Admittedly, traveling on your own has its pros and cons; but for me, the former far outweigh the latter. Most importantly, when you travel solo you find out more about your own strengths and weaknesses. Not only is it an opportunity to rest your mind, but you also have a unique chance to discover your own self and realize your inner strength.
It makes you feel independent and flexible, and you understand the importance of making yourself happy in this life. The experience also teaches you how to be alone, and gives you the time and space to rest from the stress of your daily life.
Obviously, traveling with friends or family can also be fun, but it can sometimes be a disappointment. In solo traveling, you have your own experiences instead of shared ones. You don’t need to wait for a partner to pack their bags, you don’t need to negotiate the route for the trip, or discuss where to eat that day. You do things that you are interested in doing, eat where and when you wish. You are completely independent, and the control of the whole trip is in your hands.
Traveling on your own gives you the opportunity to be more open to your surroundings and explore new places without the prejudices and influence of another person to get in the way. When you are walking the streets of an unknown place, it is more likely to be a voyage of self-discovery and engagement with that place without the distraction of someone else. It is like conquering the world on your own.
Despite what the scaremongers say, traveling without friends or family is perfectly safe, and a great way to find out more about yourself.
This makes you a better observer of places and people around you and enables you to interact with your environment more easily. It makes you a better visitor, with more profound experiences and memories.
Of course, there are always scaremongers around who will tell you that traveling alone, especially for women, is not safe. Forbes published a report last month titled “10 Most Dangerous Places for Women Travelers.” Among countries such as Egypt, Morocco and India, it listed Turkey, because of the instability in the country in the past year. The report was an exaggeration, and an exercise in misperception. I have been to all these countries as a solo female traveler, and I have never experienced even a moment that could justify the warnings in that Forbes report. Every year I see many solo female travelers in Turkey, and they leave the country with wonderful memories.
The world we live in makes us more likely to be aggressive, stressful and intolerant. Without noticing, we are becoming more pessimistic as we hear more news of hatred, violence and instability every day. Escaping all the chaos of your daily life by traveling alone is a golden opportunity. It is your own experience, and a gift from you to yourself. Get the bags packed, take a trip and enjoy your own company.
• Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East.