A little while back a friend told me she was contemplating a solo trip to a Caribbean island. As I answered her questions about my experience in various islands, accommodation options and which flights would be cheapest, I got excited that she was planning such a trip. I love travelling alone and I think everybody should do it at least once. In the end she decided to go to a different destination with a friend.
That’s perfectly fine and I’m sure she’ll have a great time. But then I thought about all the opportunities that she would miss out on. I When I first started travelling on my own I didn’t even know solo travel was a thing. One trip was to Antigua and Barbuda for work, another to Scotland for a weekend at the University of Stirling and then on to Edinburgh for sightseeing. There have been several since then and I wouldn’t trade them for the world!
Let me say up front that I don’t mind doing most things on my own. I’m also a big planner so once I can do my research well ahead of time, I’m more comfortable. Travelling on your own will be more difficult if you love familiar company all the time or you often leave the planning up to someone else. But even then, I still advocate giving solo travel a try.
Now listen, several blog posts that I’ve read on this issue talk about backpacking through Asia, crashing on strangers’ couches and travelling to destinations where English is not the first language. I’ve never done the first one and the closest I’ve come to the other two are a gorgeous AirBNB in Harlem and three days in Quebec City. I’m a regular Bajan girl trying not to give her mother a heart attack so nothing I do is extreme.
With that out of the way, here’s why I advocate solo travel:
1. You get to do whatever you want to do. You won’t get dragged along to Miami for the umpteenth even though you really would like see a Caribbean island. And if you only want to hit the mall, no one will be next to you moaning and groaning about how they want to be at the beach.
2. You learn to rely on yourself. From finding the right departure gate to making sure you know the address of your hotel to give the taxi driver, it’s all at you. If you’re not feeling well, ain’t nobody to send to the pharmacy!
3. But you also learn to trust that people are generally kind/good/helpful. If you really can’t manage on your own, ask for help. I guarantee you will almost never have to ask twice. Locals and even other tourists are often more than willing to lend a helping hand.
4. There is more world at your disposal. This is kinda linked to the first point but its slightly different. Once you’ve wrapped your head around the idea of travelling solo, literally everywhere you’ve ever wanted to go seems like a real possibility. Holders of Barbadian passports can go to a large number of places visa-free. Once you can afford the flight, the rest is cake. France? Bali? Just across the water to St Lucia? It’s all up to you.
5. You can make connections that you wouldn’t make otherwise. Travel with a friend and you’ll probably spend most of your time talking to them. Travel alone and a stranger will probably strike up a conversation with you. You may make a lasting friendship or you may just have a good 10 minute chat. Either way, you’ll realise you’re never truly alone in this world.
For more on how to make those connections when you travel, check out this post.