I speak from experience when I say the solo traveler is the one who finds the path she didn't know she was looking for.
I discovered the joys of solo travel by accident - I was stood up. Rather, right before my trip-of-a-lifetime cruise through East Asia last spring, my travel partner was so ill she had to cancel. Not wanting to forego my trip, I decided to double the adventure factor and go solo.
A cruise is the perfect way to get your feet wet as a solo traveler. Here are a few reasons why. One, everything is taken care of for you, no need to fret the details such as where to stay, finding a good restaurant, hailing a taxi, or getting lost. Two, the ship's crew takes extra care of you because you are a solo traveler. Three, generally speaking, cruise shipmates are quite sociable and will strike up a conversation before you do.
In years past, the solo traveler was an oddity, mysterious or suspicious. Not any more, and their numbers are growing. The travel industry has caught on. Today, the single passenger is being courted rather than just being levied a punitive single supplement.
I encourage you to consider taking a journey on your own. Never let the lack of a travel partner be the reason you stay home. Need more convincing? Check out the following reasons for going it alone.
Independence Day. Self-reliance grows, and with that comes newfound self-knowledge. Yes, you can manage buying train tickets in a foreign language with the help of a phrasebook. Yes, you can ask for a different hotel room. Yes, you can do it all.
Your rules, all the time. Obvious but often overlooked, when by yourself, you decide what to see, when to eat, how late to sleep, how to get there, and so on. The only accommodations to be made are for you.
Authenticity. Being on one's own gives more opportunity to interact with the locals of your destination and having authentic experiences.
Meet the experts. You know who has great insight on your destination? Other travelers, that's who. They've walked in your shoes and usually are happy to share tips and knowledge. Plus, you just may make a new friend for life.
Life changer. Sometimes, milestones - such as a graduation, divorce, becoming an empty nester, or retirement - throw curveballs. What do we do? How do we deal with the change? Will I feel normal again? Combine the metaphorical virgin territory with the real deal, and you'll be surprised what answers come to you when you have the luxury of your thoughts while immersed in a new environment.
Make new plans and start new projects. Sometimes, getting away from it all is exactly what you need to outline your new business or to start the novel that's been in your head for years. Travel nurtures creativity.
I know I would have had an equally marvelous time on my Asian cruise last spring if my travel partner had not had to cancel. It would have been different, though, in a separate but equal way.
I don't think I would have had the soulful connection with Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple, in Kyoto, Japan had I not been alone. Most certainly, my Vietnamese homecoming would not have carried the same emotional weight. I certainly would not have met so many friendly and helpful locals.
My Asian cruise did not go as planned, which turned into me discovering the joys of solo travel. And really, when you think about it, what trip ever turns out as planned?