12/10/2010 02:49 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

7 Transformative Solo Trips

For a new kind of travel experience, try leaving some baggage at home: your friends. "Traveling alone brings a more pure relationship with the natural world and with oneself," says Nathaniel Stone, who spent 10 months single handedly rowing 6000 miles around the Eastern United States, a journey he describes in his book On the Water. "By the time you've spent even a week by yourself, you've got a very clear sense of who you are."

Given a choice, most of us would travel with friends. It feels safer, less lonely. But while the risks are greater without a buffer of companions, so are the rewards. You enjoy perfect freedom of thought and movement, a steeling of self-reliance, and an ability to connect more intensely. Change happens to you in ways you can't control; a few days alone can have the same impact as a week's vacation with friends. It's something every man should do it at least once in his lifetime.

Stone says he craves solitude -- "I don't dilute the world with my chatter; I'd happily go an entire day without saying a word" -- but he's no misanthrope. Ironically, one of the advantages Stone most valued was meeting people. "There was one day in 300 that I didn't shake someone's hand," he says. "I can't imagine it would have been as easy if I'd had company."

If you're ready to go it alone, here are seven unforgettable solo trips.

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