Women who tell their friends that they’ll be traveling alone often receive strange and concerned looks, as if they’ve just announced that they’ll be backpacking to the twilight zone with little green men in designer clothes, but considering that we live in the 21st century, shouldn’t traveling alone be less surprising and more the norm?

Apparently not. TIME.com writer Ashley Ross admits that even her more forward-thinking friends have questioned her decision to travel to Mexico on her own.

“My trip wasn’t even as courageous as it could have been—after all, I wasn’t truly by myself, at least not once I arrived in the small town of Puerto Morelos,” she writes. “I booked a weeklong yoga retreat through The Travel Yogi, a company that creates adventurous albeit relaxing yoga retreats all over the world. I didn’t have the typical concerns of finding a hostel or making friends, but still people who learned my plans seemed baffled.”

Ross shares that her friends looked like they actually felt bad for her, not necessarily because she was going at it alone, but because it seemed like she didn’t have anyone to travel with.

But is having a travel buddy really all that great? Despite getting her car stuck between two medieval walls after a false turn, being alone and her phone dead, award-winning travel writer and 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go author Marcia DeSanctis wouldn’t want it any other way. “It’s easier to get absorbed in an unfamiliar landscape when solo, reliant on no one and vice versa.”

Need more reasons to travel solo? Read on!

1. There’s no one to bicker with.
“Much as I love my family and crave the company of my friends, companionship on the road is often not worth the trouble,” shares De Sanctis. When you’re on your own, you don’t have to take anyone else’s needs and wants into consideration. If you want to stop and rest for the night, no one will be telling you that you’re wasting time.

2. But you’re never alone.

Afraid that you’ll have nothing to do once you get to your destination? Ross asked herself the same thing and realized that she’d “be meeting locals and eating dollar vegan tacos, watching men chop open coconuts with machetes to make fresh coconut water, getting massages on the beach, snorkeling with barracudas and lobsters and eels, diving into freshwater caves, spotting spider monkeys in trees, reading in a rooftop hammock, sipping micheladas on a regular basis and making incredible new friends.” So being afraid of being alone—not possible!

3. You become more in touch with yourself.

In real life, you play a role. You’re a mother, a daughter, an employee, or a boss. When you’re traveling on your own, however, you are nothing but a traveler. DeSanctis calls it the opposite of loneliness. “This was freedom itself.”

Thinking of traveling alone? Always prioritize your safety. Keep your eyes peeled for trouble and don’t attract any unnecessary attention to yourself.

PHOTO: Daniel Foster/Flickr Creative Commons

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