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Ticket for one…are you ready?

At TIAA, we never want you to feel like you’re on your own when it comes to managing your finances. But, when it comes to traveling, it turns out that being on your own could make your experience even more incredible.

In a world where we’re constantly surrounded by friends and family—either physically or virtually—the idea of being on your own for an extended period of time can be a little scary. Going solo to dinner and a movie is one thing. But, hanging out all alone on the islands of Thailand or the mountains of Nepal for weeks at a time is a different story!

That said, if you’re lucky enough to have more time off than your friends or family, your trip to paradise might have to be a ticket for one. And (gasp) that’s ok!

Yes, being alone on your journey comes with obstacles that’ll test your limits, push you outside of your comfort zone and change the way you live your life. But none of that is a bad thing.

Still interested? Great! Because if you can overcome your fears, traveling alone is guaranteed to bring you some amazing experiences and lifelong benefits.

  • 1. Empowerment

    There’s immense power in proving how capable you are on your own. Whether it was the act of saving enough money for the trip, finally getting your passport photo taken, summiting a volcano in Bali, eating a fried cockroach in Cambodia, or navigating the buses in Vietnam—you did it, just you. You saw a challenge, an opportunity and maybe a bit of fear, yet stepped into it bravely, gaining new confidence and reassurance that’ll guide you through future hurdles.

  • 2. Connection

    Despite being solo, you’re never truly “alone” when traveling. Many times, being by yourself actually sets you up for new connections with curious locals or other solo travelers from around the world. Hostels are dynamic social spaces that encourage guests to get to know each other, share experiences, and even team up to split costs for excursions and transportation. Locals are always interested in foreign travelers and will be eager to talk to you, give advice or invite you to hop on the back of a scooter to explore their favorite spots. Good thing you’re alone because there’s only one seat open on that scooter!

  • 3. Freedom

    Imagine waking up with no agenda—no one waiting on you, depending on you or beckoning you. There you are, slowly enjoying a cup of coffee at a cafe you stumbled upon when you overhear someone discussing a hidden waterfall. Boom, your plans have changed and, for once, that’s ok! Traveling solo allows you to be a little selfish and honor those spontaneous gut instincts that, more often than not, result in a spectacular memory.

  • 4. Savings

    This one is a bit more on the practical side. But, since you’re not entertaining anyone but yourself on your solo adventure, it’ll be much easier to stay within a smart, daily budget.

Be prepared for some resistance

You’ll undoubtedly get some raised eyebrows when you tell friends, family and coworkers about your plans, especially if your destinations are a bit off the beaten path. While you should certainly share the benefits we just mentioned, we also have a few additional strategies to help reassure loved ones that this solo trip isn’t just safe, it’s an amazing idea.

  • Develop a high-level itinerary, especially if you’re planning to tackle multiple countries. Even if that plan changes (note “freedom” above), folks feel more secure when they know your general whereabouts.
  • Create a blog or use your social media accounts to share your adventure and invite them to follow along! Daily Instagram stories are a great way for people to see what you’re up to.
  • Tap into the many apps that offer free international texting, video or voice calls to keep in touch and establish a recurring “check-in” schedule. Once a week is fine (again, don’t forget that “freedom” thing).
“When traveling solo, every downside can be an upside if you have the right perspective.”
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It’s all about perspective

Maybe some drawbacks have started to cross your mind. Totally natural. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: when traveling solo, every downside can be an upside if you have the right perspective.

  • Boredom and loneliness can be very real, but don’t occur as often as you might think. Learn to savor the downtime and use it as an opportunity to journal, read a book, check in on your daily budget, research your next destination, or maybe just bask in a bit of silence and observe the sights and scents around you.
  • Getting lost is inevitable, but it’s always worth it! Embrace the uncertainty and excitement of getting around a strange place by yourself, even if it ends up taking longer to get to where you thought you were going. It may sound cliché, but a solo trip is all about the journey, not the destination.
  • Being on guard for your belongings at all times can get worrisome and exhausting, but if you don’t let the fear of having something stolen consume you, it’ll ultimately make you a smarter, more aware person. While traveling, you’ll quickly learn the critical items you’ll need to stay safe and get home: a passport or ID, visa (if necessary), some cash and a credit or debit card are a great start. As long as you keep track of these items, you can relax a bit about your favorite sunglasses.

Now you’re ready to go it alone!

Solo travel may not be for everyone, but if you bring along some solid planning, the right perspective, a courageous spirit, and some rose-colored shades to brighten up the view during any country’s “off-season,” we promise you—it’ll be life-changing. And don’t forget, we’re always here at TIAA.org to help you plan for any other life-changing events on your horizon!

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