Travelling solo strikes fear in the hearts of lots of would-be travellers. "What - travel on my own? I could never do that." But if you don't have a partner, all your friends are too busy, or you want to do a trip that your wife/husband/family scoff at, solo travel could be for you. And you'll join thousands of people who choose to travel like this every year-solo travellers are one of the most popular customer types on group trips. Here's why going solo on holiday is so good.
Learn a new skill
Travelling solo gives you chance to develop skills or learn new ones in way that might be impossible back home. Learning a language is an obvious skill, and there's no better way to become fluent in a language than by hearing the language everyday and trying it out in everyday situations. And beyond languages there are multitude other skills you could pick up en route around the world - become a yoga teacher in Thailand, get your PADI dive certification, learn how to cook Indian food in India, become a surf pro in Australiaâ€¦the list is endless.
Travel is a real chance to step out of your comfort zone and try things that scare you or do activities you wouldn't even consider back home. It's an amazing opportunity to cast aside the mould of your life back home and shape a new you. Travelling solo is often a challenge in itself to lots of folk, and then there are the classic challenges: bungee jumping, skydiving, diving with sharks, climbing a mountain. Do one or all of the classics or make up your own. Scaring yourself every once in a while is good for the soul.
Take time out from life to restock and re-energise. Whether that means turning the pace of life down a notch and treating yourself with spa treatments, massages and reading that book that's been gathering dust on your bookshelf for months, or turning the pace right up and flinging yourself down mountains and getting your adrenalin soaring, do whatever you want to re-charge your body and mind.
Do what you want, be who you want
When else in life do you get chance to do exactly what you want and be who you want to be? Independent travel gives you chance to grab the world by the horns and make the most of it. Dance, sing, climb, cycle, cook, ski: whatever gets your groove, you can do it from dawn to dusk. Make a money-can't-buy holiday and embrace whatever you love.
Meet like-minded folk
Whether your choose to travel completely independently or choose one of the hundreds of small group tours around the world, you'll come across lots of other solo travelling folk, and more often than not - should you want to, of course - you'll end up travelling with them. Lifelong friendships are made this way, and travelling opens up the world to all sorts of people and opportunities you would never experience back on your home turf.
The beauty of spontaneity
With no-one else to consider, you can change your plans at a seconds notice, and that's a amazing luxury: stay longer in a city, take a new tour or travel with a new-found friend. With an open mind, the opportunities are endless on a solo holiday - and who knows, you might end up with a totally new life by the end of it.
Biog: Katie is a freelance writer and big fan of independent travel. Her next challenge is a marathon on the Inca Trail in Peru.