Why everyone should travel solo at some point
At the age of 19, having never really travelled anywhere before, with only my backpack I set off around the World into the unknown. It was by far the most adventurous thing I had done and as I met new people and experienced amazing things my confidence grew and grew. Although I continued to travel throughout university and beyond, having a partner meant I didn’t need to travel solo anymore. Once my relationship came to an end, I forced myself back into a situation where I was going to have to be alone, totally alone, on the other side of the world…I have never looked back! That was 5 years ago and since then I have continued to have many more solo adventures! Here are some of the reasons why everyone should do it at least once:
- You are in charge
When you travel on your own you can do whatever you want, whenever you want – It’s as simple and brilliant as that! There’s no need for compromise about going to that museum you really don’t want to visit, or spending money that you don’t have on staying somewhere out of your budget but where your travel companion really wants to stay. The other great thing is that you are on your own time table so if you like a place; stick around and if you don’t; you can leave – no questions asked.
- No waiting about
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I want to go somewhere; no matter what it takes I will get there somehow and soon. Travelling solo means no hanging around for friends to get time off work or to quit their jobs; you can plan your trip to go exactly where YOU want when YOU want!
- Finding yourself
As cheesy as it sounds it really is true. No matter what issues you may or not be dealing with, travelling alone is the perfect opportunity to heal. Focusing purely on yourself may seem selfish, but if you do not put your energies into you then you can’t put them into others fully. I have had so many amazing moments sat on a train listening to music and gazing out of the window knowing that these moments are just mine; no one can take them away from me. As hard as it can be to talk yourself through what may be going around in your head, I think it is crucial. Travelling opens your mind to different opportunities and whilst friends may offer the most amazing advice, when you travel solo you empower yourself to think of your own paths that you would never have considered going down before.
- Meeting SO many people
I know everyone says it, but when you are alone you really do attract more people. I have met some of the most amazing people whilst I have been travelling on my own, who I would never have grown so close to had I been with someone else. The thing is when you’re on your own, and someone else is too, you are inevitably going to end up chatting and before long one of you will probably tweak their travel plans to chum alongside the other for a while (knowing all the while that should you not want to go with their plan; you have no obligation to and can head off solo again). Most recently I made some brilliant friends touring around Western Australia, Sri Lanka and Ecuador, whom I have kept in contact with and have caught up with all over the World!
- Hanging with locals
One of the best things to do when travelling alone is a homestay. I have stayed in numerous homestays across the World and have literally been adopted into families for weeks at a time. Although you can do this with a friend or partner, it’s not quite the same. Not having a pal to chat to forces you into chatting to family members (often in a different language) and before you know it you find yourself straight off of the tourist route with new insider knowledge and visiting places you never knew existed. If you are lucky enough you may even find yourself attending family parties too!
- Don’t miss a thing
Without someone there to distract you through chat, you are totally open to take everything in that is all around you. It is so much more difficult to sit on a train or bus and just gaze out of the window for the whole journey when you are with someone else. There are so many snippets of life to be seen in this way…blink and you may miss it!
- You did it!
Coping with things such as illness, being stranded after a bus has broken down in the middle of nowhere in South America or even with loneliness when you have no one close nearby and no way of contacting anyone at home; leaves you with a great sense of achievement. These low moments are interspersed with some of the most magnificent of times, and whilst it is nice to share them with loved ones, you tend to shed your own personality and develop a new more adventurous one in the process; becoming a person that you like and love more. This is what it is all about! Knowing you have shaped, survived and truly lived the whole journey by yourself will give you the confidence and strength to deal with so much more of what life throws your way.