I've traveled alone and I've traveled with friends, and there are upsides to both.
When traveling with friends, there's always going to be that person who prevents you from making terrible decisions, like that time in Ibiza when you wanted to go to Pacha alone with a (very cute) British guy you just met who was most certainly tripping on MDMA.
But then there are those times when traveling alone is utter perfection: getting lost in the clusterf*ck maze of Jerusalem's old city walls and being completely at peace with your surroundings, taking in the street traffic without someone pestering you about the sweltering heat and pushy street merchants.
At that moment, you become a “wander woman” — forever chasing the high on solo traveling.
Though it may seem scary, traveling alone is something every woman should try at least once. In fact, It's quickly becoming a trend among women 18-34, who pin solo travel ideas three times more than women aged 35 and above, according to Pinterest data.
As women, when traveling in groups we tend to overthink things that might be dangerous but worthwhile, and opt for things that are safe and group-friendly. But when you're alone, you can finally let your freak flag fly.
Here's some reasons to consider traveling by yourself.
1. You're forced to make friends with strangers
As someone who is slightly introverted, I liked the security of having a friend to talk to when traveling. But being alone forced me to interact with strangers on a day-to-day basis, and learn how to embrace awkward greetings and ask more personal questions. As a result, my conversations with strangers were much more complex and intimate that by the end of the night they felt like old friends.
2. You can really get to know that hottie, without the interference of your friends
Meeting someone you're interested in abroad can feel incredibly exciting. They are like-minded, adventurous and totally unique to anyone you grew up with back home. Without the annoying nudging of you girlfriend complaining about wanting to go back to the hostel, you can spend hours talking, taking romantic strolls in the moonlight — get really cheesy with it.
Just make sure you always stay in crowds, don't get too wasted and make well-thought-out decisions. They are strangers, after all.
3. You'll say yes to things you never thought you would
Chances are the people you meet on your travels, especially backpackers, are used to taking spontaneous risks like bungee jumping off bridges and eating unmentionable insects. If you're going to hang with them, you'll have to learn to take some risks.
At the end of you trip, you'll have racked up tons of interesting stories to make your friends jealous.
4. You'll splurge on totally random and useless things
When traveling abroad, money conversions can be tricky and you just might be swindled into spending way too much money on useless trinkets the street merchant swear are authentic and vintage. Don't fight the process, you deserve that silky Turkish scarf and sparkly bangles.
When you get back home, you can brag about your one-of-a-kind accessories.
5. You can make your own schedule
Stereotype or not, women can be fickle at times, especially when it comes to planning out a day of sightseeing. Being alone will allow you to do things you truly want to do, without the input of others.
Feel like mapping out your trip to Rome solely based off sites shot in “Roman Holiday”? Go for it. You could eat your way through Naples “Eat, Pray, Love” style, or go full on “Summertime” and flirt with a bevy of men in Venice like Kathryn Hepburn. No one can hold you down.
6. You won't regret your stupid decisions
There's always that judgey friend who will call you out for three-way kissing that hot Brazilian couple after way too many tequila shots. But when you're alone, you never have to feel guilty for your wild drunken antics because no one is around to unfairly call you out. Come morning, it'll be like it never happened.
7. You rely on yourself to figure things out
All I can say is God bless Google Maps. There will come a time in your travels when you'll be confused and downright annoyed trying to figure out which street leads to what museum your mom's friend said you "just have" to see.
When you're on your own, it's up to you to ask for directions and figure it out. You'll have an intense feeling of self-confidence when you know you're capable of finding things on your own.
8. You will take in the sights like never before
Just think how amazing it will be when you finally hike up that long trek in the Grand Canyon and finally lay eyes on that gorgeous view you've only seen in history books. You can soak it all in, sit down for hours and reflect on how magical life can be, quietly.
The solitude can also help you reach a meditative zone, which helps with stress levels over time.
9. You will learn to trust strangers with your personal items
No matter how skilled you are, sometimes a selfie just won't do. Unless you want go full-on tourist and tote around a selfie stick, you're going to have to trust strangers with your fancy cameras and phones.
Quick tip: Look for a female sightseer similar to yourself, as they won't be bothered by your request. Who knows, you might even make a friend.
10. You will eat (and drink) whatever you want without judgment
One of the best parts about traveling solo is the ability to sit outside a quaint Parisian cafe, stuff your face with eclairs and macarons and just people watch. You can hang out all day if you wanted to, without the prying eyes of your yogi friend who will subsequently lecture you on the benefits of a gluten-free diet.
11. You will feel completely and totally free
There's an undeniable sense of freedom that comes from traveling alone, without help, rules or guidelines. Every day is a mystery and it's completely unique to you, so make the most of it.
Mingle with locals, try an off-the-beaten-path restaurant and just soak it all in. You'll never feel this cathartic again.
12. You will gain a sense of independence that will stay with you forever
Traveling alone will build immense life skills, such as social prowess, a keen sense of direction and the ability to adapt to change and uncomfortable environments, to name a few. By the time you come home, you won't need anyone's input to reach your goals.