While traveling alone can be challenging and daunting, personal growth often happens in solitude. It can be invigorating, inspiring and just plain refreshing—so refreshing that we think everyone should do it at least once. Here are our top five reasons you should travel solo followed by some tips to get started.

  1. Do what you want, when you want. You get to do exactly what you’ve set out to do. No negotiations or comprises. You have the right to live on your own terms because no one knows who you are, expects anything from you nor cares what you’ve done. The gift that keeps on giving, traveling solo grants the permission to create your own agenda.
  2. Follow your instincts. You’ll practice listening to your inner voice and exploring what it has to say. Have you wanted to spend a few months as a yoga instructor, an artist-in-residence or a musician? Now is the time to act on those instincts & live without fear of reprimand. Go ahead, no one is watching.
  3. Enjoy solitude. When you’re alone, you get the chance to learn more about who you are & how you face adversity and stress. Often times, without travel companions, you tend to deal with problems differently than you would if you had your cadre of close friends nearby. During your moments of solitude, you can begin to plan for your future or choose to focus on the present.
  4. Reset. If you’re looking to get your creative juices flowing or are on the hunt for inspiration, traveling solo is exactly what you need. You begin to see things through the perspective of others which in turn, leaves room for new and fresh ideas. These observations can serve as catalysts for solving problems that may have stumped you while at home.
  5. You get to reflect. Perhaps one of travel’s greatest gifts. On buses, in trains, on planes and the like, you get to really soak in what travelers often talk about with immense nostalgia. The feeling of being lost, yet found.

To start planning a solo trip, think about why you’d like to travel alone. Do you want a change of scenery? Get started by taking a train ride to a nearby city and exploring for a day. Do you need some alone time? Get a head start by heading to a museum, booking a tour or extending your current trip by a few days to continue exploring areas of interest.

If you’re afraid that you’ll be lonely while traveling, test the waters a bit. Everyone reacts to solitude differently. Head to a movie by yourself or eat at a nearby restaurant. If you’re worried that you’ll get lost or won’t be able to meet people, make sure you bring a map & research areas before hand. Meeting people is all about timing. Try using Meetup to meet with locals who share the same interest.

A joint piece curated by Joke Karibo & Zim Ugochukwu.