Over the last few years, I've travelled to various different countries, mostly with other people. It is definitely fun to share new experiences with a group, supporting each other when you struggle and making memories together.
But, more recently, I've thought about my favourite days in each place and come to a (potentially strange) realisation. That, although travelling with other people, a few of my best moments were actually when I was alone.
For example, when I was in China last summer I ended up climbing a mountain by myself because the other English teachers had already explored it on another day off. Instead of missing out, I decided to seek my own adventure.
So, I decided to compile a brief list of reasons why you should make some time when abroad to explore the country by yourself, as well as with other people:
1. You gain confidence
Worried about working out how to get to a new job? Scared of meeting those new people? Embarrassed about giving a presentation? But you managed to get yourself around in a country where no one speaks English - how can any of those things be an obstacle?
Being independent in a new environment definitely boosts your confidence when trying new things in the future. You've already done the difficult thing, and it wasn't so bad - in fact, it was great!
2. You see things that you would miss in a group
Sometimes when you're part of a big group of Brits, you miss things. Whether that's spending so much time chatting to each other that you forget to stop and look at the beauty around you, or it's not having that incentive to meet new people, it has an impact.
3. You appreciate the people that you're travelling with
If you're eating, sleeping, socialising and travelling together, chances are that at some point you might get tired of the other people that you're with. This is when you're most likely to argue, and put yourselves in a more dangerous situation. Spending small amounts of time exploring apart lets you appreciate the people that you're with, especially as they might discover something different to you!
4. You have some time to think
I've found that visiting a new country can sometimes be overwhelming, with the number of new experiences that you have, new information to absorb and people to meet. It can be helpful to have some space to reflect on all of these things, allowing you to better enjoy the adventure!
None of this is to say that travel with other people is bad. I definitely wouldn't have enjoyed my own mini adventures if I hadn't been alongside the others the rest of the time.
Always make sure that everyone in your group knows the contact details of the nearest British Embassy.