Harry Nilsson once penned a tune that opens with "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do". C'mon Harry, you have to admit that one can also be incredibly liberating, wonderfully surprising and gloriously friction-free.
For starters, being alone on the road means never having to compromise. You can linger in bed or bounce out of it at dawn without annoying anyone. No one is snoring, tip-toeing to the bathroom or watching television in a fog of jet-lag in the middle of the night except you. You can also tick off all the things on your destination to-do list without half-heartedly doing something that's really not your jam.
The best thing about solo travel for me is how easy it is to strike up conversation with locals and other holiday-makers (with no impatient companion forcing the encounter to be cut short). My favourite people in the world are those that, once they realise you're flying solo, ask you to join them for food, drinks or random adventures. No doubt, they need a break from each other too.
At El Questro's posh Homestead in Western Australia's East Kimberley, a Victorian couple celebrating a milestone birthday invited me to see their enviable suite cantilevered out over the river and its resident croc. After dinner, we skedaddled onto their moonlit balcony to drink wine and shoot the breeze. It was way more fun than the staid boat cruise we'd suffered through in the afternoon.
In Mauritius, newlyweds (Australian groom, English bride) started joining me for breakfast after hearing my accent – a simple gesture but a highlight of my stay. On Alaska's Kodiak Island, I went for a morning hike with the local chapter of the Audubon Society. The group included a couple from Oregon; we soon decided to pile into their hire car for a day trip to see World War II fortifications and a beach at the end of the island's main road. Those spontaneous gestures are now cherished travel memories.
Of course solo travel is challenging when things go wrong. I've had credit cards hacked and suffered injuries while far from home. Calm and reassuring friends are only a FaceTime call away. Overcoming these hurdles – and carrying on with my travels - have made me realise I'm more resilient and self-sufficient than I would have guessed. Forget therapy. Trip around the world solo and you'll learn a whole lot about yourself in a very short space of time.