Friday, 13 October 2017

Blogtober Day 13 - Why I love travelling solo

For years, I travelled alone to other cities in the UK - particularly London - a lot. Then last year I went on holiday to Italy by myself and visited three different cities (well, four, technically) - Venice, Florence, Milan, and Bergamo. I had such a good time by myself and I can't wait to go away by myself sometime again, as soon as possible.

The most notable thing about travelling by yourself is the freedom. You don't have to visit anywhere you're not 100% keen on, you can spend hours in a bookshop or just wandering the streets. When I went to Italy, I hadn't planned on spending much time at all in Milan aside from seeing the Cathedral before catching a train back to Bergamo (which looked a lovely place and was where I was flying out from). When I got to Milan, I discovered I loved it. I'd been told it was nothing like the rest of Italy and that it was very industrial - and it really wasn't like the other cities I'd been to. It reminded me much more of Paris than Rome, and I could have spent days wandering around it. I was free to put off my train and spend more time in Milan, and nobody else had a say.

If you want to go into that little sandwich shop for lunch instead of the restaurant you'd scouted out on Tripadvisor, you can do that. If you want to have gelato for every meal, you can do that. If you don't really want to visit the biggest tourist attraction, you don't have to. The only person you have to answer to about your plans is yourself.

You've also got more freedom in deciding where you want to stay. You have only your budget and comfort considerations to take into account. If you're travelling with a group and one person wants four star hotels and someone else only has the budget for hostels, you're in bother. Alone - if cost if your priority you can stay in dorm rooms all you like (and I did!). If you want to stay in the nice hotels, do it!

I was worried that I'd get lonely when I was travelling by myself, but I didn't. I found instead that it was easy to meet new people and other travellers - on walking tours or in the hostel, for example. Being by yourself encourages you to put yourself out more and talk to new people in a way that travelling with others doesn't, because if you're by yourself you're easier to approach and if you're with other people you'll tend to stick to and talk to them.

I found travelling by myself really peaceful. I'm an introvert and I like quiet and need time alone to unwind. When you travel by yourself, you know that you're going to be spending a lot of time alone, even if you are trying to meet people. I spent a lot of time exploring, lingering in bookshops or over gelato, taking my time setting up and taking photos, and it was great.

And then there are other benefits. If you're by yourself, especially in a country with a language barrier, you learn to rely on yourself more. You figure out the Italian train system, because you have to. You find your way through the maze of streets that is Venice, because you have to. You learn that eating alone in restaurants is no big deal, because you have to. It's a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and grow as a person. You come back home a more confident person, because you've put yourself out there and succeeded.

I love going to new places with my friends and family, but travelling solo will always have a place in my life.

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