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6 reasons why you should travel on your own

31st July 2014
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Solo travel. Yes, it might seem terrifying at first – the world is a big old place full of crazy people, after all – but let’s be honest: the best things in life are terrifying (and the best people are probably crazy, we might add.)

There’s no escaping the fact that your best memories are going to be the ones that remind you of the times you took a risk that paid off, rather than the 99% of other times that you played it safe.

We’re right, and you know it.

Here are a few reasons why travelling alone is good for your soul, as well as some tips on how you should go about planning for it.

1. Get over your fear of being alone/doing things for yourself

One of the harsh truths that you’re about to have thrust upon your vaguely terrified post-university self is that the ability to just get things done without any help is absolutely invaluable. Independence is key, and you learn this from all aspects of solo travel – from eating pizza alone in a restaurant to making sure you’ve navigated the airport in time for your flight to the next wondrous place on your itinerary. Responsibility, in bucket loads. There’s no better way to learn it than fending for yourself on the other side of the world.









2. Meet likeminded people, who are also travelling on their own

The inclusivity of 99% of people you’ll meet abroad (whether it’s locals or fellow travellers) is the one thing that will make you want to keep jetting off again and again. You don’t need to go completely alone - if you start your travels on an organised trip (like this one from Contiki) you’re pretty much guaranteed to find 20-odd other people who are all starting their solo adventure too, and will be right on board with any exploring that you want to do - wherever your ship pitches.

It’s also worth remembering that people are often much more enthusiastic when around strangers – meaning you’re likely to have more comfort zone-breaking experiences (kayaking down a waterfall Why WOULDN’T I be up for that?!?) than you would if you were with your usual, homely group.









3. Find the hidden places that you’d never discover if you were in a group

So you’re meandering idly through the cobbled streets of a city you’ve never visited before, when suddenly you hear a faint bit of music and have the overwhelming urge to head off on an adventure down that random side street. When you do you encounter a man with a comedy accent who gives you free breadsticks and espresso before directing you towards a secret underground flea market that the locals usually keep fiercely to themselves. When you’re there you find a gargantuan amount of food stalls, all offering tasty delicacies for no more than a couple of pence, and then...

OK, back to reality. How much more likely is that to happen if you’re on your own, rather than if you’re having to justify your wanderings to a group of friends who might be more concerned with tracking down the nearest chain bar? Answer: much more likely.









4. Get inspired to go further

Spent a week in Thailand, but felt like you missed out on the culture because you couldn’t see past the giant McDonalds and 18-year-old full moon-partying British kids? Well you might want to try Vietnam, next, for real Southeast Asian immersion. It’s a no brainer that once you’ve got the travel bug, it just keeps on building as you find yourself deeper and deeper into a culture. For all the reasons listed here this, of course, is a good thing.

Also, on a trip that visits a few places – for example Contiki’s Big Indochina Adventure, which takes in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – you’re going to see geographically similar countries with a new cultural perspective at every turn... and you can’t put a price on that.









5. Have time to think about the things that are important

During term time, when your life consists of coursework deadlines, juggling part-time jobs and endless lectures, your view of what’s actually important might become somewhat skewed. Once exams are over and the stress is banished for a few months, though, you’ve got time to really unwind – and the best way to do that might be heading off sans all those people you’ve spent the last ten months agonising over revision with, and meeting some new people instead. That’s what life’s about, isn’t it?









6. Remember that this might be your last chance for a while

Once you have a job, your travel time will be restricted to the odd week or two that you get signed off by your manager, and you’ll have a million things to do both before you leave and once you get back to remind you that you probably shouldn’t have dared go away in the first place.

Whilst you’re still a student, though, time lasts so much longer. Three months of summer. And, after graduation, all the time in the world to do whatever you like before you have to think about responsibility. Use it wisely (i.e., abroad, sailing, kayaking, dancing) – and don’t rely on anyone else to validate your plans because, newsflash, they’re yours.









So - how can you start your solo travel adventure, without letting the big questions – how long for? How much will it cost? Most of all, where on Earth should you go? – get on top of you?

Whether you’re planning a year of travel or just a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to start out with an organised tour so that you can get your bearings and ease yourself into travelling without throwing yourself in at the metaphorical deep end.

The benefits are undeniable:  a group of fellow travellers, the vast majority of whom will also be on their own, offering readymade companions for wherever you decide to jet off to afterwards, an experienced Tour Manager who will be able to advise you on the best places to eat and sites to track down – and of course the fact that you won’t have to plan every journey and every detail, straightaway.

Contiki Holidays offers hundreds of itineraries across the world, from Canada to Croatia to China, where the above come as standard.

So.  Accept that you don’t always need to be in contact, that constant updates via social media don’t matter, and that sometimes the very best adventures happen when no one else is there to see them. These memories are unique and belong to no one else. Embrace them!  

Follow Contiki on twiiter @contikiuk and via the hashtag #NoRegrets

If you've been on a Contiki trip and want to share your experiences, check out - you could see your memories turned into a film, and might even win another adventure with Contiki!

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