08/01/2014 11:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Four Reasons Your Next Vacation Should Be a Solo One

Are those frequent-flyer miles burning a hole in your pocket? It's time for a trip. And whether you've got just enough vacation days left to squeeze in a 48-hour getaway or you're giving that nine-to-five a big middle finger before heading off to another country for the indefinite future, you really ought to consider going it alone.

Come on, you can do it! You've got at least one old college buddy who's ventured out into the wild blue yonder solo -- and if they can manage to dine alone or learn how to say "Sorry, I don't speak German" in, well, German, then you can, too. Here's a little encouragement for those among us who are feeling a little YOLO but are scared to take the plunge.

[Photo via Austin Localeur Cate Smithson]

1. Because anonymity rules

You know who knows you in Vancouver? No one, that's who. So there's really nothing stopping you from being your truest self (or trying on another personality for a day). Maybe you'll strike up a conversation with an attractive stranger at a bar; maybe you'll brave a trip to the corner pot dispensary. Whatever you do, you'll do it knowing it won't follow you home. Don't get any ideas -- we're not advocating a crime spree here -- just take the opportunity to be authentic without worrying about the real-life repercussions for once.

2. Because your itinerary is yours and yours alone

Admit it. You hate museums. You want to like them, but 20 minutes in, you realize you've spent two cocktails' worth of cash on a trip to a chilly room full of tourists keen on gawking at something that makes you think, "That?! I could have painted that." You do you! When traveling alone, you call the shots -- and that means whatever you want it to mean. Feel like walking around aimlessly with nothing but your earbuds for an hour before bed? Go for it. Not much enjoying the Spanish lessons you signed up to take? Play hooky. We won't judge.

Traveling without your significant other can be a valuable experience.

3. Because you could use a break from your significant other

It's not that taking a vacation with your better half isn't a vacation -- it's just that when you get back home, you sometimes find you could use a vacation from their constant presence, right? Traveling alone will make you happy to get back to them (and they'll probably be so miserable back in the real world without you, wondering if you're OK and whether someone new is vying for your affection, that your homecoming will be particularly rewarding). Strategy, people!

4. Because you can

Like it or not, your days as a one-man (or woman) wolf pack are numbered. If you're not saddled with a mortgage, a child, or a can't-even-think-about-taking-a-day-off job already, you will be before you know it. You deserve to get to know yourself as an individual while you still can. And while solo travel can be challenging, expensive, or downright terrifying, it's guaranteed to make you a stronger and more well-rounded individual. You'd be amazed at how much mental-health progress you can make just by taking the time to be alone in a new environment. Experience, excitement, growth -- isn't that really what travel is all about?