In 2015, I started my “solo” trip to Mexico with a group of friends who decided to book a Spring break trip to Cancun through a terrible company. However, the difference for me was that when their 5-day vacation was over, I would continue the journey alone to three other cities. From the very beginning, it was apparent that even my first few days during Spring break in Cancun were going to be very different from those of my friends.
I’ve traveled with others before, and though it’s nice to share memories with people you love, it’s hard having to compromise your itinerary for what’s on theirs. “I paid money for this vacation, I should be able to do all the things I want while I’m here!” was a thought that occurred at least once while on vacation with friends. And so, I found myself wandering away from the crowd and doing my own thing anyway.
On this particular trip to Mexico, the amazing company that coordinated the package chose the worst airline possible, so not only was the flight delayed 5 hours, but they overbooked the plane. It was chaos at the gate with college kids crying, shouting, cursing, and fighting. So, in hopes of calming the crowd, the airline proposed a direct flight the following morning with 2 round-trip tickets anywhere they flew for future use. My friends were set on heading out that day, but I took the free flights and headed out the next morning on a plane with leg room and snacks. Definitely the better option.
When I finally got there the following afternoon, the party had just begun. Booze, foam, beds–it was as Spring break as it gets. Though the first day on the resort was fun, I was set on actually exploring Mexico. My friends, on the other hand, had no intention of leaving the resort for their entire stay. Without them I traveled to the local market on the public bus, bought a coconut for the water and then was advised by a local to have it cut open and add chili and lime (so of course, I did); explored a water park, and attempted scuba diving. Had I been too afraid to travel alone, I would’ve trapped myself in a resort that could’ve been in Florida for all I could tell.
For the rest of my trip, I asked locals how to get to various cities on bus, used airbnb to coordinate my accommodations (one being a shack in a garden for $10/night which I couldn’t have loved more), ate and partied where I saw mostly locals eating and partying, explored ancient ruins, and hung out with other travelers. So to summarize, this is why you’re better off traveling solo:
You spend money and time to coordinate the best trip for you. When you travel solo, there’s no negotiating your adventures
Meet New People
When you travel with friends, it doesn’t seem like you really need to meet other people. But when you travel solo, you’re bound to have questions or want to share experiences, so you’re forced to talk to other people. Whether that be locals, or travelers like you! Meeting new people adds a different perspective to your life.
Use Public Transportation
Splitting a private taxi might be easier when you have people to split it with, but when you have to pay $60 to the next city alone, you might look at alternative routes. You’ll get a more authentic travel experience and save some cash for a souvenir to remember your first experience as a solo traveler.
Learn the Language
When no one’s available to interpret for you, you’ll pick up words faster than taking a course! Communicating is a survival mechanism. You’ll adapt faster than you think.
After your first successful trip abroad, you’ll look back and realize all you’ve accomplished. You navigated, coordinated, communicated, and explored a foreign country. It isn’t easy, but it’s damn sure worth it. You’ll be nothing short of proud, and gain the confidence to know you can do it again.If you’re eager to set off on your own adventure, but need some help getting started, don’t worry! Lots of companies will allow you the flexibility and independence, while also providing in-country support. Companies like Maximo Nivel can help to provide accommodations, and schedule an itinerary based on your interests. Nothing wrong with some guidance as long as you get the experience YOU’RE seeking.
What’s your favorite/most challenging thing about travelling solo?
As originally published on onmogul