Today the Independent reported that a university survey showed that travelling alone “provided some participants with the feeling that they had more control over their lives and actions.” Well…duh! Here’s a short post about my experiences travelling alone and celebrating the benefits of throwing rigid plans out of the window!

Going abroad alone is something I’ve quite enjoyed doing over the years, websites such as Kayak.com or Skyscanner offer extremely cheap flights, if only at limited times and to limited places. That’s perhaps the first interesting part of going alone and not having a  plan, you don’t know where you might end up as you start poking around for a quick visit.

When I went abroad I often knew where I wanted to go but not how I was going to get there, usually it boiled down to hunting for the cheapest flights. To be honest, most of those occasions happened because I was inexperienced, travelling through sweden on a dark winters night hoping I recognised the name of my destination over mostly incomprehensible words is something I wouldn’t repeat but that’s where independence kicks in, you find a way and it feels good when you do.

Being alone as the study states, brings you a sense of self and calm, and that’s because you don’t have to worry about anybody else’s needs, you’re there because you chose to be and you have no company to fall back upon. That brings to mind scenes of rolling hills or huge mountains with which to travel, but I’ve always found cities offer a similar experience, if you’re abroad it might just be that you don’t understand the language or that the culture is so different that it brings to focus the things you enjoy or perhaps don’t appreciate back home.

It might even do the opposite, I know of many things that are just outright better abroad than at home, sometimes it’s small things like different architecture, or it could be larger cultural influences like open streets designed with pedestrians, cars, and cyclists in mind. Changes like that are a breath of fresh air and if you’re travelling abroad alone then these are the things you can take the time to enjoy.

Being alone can be scary but getting over that fear can make you a lot of friends, whilst it’s smart to be wary when travelling alone it’s often great to hear stories from groups of travelling friends or when the tables are turned make a friend out of a solo traveller and share in their experiences. Another news post recently brought to light the travels of a guy who managed to travel to every country in the whole world whilst keeping a job, his secret? A smile and friendly attitude, it brought him friends and places to stay for free, when you’re going abroad alone it’s that much easier to find places to stay.

All in all my experiences travelling alone have been fairly limited, mostly to large cities and the occasional rural place, but in all of them I’ve found a wealth of experience and joy that would have been completely different if not non existent had I gone with others. As any self help guide might lazily say, ‘find time for yourself and reap the benefits’, well if you’re going to commit to having time to yourself then why not do it somewhere new, somewhere refreshing and challenging! I’d recommend stepping away from relaxing places that offer nothing different to home, and finding somewhere unique, somewhere that might make a new you or put your idea of yourself into greater focus, it might be anywhere and I can bet you certainly won’t know where that place is until you stumble across it so get looking and get booking!

Links to help you on your way:

http://www.skyscanner.net/

http://www.kayak.co.uk/

https://www.couchsurfing.com/

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