Five Strange and Unusual Benefits of Solo Travel

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Hammam Kate

There are so many incredible benefits to solo travel: you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. You develop incredible confidence. You can change your plans on a whim. It’s easier to interact with locals and learn the local language. You can take the trip of your dreams and be whomever you want to be without catering to anyone else.

These are some of the reasons why I adore traveling solo. As much as I enjoy traveling with my friends, you can’t beat the level of freedom you get from traveling on your own.

But there are some unusual benefits of solo travel as well — the ones that nobody talks about. Ones that I enjoy greatly. Here they are.

Kate at Jerash

1. Sightseeing at the Speed of Light

This is something I forget again and again — I’ll schedule three days in a city during a solo trip and find out I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in a day and a half. When I’m on my own, I fly through sightseeing because I don’t spend a second longer than I want to.

When you’re traveling on your own, you get to whittle down the activities down to only what you want to do, including skipping the popular sights if they don’t happen to appeal to you.

Traveling with someone else is a constant game of compromise, even in the most symbiotic of relationships. Even if you both want to visit the Louvre in Paris, odds are you won’t want to spend the exact same amount of time at the exact same works of art. And then there’s waiting for someone else to get ready in the morning.

Travel alone and you’ll be given the gift of time — which means you’ll be able to fit more destinations and activities into a trip without feeling like you’re making a sacrifice.

Colombo Street Food

2. Eating Healthy

The truth? The vast majority of travelers don’t make an effort to eat healthy while on the road. Many people see travel as an opportunity to indulge; foodies often prioritize the pleasure of food over health benefits. In short, the only people I’ve known to eat healthy consistently on the road are those who have long-established health and fitness habits.

I’ve tried to eat healthy while traveling with one or more companions, and it’s not easy. Discipline is one thing; discipline in the face of a group of friends chowing down on pizza is something else altogether. Especially if you’re trying to limit alcohol, as drinking’s such a social activity.

But if you’re determined to eat healthy, it’s so much easier to make decisions and stick to them when you’re traveling on your own. Whether you trade cappuccinos for sparkling water, go vegan or paleo for a week, or eat a big salad for a meal every day, it’s a million times easier to do so when you don’t have friends distracting you with their indulgences.

For what it’s worth, it’s easiest eating healthy somewhere like Japan, which has a more healthy food culture, or somewhere like the West Coast USA, with lots of healthy options. Good luck avoiding temptation in Italy!

Kate swimming in a Finnish lake

3. Surprise VIP Treatment

What happens if you’re the only one to sign up for a group tour or activity? You might inadvertently end up on a private tour despite paying a group tour price!

Sure, some companies might have minimum quotas to meet before running a tour, and some will charge you a bit more if you’re the only one, but occasionally you’ll get to enjoy a group tour as the sole customer.

That means that if it’s a surfing or rock-climbing lesson, you’ll have 100% of the instructor’s attention — you’ll learn so much faster. On a history- or art-oriented tour, you’ll be able to have an in-depth conversation with your guide instead of getting a group lecture. And if it’s a one-person-at-a-time activity like zip-lining, you’ll be able to hop from line to line without for everyone else to go!

Kate Smooches Fluffy

4. Reading Voraciously

If you don’t read as much as you used to but wish you could pick up the habit again, solo travel is the perfect opportunity! In my early solo travel days, I relied on used bookstores along the backpacker trail (and thus read quite a bit of Jodi Picoult); these days, I read whatever I want on my beloved Kindle Paperwhite.

When you travel with a companion, you’ll always be talking. When you’re on your own, you’ll have a lot of time to fill. And while you could spend it engrossed in your phone, scrolling through photos on Facebook, you could just as easily spend it reading a book.

When I travel solo, my Kindle is always by my side. Whenever I go out to eat, I try to stay away from my phone and spend the entire meal reading instead. Whenever I’m on (non-nauseating) transportation, I read for the entire journey. I love having a daily afternoon coffee break, and unless I’m wifi-deprived, I spend it reading.

When I’m traveling solo I often devour four, five, even six books in a month.

Kate with Hey Hot Guy! sign

5. Sex. Crazy sex. And lots of it.

We live in an incredibly sex-negative society — much more for women than for men. And while in a perfect world we wouldn’t care what people thought of our private sex lives, most of us do care, at least a little bit.

It holds a lot of women back, lest she be labeled a slut for enjoying herself sexually. And because of that, some women end up having mediocre sex for the rest of their lives.

However, traveling alone gives you the ultimate freedom to explore sexually. If you’d be worried about how people will react, you don’t need to — nobody here knows you! Between anonymity and being in a new destination, there’s no chance the guy you picked up at that bar happens to works with your cousin.

And if you use it as an opportunity to do something different — whether it’s hooking up with someone completely against your type or trying something you’ve always fantasized about but were too shy to do at home — you could end up laying the groundwork for a lifetime of amazing sex that you never would have discovered if you hadn’t traveled solo.

Take steps to protect yourself, both physically and emotionally, never be with anyone you don’t trust, and remember that no sex is ever 100% safe. Beyond that? Go have fun.

Best of all, you only have to tell people about it if you feel like it. If it sucks and you never want to think about it again, nobody will know! (AND if it’s amazing and you want to share it with the world or keep it a deliciously dirty secret, you go ahead and do that!)

Just don’t do it in a dorm. Everyone’s got a phone with video these days.

What unusual benefits have you gained from solo travel?

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140 thoughts on “Five Strange and Unusual Benefits of Solo Travel”

  1. I’d never thought about my eating habits when travelling solo, but now I think about it I was certainly healthier when I was travelling and exploring solo, preferring to grab a light bite when I was actually hungry than take a long lazy lunch with friends.

  2. You had me laughing out loud at the last one. Especially the dorm part. Thankfully I’ve been spared the dorm room sex my first two months of solo travel. And if you meet someone it is so easy to get a private room for a night or two!

  3. I love this! I work a very social job and live with my family (something of a Russian standard, but took adjusting to after 10 yrs of solo living in NYC and DC), so travels are my ultimate alone time. While I dont do much reading when traveling, I have definitely reaped the benefits of 1, 2, 3 and 5. Number 1 is my absolutely most important thing – I’m one of those people who pre-books a 9 am museum visit and stuffs 10 places/activities in a day. Selfish as it sounds, I do only want to see what I want to see, and do what I want and HOW I want to do it. When it comes to food, tho I am definitely an indulgent foodie, I know I need to balance it or I’ll run out of steam. Last year when I was in Crimea for over 2 weeks almost every night for dinner I has the exact same very basic salad – a double portion – at the same place. It was like a detox meal (with a shot of vodka 😉 ). No way would I convince any traveling partner to do this over and over. I had a boat all to myself for a sunset fishing cruise. And tho I definitely havent had as many hookups as I’ve liked while traveling (if I hit up museums at 9 am, I am tucked in bed, solo, by 10 pm every day, no pub crawls), I absolutely applaud you for encouraging sex-positive attitude among your female readership.

  4. I love being able to sightsee by myself. I think doing activities and long travel days are infinitely more fun with a travel buddy, but doing straightforward sightseeing is better alone. Especially at huge museums or temple complexes, I love being able to take a quick break to recharge whenever I like without worrying that I’m holding someone else up.

  5. While I admire how much you love solo travel (it’s what drew me to your blog in the first place!), I’ve learned it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s because I spend the entire day working alone from home that I’ve associated travel as my time for social interaction — preferably with people I know and love (in addition to the thrill of making new friends). Plus, my travel style is wholly laid-back and indecisive — the exact opposite of how I am at home. Here, I decide everything: from what colors we paint to what cabinets we re-use because I’m good at figuring out what will work for re-sale. So when we travel, I’m DONE with decisions. Done. So anyone I happen to be traveling with gets to decide everything, and I’m just along for the ride!

    1. Most of my travel has been solo, but when I went to Dublin, I was with a couple of friends who had spent significant time in the city. It was incredibly relaxing to let them lead me around and show me the sights. 🙂

  6. I especially enjoyed and agreed with what you said in #5, Kate. It’s just horrible how sex negative the society we live in is, and I agree, people should take any and every opportunity that works for them and does no (non-consensual) harm to anyone else to get pleasure.

  7. I completely agree with the first one. I have a friend that I just can’t travel with as she has to look at every little thing in a shop, needs 30 minutes to think about what to order in a restaurant and so on. She’s a good friend but I prefer to go on my own! 🙂

  8. Yes! I totally eat healthier as a solo traveller, especially as a vegetarian as I can eat where ever I want, therefore not simply having to eat the only, cheese-loaded veggie option!
    As a (sort of) married woman who sometimes travels solo, I can’t take advantage of #5 but well done you for positively highlighting it!

  9. Great blog post, Kate!

    Fearless. Insightful. Well-written.

    I admire the fact that you can travel alone. I love it too. I use the time for a lot of silent introspection – where I am going, where I have gone wrong, what great things I have – and then completely humble myself right at the end by stopping and seeing the amazing thing around me as a whole.

    The Gap of Dunloe in Ireland is a great example.

    Keep up the great writing! (You little vixen, you lol)

    1. I appreciate that greatly, Mikey. 🙂 And I agree that the introspection is one of the great gifts of travel. My time on Ometepe in Nicaragua was a great introspective destination for me recently.

  10. I complete agree with your philosophy about sex. Women aren’t looked at as much of how to get pleasure during sex. They aren’t encouraged to explore, in whatever manner, and enjoy it. I believe it’s healthy and feminist for women to take control of their sexuality. Many women don’t even know what they like and considering our bodies are made for it, that’s just sad.

    1. And I guess I should mention, I would never have sex with a stranger, even on the road. Not my scene. But I fully support a healthy attitude towards sex. A do what you feel safe and want to do attitude. Of course it can be dangerous in many ways, women need to set their own safety boundaries. Which is a given in the world.

  11. I love traveling alone and enjoy the space I get to see everything at my own pace without any distractions.i have mostly disliked the food in the countries I have traveled to, (except Asia)..the food in Asia is so different, very fresh and spicy as compared to the carbs and chemicals here in Europe. The heat in Asia means I will be drinking lots of water which really makes my system feel good after a journey to the East.
    About No) 5..that went me into major cringe mode…I guess I’m too conservative to roll in the sack with someone I’ve just met on the road and will not see again..yeah there are condoms and what not, but I consider sex sacred in a spiritual sort of way, and wouldn’t want to deal with soul ties or transference of all sorts of spirits from someone I’ve just met. Traveling is already a stressful experience and to have sex while someone random is just a no go..so many what ifs pop up, I always see strange guys as potential hijackers or murderers and women traveling solo should always just be careful. It’s always a signal to run when someone in a foreign and begins to leer suggestively at me..but that’s just me..no go zone..cringe mode to the max..

    1. Fair play, Caroline. Every woman has to stick to her own personal comfort level. I know many women who wouldn’t have sex with someone they weren’t in love with; I also know many women who would love having sex with someone nice they’re attracted to. Everyone is different and has to make the decision best for her personally.

  12. <3 LOVE this Kate! Thanks. 10000% right. Traveling solo is such a rewarding experience. I thought I was going to be lonely, scared, and bored the whole time, but it's essentially the exact opposite! And yes…Yes x10000 on the last point. I haven't been with an American guys since I left the USA 4 years ago and I intend to stay on that path! I love me Euro, South Am, and Aussie guys! hahaha

  13. this is amazing!!!!!! my husband and i travel a ton together so it was fascinating and amazing to read all about the perks of traveling solo. the time thing is a big one when you’re traveling with someone and yay you for bringing a sex-positive light to this too (but no dorm rooms)

  14. Numbers 1 & 5, hell yes! 1 because I am an impatient only child who hates waiting for slow people lol. I like doing what I want when I want, every time I’ve traveled with someone else they always want to stay somewhere that I am completely bored by and they get bored in museums that i could spend all day in. Number 5, because, well if you can’t ho it up on the road, when can you? Even though I’m generally very sex positive throughout my life anyway (all the shit we get up to in bed seems like all my girlfriends and I talk about when I’m home!), variety is the spice of life and I definitely have a soft spot for a sexy English or Aussie accent. Although I’ve definitely fallen “victim” to the dorm room sex a few times … Sometimes you just need a bed and can’t boogie in the shared dorm toilet any longer lol.

      1. Ha! Ha! Be careful what you wish for Kate. I have witnessed dorm sex, and it wasn’t all that pleasant as the two people hooking up were doing so on my bed!

        I didn’t know where to look and being British, I couldn’t interrupt them so I just hopped onto somebody elses’ bed and crossed my fingers LOL! Oh yes, it was about 3 a.m. In Prague!

  15. This is lovely and summed up all that I felt when I travelled solo to France and UK last year. I covered practically ALL the spots worth seeing in Paris in a span of three days and that crazy pace would just not have been possible if I’d had someone else along. What’s more, I returned home several pounds lighter; looking toned and slim thanks to the meagre diet and frenetic activity during my holiday. I ate only when hungry – no leisurely meals except for the couple of times when I met local friends. And number five – well, my lips are sealed!

  16. I agree with Caroline on #5… Why treat it as just another activity to enjoy with strangers? And how much can you really trust a man to go HOME with him on a short trip? I’d say women have to be a little more careful than men. And consider the spiritual side of sex. You may be able to deal intellectually with the act but there are other things you can’t control, and you’re sharing your energy in an intimate way with someone when you have sex. Anyway…. Yeah. I’d say traveling is when to be extra cautious and on guard about sex….

      1. I tried to post a response from the road but I don’t think it made it. Panama does not have the greatest internet connection or cell phone service in areas.

        Comfort level isn’t the thing. It’s being wise with decisions. I just shared a hostel room with a guy I met on couchsurfing.org, for the last 4 days. He’s great and I would have been comfortable having sex with him. BUT, you have to consider many things other than what you feel in one moment. Weighing everything, it did not see a wise decision. Yes, there is excitement with new people, and most of us fall for that at least once in our lives… new experiences with attractive people…. but I think we ought to respect each other more than this, and respect the life-giving, soul-touching act that is sex. I’ve made mistakes (and will probably continue to) and learned from them, and know what can happen when you are too casual with sex. I wouldn’t discourage someone from falling in love and making deep connections while traveling, but I wouldn’t encourage them to jump into bed with people they barely know…. just because they’re “exotic” to you… the advice would be the same at home or traveling. We aren’t truly living up to our greatest potential, our most loving selves, our wisest selves, and treating others as the other little sparks of God that we all are, when we treat them as temporary pleasure providers. I like to make others feel loved, make them feel good, but we have to be wise with our decisions surrounding sex. There are reasons it’s so important in so many religions and spiritual practices. We are truly abusing it’s power when we treat it as lightly as using a toilet or eating a snack.

        1. 100% agree with you Kendal. I somehow value myself in this way. I cannot do sex without emotional connection

  17. I can definitely relate! I generally travel solo, and it is so much easier to sightsee in a shorter amount of time. I love traveling with family/friends when I get the chance to do so, but it can take awhile to do pretty much any activity – getting dressed, deciding on what to do that day, deciding on a place to have dinner, and so on.

    Also, yes to eating more healthily when I’m solo. I also tend to drink less and spend less money when I’m alone. If I’m with friends or family, I’m more likely to drink quite a bit and eat more lavish dinners.

  18. I’ve never been able to experience #5 due to a long term relationship but I am so happy you are sex-positive. I don’t know if I could ever do that, for some reason I cannot have sex with a stranger. I feel attraction after knowing someone but props to those of you who can! If it’s anything like vacation sex with a partner, you’re in for a treat!

  19. I agree with you in many ways. I love traveling solo. I can change destinations anytime, stay at places as long as I want, meet new people, fall in “love”, it’s complete freedom.
    Question for you. I believe you been to many blog fairs or seminars. Anyone you could suggest?
    Best
    Robson

  20. I think I am my own worst enemy when it comes to eating healthy but during my 3 1/2 months of solo travel this year I am going to make a concerted effort to try harder. I definitely think I will get a lot more reading done travelling by myself but unfortunately as I will have a fiance back at home, 5 doesn’t apply to me this time around 🙂

  21. This is definitely a good list. I do things so much faster on my own! I met up with some friend and traveled with them for awhile but I actually missed being on my own a bit. Solo travel is awesome and if people had sex in the dorms I would probably just throw things at them. Gross.

  22. Thank you so much for sharing this! I went on a recent trip with a good friend to Peru and there were so many problems (many of them you had pointed out above). This trip almost cost us our friendship. Thank you for pointing out the advantages of solo travel. I am not sure if I will ever travel with friends again.

    1. It’s all about finding someone who would be a good travel partner, which is completely different from a good friend. My friends and I would kill each other if I took them backpacking in the developing world. But we love going to Vegas together!

      Two of my good friends from my first trip to Asia, Chris and John, were actually friends of friends, not friends themselves, and they decided to travel together and got along great.

  23. Love my wife and I can’t wait to take a trip one day with the kids but my favorite trip will probably always be when I jumped on a plane to India all by myself.

    I did so much and i felt so great. Nothing matches it.

    Unfortunately, from what has gone on the last few years, a woman need to be REALLY careful doing solo travel in India 🙁

  24. Yes to all of these! I do what I want when I travel solo, and don’t feel bad for not doing something that really doesn’t interest me. When I’m alone, there’s a 90% chance that anything involving heights won’t feature on my itinerary, for example. I don’t have to scare myself silly just to satisfy what someone else wants to see or do!

    As for eating healthy, I’m much better at doing it when I travel alone. Every partner I’ve had has been the I-eat-what-I-want-don’t-work-out-and-yet-somehow-stay-in-shape type, whereas I’m the I-sniffed-a-cake-and-gained-1lb type.Much easier when I travel alone.

    And as for the sex part. Yes. That’s all.

  25. All of these (although I haven’t personally experienced the last one)! I read SO much when I was in Europe, and I’ve kept all the books that I bought when I ran out of reading material; looking for bookstores in places like Valencia and Vienna was a really fun way to explore the city. I also always did sightseeing incredibly quickly, because I would always rather sit with a coffee or something and a book and watch the city go by, than go to museums. 🙂

  26. I am just about to head off for my own travels and totally agree with the benefits of travelling alone, you just have so much freedom to do the things you want to see and do. I think its also good to have that time to yourself to “discover” more about you and the world around you. Great post keep em coming.

  27. Hi,

    I totally agree, especialy no 1 and 4, the opposite is also true 1, if you want to chill and do nothing for a bit, it’s easier if you’re not traveling with someone who wants to keep going all the time! And it’s possibly cheaper, as you only pay for the things you want to, rather than compromising while traveling with a friend in a higher budget!

    I love no 5! and I’m sure someone had sex in the bunk above me in a dorm room once. Not cool. I didn’t know if I should rock with the rhythm or go against it! I still managed to fall asleep though!

    Gemma

  28. Yes, I hosted lot of solo female travelers via couchsurfing, I understand lof ot your points, some of them stayed even with me as relationship, it happes, some of them wanted just sex, some just companionship, it’s all about them, I just take care to get the right point what they want and to have fair for both sides.

  29. Hi there, I really enjoyed reading your past updates and most recent post 🙂 I was recommended your blog by transient20s. I have just started on WordPress since I am just beginning my travels – not only to keep my own recording of the journey, but also to read other people’s recommendations and insights. Some of the stuff I have read so far is great and I would love if you had any other recommended bloggers etc for me to follow? I am 23 and my first post lists the places I will be visiting. Thank you! Rebecca x

  30. What a great article! As a solo traveler, I totally agree with all five points myself. I also like that I can set my own pace. I usually end choosing my next city by standing at the ticket booth of the train station picking where to go next. Another great benefit of traveling solo is being to meeting new people each day and spending the day (or night) with them, and not have to worry about giving another person you are traveling with you attention. I have met very few people who travel the exact same way that I do (I did meet one), and I don’t think I could stand traveling with the same person more more than a few days. Sometimes it’s nice to just have my “me” time!

  31. Eating Healthy is easy especially in Asia. If you want to get cheap food, you live like locals. And locals tend to eat quite healthy (but spicy) food, so the problem kind of solves itself out. =)

  32. Being a fellow solo female traveller I was enjoying your post, reading along going oh yeah, that happens to me! Isn’t it awesome!? Then I got to the last one. Tbh, I’m not one to run off to another country and act totally different than I do at home but can appreciate what you’re saying. Also, I love that you have the bravary to write it publicly! Good on you! 🙂

  33. León, Nicaragua: 233 shares in total
    Corn Island: 425 shares in total
    “Did she mention sex in there somewhere?” 1,332 shares and counting.

    Good move, Kate :).

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