most outgoing type, it will still be easy for you to find new friends or travel partners.
Especially if you are a Street Photographer there are like-minded people all around the world. I couldn’t believe it myself because it already felt difficult in Berlin to meet other Street Photographers and I have the feeling that there are not that much of us out there. Traveling through Southeast Asia has shown me that there is a huge Street Photography community out there, that is more than willing and interested in meeting you and listen to your story. Moreover, they go out of their way to help you out, show the city or give tips in general.
If you already have a partner, you are a lot less forced to leave your comfort zone and meeting new peers, therefore traveling alone is actually more social than already bringing your partner or friends along with you.
In case that you are in more remote places, you can always have a chat with your friends abroad if you feel like it.
4 Learn more about Yourself
Traveling is not only about the experiences and memories you take home, but also about personal development. While traveling alone You will have some downtime where you are having time by yourself where you can reflect about your goals in life, photography or any other aspect. This is personal time, that can be hard to find at home because there are constantly any distractions. But when you are alone and on a journey, you will be able to find that important time to get your thoughts together and focus on what you really want to achieve in life and how you want to get there.
In addition to that, you will learn about all your strength and weakness because you are challenged in a way that you have never experienced before. The challenges of an adventure that I already presented before will tell a lot more about what you are capable of and in which areas you can improve in.
From my experience, the important time and reaching the zen status can be achieved best when traveling alone, because it takes away one distracting factor.
Street Photography is like some kind of meditation when I am in Berlin, but gets facilitated even more when I am traveling abroad. Due to all the new senses and impressions, it can be quite exhausting, but that will leave you in a state of mind, where you are completely focused in the moment.
Some people meditate, others shut themselves out in a monastery, but I prefer traveling by myself to achieve that personal development and being able to reflect on life and how the ideal future would look like for me.
5 Getting out of Your Comfort Zone
When traveling abroad you will face challenges on a daily basis. Basic things like trying to communicate with locals to get groceries or simply getting accustomed to the new culture will force you out of your comfort zone.
In our modern society, we aren’t really forced to go out of our own comfortable life. We can live a relatively secure life without expanding our boundaries or try new things. Our daily life is even dominated by the same routine for most of the time. We get up in the morning around the same time for breakfast, then commute to work and coming home to watch some tv or if we feel like it, attend some sports class.
As I traveled alone, even mundane things like eating with chopsticks forced me to go out of my comfort zone. Of course, I might look stupid the first time I try to eat some local Pho with chopsticks, but it is important to realize that there is nothing wrong with it, or that we should instead refrain to the “easy” ways of life.
Traveling alone is not only about facing those hard troubles or solving problems, but also about those little daily challenges that force you to differ from your accustomed life. The good thing is that in the same way that you will solve those big problems on your own, you will also get used to leaving your comfort zone on your own on a daily basis. You don’t need anybody to push yourself or tell you what to do.
You will be more open to exploring new things, be more courageous and learn to experience life outside your secure shell.
6 Follow Your Curiosity
When I go out for Street Photography in a new city, I usually don’t have a real plan where exactly I am going to end up and which route I am taking. I might have a rough target that I am aiming at because I heard from friends that the place might hold some interest photography opportunities, but who knows if I might be attracted by other things that interest me more.
Exploring new places on your own truly allows you to follow your curiosity, to be led by the noise, scent or people that interest you the most.
Traveling and Photographing are very similar in that kind, that you have to make compromises in a group.
Going out on your own truly calls up the explorer in you. Following your own instincts, you are able to experience the city from your own point of view and don’t have to regard the interests of others.
On the other hand, I already wrote that meeting local Street Photographers is a great opportunity to learn about places, that you couldn’t find any other way. Moreover, gaining insight into the community and how the people think about Street Photography in such distant places is a great inspiration.
Often, I would re-visit those places later on my own, because I feel more comfortable to actually focus on the photography and get better results.
Therefore I would recommend finding a good mixture between meeting with local Street Photographers, but also finding some time on your own to exploring a new city while traveling alone.
Once you have prepared everything, the plan is finished and now you are sitting at the place of your dreams, that you have fantasized about every minute you worked at your 9-5 job, the feeling of accomplishment will set in. You will be rewarded for all the work you put in, not only for all the thought and organization that went into the actual trip but also for all the work to get that money for the adventure.
The best thing is, that you realize you did it all on your own. Yes, it is not easy and of course, the plan will never be executed 100% in the way that you imagined beforehand.
That doesn’t matter, because any problem you face, you can solve, any obstacle lying ahead of you, you are able to overcome and you will know that you can do it all by yourself.
There is no safety net or any other person that can help you out other than yourself.
It is not always stressfree and it is easier to just book an all-inclusive roundtrip at a travel agency, but that is not the adventure that you were looking for.
You wanted to be different.
In life, there is always the option to go the easy route, but that doesn’t translate to the most fulfilled life.
If you are seeking to escape your boring life just for a few weeks, or months, want to satisfy the adventurer in you and experience life to the fullest, then traveling alone is the perfect way to explore not only new cities, cultures, and people, but also yourself in a totally new way.