I like traveling alone. Here are some things I found out when traveling alone:
Eating alone in restaurants is fine. I used to really dislike it, because I felt stared at. It got on my nerves. Once I went for mexican food in a Denver restaurant on the tech campus, and on Saturday night the restaurant was filled with families. I was seated in the middle of the room, and had a really big table just for me. This was quite uncomfortable, but I’ve gotten used to it now, and it’s very refreshing. As a personal rule, I try not to use my phone when having dinner (either with friends or alone). If I do want to do something while waiting for my meal, I’ll read a book or write in a notebook.
The freedom of traveling alone is great. Especially when you’re backpacking: once you hit the road you can go wherever you want to go. Many songs have been sung about this feeling, and many books have been written. If you’ve never experienced it: do it!
For some reason, I used to feel the pressure to socialize. However, it’s fine not to do that. Most of the time, I like to meet people and talk to them. However, I also like spending a day sipping café con leche and eating tapas without really talking to somebody. It clears my mind.
The way you travel and the places you stay can also have an important effect on socializing: I prefer to use public transport. In a rental car, you can be pretty sure to not meet anybody. Likewise, in a hostel it’s much easier to meet new people than in a hotel. And joining organized activities is a sure way to meet new people: even if you’re really picky, if you meet enough people you’re bound to meet somebody you really like. I made some great friends over the years by joining walking tours or pub crawls.
There is the obligatory quote: “happiness is only real when shared”, which is very true. Traveling with friends is just as awesome. However, you’ll meet people along the way with who you will share the moments. For me, it’s easier to meet people when I’m traveling alone than when I’m traveling with friends: with friends, I tend to isolate a bit more, and don’t make many new friends.