On the Merits of Traveling Alone #1: Doing What You Want to Do

When people ask me about my travels, a frequent follow-up question is if I’m going with anyone or if I’m visiting someone. And people often seem surprised when I tell them that I’m going by myself or not meeting anyone.

I travel alone relatively frequently, and I highly recommend that everyone try it at least once. There are lots of reasons to travel by yourself, but one reason why I enjoy traveling alone is that I get to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it and nothing else. Yes, I realize that this sounds very self-centered, but it can be hard to find people that you’re compatible to travel with. Everyone has different things that they like to do, everyone has different preferences on where they like to stay, everyone has different abilities or willingness to pay. And just because you’re great friends with someone in everyday life doesn’t mean that you’ll be great travel buddies.

When you travel by yourself, there’s no one else who you have to consider when you’re making plans. Don’t like museums? Great! You don’t have to go. Visiting an attraction and you’re bored and want to leave? Do it. Tired and just want to take a nap? You can head to your hotel/hostel/ryokan/couch and sleep without worrying about being a downer on someone else’s experience. Even the initial step of booking a trip can be enabled if you’re just willing to do it by yourself.

All of this probably sounds pretty obvious, but if you haven’t traveled by yourself, I think it’s hard to realize that you’re constantly compromising when you’re traveling with others. It can be incredibly freeing to realize that the only person you need to please right now is yourself.

Of course, I love to travel with others as well, and most of my trips involve traveling with friends or family or visiting people, but it can be great to travel by yourself and worry only about pleasing yourself every once in a while.

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