Traveling can be scary. The unfamiliar cities, languages, and people are certainly daunting, but it is this challenge that inspires many to jet off around the world. Exploring, discovering, and the thrill of the unknown are huge motivators for travelers, but some people bring it one step further by making these trips alone. The number of these solo travelers is growing, and one professor wanted to find out why.

A new study by the Queensland University of Technology Business School examines the motivation behind those who travel alone — whether or not it is a choice or a necessity, and the reasons for choosing to do so rather than travel with family or friends.

Professor Connie Bianchi said she found solo travelers were choosing freedom, uncompromised fun, and meeting new people over the need to have a companion to share their experiences. She said that although people had the option to travel with family or friends, they chose to travel alone because they enjoyed it.

“According to them, it was a chance to indulge fully,” Bianchi said in a press release.

As an example, Bianchi cited a solo traveler who chose their method of travel because it would be the best way to “make sure that I got what I wanted out of the holiday without having to … consider anybody else and what they might want to do.”

Another participant said: “You discover a lot about yourself and you learn to be at peace with your inner monologue due to time spent alone and the challenges you must overcome alone,” according to professor Bianchi.

Bianchi found that solo travelers often complained of extra costs and single supplements, along with safety concerns, but the positives outweighed the negatives.

Travel And Health

It’s been well documented that vacations are good for the body and mind — we de-stress, relax, and feel happier. The health benefits of travel, however, don’t end when the vacation does.

In one study, a group of women aged 45 to 64 were asked how often they take vacation. The researchers followed up 20 years later to find that women who vacationed every six years or less frequently had a significantly higher risk of heart attack or coronary death compared to the women who vacationed at least twice a year, even after adjusting for other risk factors.

Cognitive health can benefit from travel as well, since challenging new experiences can help the brain develop specific nerve cells. Just as shaking up a workout routine leads to better results, changing your everyday surroundings and experiences is good for your brain, lending to higher energy levels, creativity, and increased productivity.

Source: Binachi C. Solo Holiday Travelers: Motivators and Drivers of Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction. International Journal of Tourism Research. 2015.