Boston Hotels Blog

June 4, 2010

The pros and cons of traveling alone

Traveling alone gives you the ultimate freedom to do exactly as you please. You don’t have to abide by anyone else’s schedule or make compromises about where to go or what to do. It is often easier to book one seat on a flight or train, one bed in a youth hostel, or one ticket to an event. You also get be gloriously self-indulgent: if you want to spend half an hour gazing at a painting in the Louvre, or examining a sarcophagus in the British Museum, you can do it. There’s no one tugging on your elbow demanding to go, no annoyed companion to appease.

However, I think the greatest advantage of traveling alone is that it affords the most incredible opportunity to meet people, and thereby leads to serendipitous adventures.

Traveling alone is definitely not for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable being on your own in unfamiliar places and prefer to have everything scheduled and planned out ahead of time, then it’s probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are an independent, adventurous person who thinks for yourself, enjoys a challenge, and are willing to go with the flow even when the flow makes a surprising change of course, then there is nothing like it. .

I traveled alone around the world when I was in my 20s, and it was truly one of the high points of my life. I met any number of amazing people, many of whom took me sightseeing, opened their homes to me, and went out of their way to help me.

My world tour began on a Green Tortoise bus trip from San Francisco to Boston. On the bus I met a girl my age from Germany, on her way home after a lengthy stay in Canada and the US. She invited me to come and visit her when I got to Germany, which I did. I had a wonderful time, since I was with a local who showed me around, introduced me to her friends and gave me a genuine feel for what it is like to live there instead of a sterile tourist’s survey.

Over the course of several months, I roamed all over Europe, India and New Zealand, and ended up in some places I never would have dreamed of, had I not been traveling alone.

On my way out of Vienna, I met an Austrian boy who was going to Greece. He described the wonders of the Greek Isles, and asked me to accompany him. Although I had no prior plans to go to Greece, I thought, why not? Getting there involved hitchhiking all the way through what was then Yugoslavia, an adventure in itself. When we got to Greece, we scaled Mount Olympus and then spent several days camping on the beach on the idyllic

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