A solo expedition is an overwhelming idea, especially if you’re used to traveling with your bestie. But, as everybody knows, it’s beneficial to step outside of your comfort zone every so often. Putting yourself in situations you find difficult, uncomfortable or stressful can only make you stronger, right? Plus, traveling alone has a ton of surprising perks – so you’ll undoubtedly return from your trip a better and more well-rounded person. As nerve-wracking as it might be at first, once you figure out awesome it is to travel unhindered, you’ll be planning your next solo adventure much sooner than you think. Traveling solo comes with a number of underrated perks and here are 6 of them:

1. Getting a hotel room all to yourself is a whole new level of awesome

Sure, it might be cheaper to split the cost of a room with your bestie, but it also means you never get any time to yourself. You might think it’ll be lonely in a hotel room alone, but you’ll soon realize it’s awesome. Sharing a room with someone messy, loud or distracting can unexpectedly turn a five star hotel into a dump. With a hotel room all to yourself, however, you can truly enjoy the high life and have it feel like the high life without any interruptions. The first time I stayed in a hotel alone was magical and it truly felt like a luxurious experience. You may as well splurge because I’m telling you, the perks of staying at a luxury hotel are unreal and everyone should do it at least once. Staying in a room alone means you get to relax, reflect, order room service – and just do whatever you feel like doing. There are certain conveniences to staying at a hotel alone, too. When I stayed at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica during peak season in California, a lounge chair by the pool was much easier to score if you were a party of one. The staff are nicer and more generous towards you when you travel alone, too, and that may or may not be because you’re more polite to staff when you’re a solo traveler. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your friend bringing randoms back to the room, nor will you feel uncomfortable if there happens to be someone you’d like to hook up with. You’ll have total privacy to do whatever you please.

2. You’ll actually get to taste and enjoy your food

There are definitely benefits of dining alone. More often than not, dinners abroad with your travel buddy will revolve around gossip or obligatory conversation. It’s understandable – you can’t ignore someone who’s across the table from you. Unfortunately, you end up getting distracted from what you’re tasting, smelling and devouring when you’re dining with a friend. When you’re traveling and discovering some of the world’s most amazing cuisine, it’s an absolute travesty if you don’t take the time to savour it properly. As a solo traveller you can truly taste every bite without anyone to distract you, which is important when you’re tasting delicious signature dishes from around the world. For example, Croatia is known for its incredible wine, and dining alone meant I got to smell and taste my wine instead of mindlessly drinking it while nodding my head to my bestie talking my ear off. On my solo trip, I was converted into being this huge fan of dining alone.

3. You’ll be more approachable and more opportunities will come your way

Traveling solo makes you super approachable – did you know that? You’ll meet so many more people and have so many more opportunities come your way solo compared to with a travel buddy. Everybody wants their traveling adventures to include getting to know locals and learning more about new cultures. But the reality is, when you’re traveling with a friend or in a group, you’re actually not that approachable. Being your own boss has a lot to do with the opportunities that come your way, too. Deciding to go off the beaten track with some locals might not be exactly what your travel partner had in mind, but going solo, not only can you visit wherever you want, with whoever you want.

4. You’ll discover how brave and capable you are

You’ll notice that traveling solo makes you more open-minded and a lot braver. You’ll also uncover this aptitude and capability you never knew existed within yourself. Use this solo adventure to say ‘yes’ and try everything. You’ll be proud of yourself in this beautiful and unexpected way. With no one telling you where to go and what to do, you can enjoy as many impulsive experiences as you like. Maybe you’ll discover that you’re an expert rock climber, a natural at surfing, a lover of hiking or a great Thai cook. There’s only one way to find out, and nobody’s holding you back.

5. You’ll have time to think about your life and be alone with your thoughts

Travelling all by your lonesome might seem a bit daunting, and the idea of not having one of your good friends to talk to even more so, but instead of fearing the silence you’ve got to embrace it. It’s not very often in life you can really be left alone with your thoughts, and what better time to re-evaluate a few things then when you’re under no obligation to engage in polite chit chat or give your energy to someone else? Self-reflecting leads to goal setting and self-betterment – so use this alone time wisely. You’ll be surprised at how much you value this time to yourself.

6. You’ll see more sights and travel for longer

Without having to abide by someone else’s schedule and preferences, you’ll find that you’ll see and do a lot more. Traveling alone gives you the time to experience more, and you’ll push yourself to do more things because you’re not playing follow-the-leader, you are the leader. You can wander the streets and check out cool cafes, boutiques and restaurants without anyone telling you “I don’t want to go there”. And you won’t be stuck in certain social situations because your friend wants to hang out with some people she met (and you feel you can’t leave her). Being a lone wolf means you can easily Houdini your way out of an uncomfortable situation unscathed. Traveling solo also means you can travel for as long as you want without worrying that a friend is expecting you to fly home with them. So if you want to take a side trip to London for the day, for example, you can leave your bags at a good St Pancras luggage storage, have an amazing adventure, and then go back to the original plan without having to check with anyone. Your bags will be waiting for you. You weren’t expecting traveling alone to be so great, but it truly is.

Erica Gordon is the author of the popular new dating advice book Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available for only $4.99 on Amazon, iBooks and on PDF here.

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