Solo Travel Benefits
I’ve always enjoyed traveling alone. My relationship with solo travel began at a young age. I vividly remember flying on Southwest across Texas as an unaccompanied minor to visit my much-older brother. My solo travel probably peaked during my bachelor and newlywed years. After a few years of solo travel dormancy, I go it alone every several months. Doing so has been like getting together with an old friend and remembering why it’s so special. I just got back from a one-night trip out west to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the McCartney show. During this trip and other recent ones, I’ve been reflecting more on what makes traveling alone a worthy endeavor. These are my favorite solo travel benefits – some more widely applicable than others.
It’s All About Me
I’ll start with an easy one. I can selfishly pick the activities, dining, hotels, and travel method I prefer. As much as I enjoy family vacations, there are varying levels of interest in certain activities. Participating in the touring priorities of others is part of being a considerate member of the family unit. In turn, I may choose to lead an outing to a location others aren’t as excited for. But at a certain point, I know I should save certain stuff for a solo trip.
For instance, after watching the The World at War, I wanted to visit the Imperial War Museum in London. There’s no way family would tolerate going there for a full day, much less the three I had planned. Going alone on that trip was an easy decision.
I enjoy connecting with new people and places when traveling alone. My wife and I have taken Amtrak across the country and loved it. While she enjoyed the experience, I was even more enamored. I decided to take a trip on the California Zephyr the following year, and she encouraged me to go solo.
Sitting with new people at every meal isn’t for everyone, but the random discussions and stories I’d hear from other travelers were priceless. I remember talking to an old guy wearing an engineer hat while taking a train to, you guessed it, a model train convention. I was intrigued by a foreigner visiting the US for the first time, traveling across the States and seeing views many locals haven’t.
More recently, it was the traveler sitting next to me in the Las Vegas Centurion Lounge. Somehow, we ended up talking about dogs for about an hour. I knew I wouldn’t see these people again, but it was enlightening to obtain just a glimpse of their experiences. I find myself connecting more with places and experiences, as well. Just recently, I had a grand time doing this in Asheville.
Another solo travel benefit I value is what I’ll call surreal, divine disconnection. I naturally feel this most on road trips and maybe a bit on train travels. Whether it’s in transit or at destinations, quietly taking in the natural surroundings without any distractions is a form of meditation for me. The same goes for the quiet en route to my destination. I’ve caught myself not saying a single word to anyone, not even myself, for several hours. Try it some time – it’s delightful.
Loose Planning, At Best
My solo travels usually involve a priority goal, but I ensure not to pack too many plans into a given trip. I need to leave room for those happy accidents and random turns for discovery. I can’t fully know all of what’s possible at a given destination by simply reading a travel book or online content. Identifying those experiences in the moment, at the location is part of the wonder of travel, in my view. And naturally, I don’t have to put as much advance planning into solo trips.
Random Hobby Tinkering
Many in the points hobby know that certain plays work in one location but not another. A regional grocery store chain enables a play that simply isn’t an option back home. Another store offers an item at an amount or capacity I can’t otherwise obtain. Unlike the few who take the hobby extremely seriously, I won’t travel to a destination for a specific play. But if I can participate in the hobby in a way I can’t from home, I’ll take advantage of that during the trip as a side benefit.
Commanding The Hotel Thermostat
I’ve loved cold hotel rooms since I was a kid. Super cold. Growing up in a generally-hot climate, I loved the frigid air immediately hitting my face moments after simply pressing a button. Almost as equally, I enjoy the unending drone from the unit cooling the room. My family travel companions aren’t as big fans. So I’ll keep enjoying this on solo trips. Weird, I know. But it’s me.
I don’t want to overdo it. Too many solo trips would get old. More importantly, I’d be a subpar husband and father. So I’ll take my few, quick solo trips a year and enjoy them for what they are. And all the mistakes I make along the way I’ll ensure not to repeat on family trips. What are your favorite solo travel benefits?