Why Everyone Should Travel Solo at Least Once
Deciding to travel solo wasn’t easy. I walked away from my computer five times before finally being able to press the ‘confirm’ button on my flight. And, if I’m being honest, I spent the hour leading up to boarding in the airport bathroom, sick to my stomach and anxiety ridden. I was worried about being judged or pitied for being on my own. I was worried I’d be a target for unwanted attention. And I was scared I wouldn’t make friends.
But finding the courage to quit my fulltime job, leave a bad relationship, and head out on my version of Eat, Pray, Love was (as you likely assumed) the best decision I ever made.
Here are six reasons why I push all the women in my life (including you) to give solo travel a try!
1. Because it scares you.
As someone whose picture could easily appear next to the definition of Type A, the thought of not being able to schedule every part of my trip, going to countries where I didn’t speak the language, or know anyone made me uneasy; which was exactly the point. Putting myself in those environments, scared or not, was a huge confidence booster. Within a few weeks, I found out that the world didn’t end when my life wasn’t scheduled and that large hand signals are a universal language. Getting lost became my favourite activity and going to a new city just because I heard of some amazing gelato shop was my new norm. Solo travel is the quickest way of discovering exactly what you’re capable of, in any given situation. It breaks down walls and ironically, through getting lost, helps you find exactly who you are. It’s empowering, eye opening, and incredibly humbling.
2. To get back your intuition.
I don’t know about you but I wasn’t always the greatest at trusting my gut. I’d doubt myself, over analyze, or just ignore what my intuition was telling me all together, assuming it was wrong. But the saying that your intuition is like a muscle and the more you use it the stronger it gets is 100% true. When you travel alone, it’s all you have to go on and by the time my trip was over I had an intuition as solid as an eight-pack. When you’re constantly meeting people, exploring new places, and put in different and foreign situations, it’s the one constant you can rely on, as long as you learn to listen.
3. Ultimate Freedom
Anyone who has watched Wild, Under the Tuscan Sun, or Eat, Pray, Love has probably felt that twinge of wanderlust. We are so tied down and attached to our jobs, families, friends, and possessions that taking a break from it all seems unrealistic and maybe, even selfish. But, travelling alone can be exactly what you need to be a better friend, family member, partner, or employee. By giving yourself time to only worry about yourself and what you want to do, you’ll come back recharged and reenergized.
I think the biggest misconception about travelling alone is that you are actually alone. You’ll find that in someway, you’re connected to every traveller you meet. And that those connections, at least in my experience, happen quickly and tend to be on a deeper and more meaningful level. People pickup and leave for a variety of reasons and whether it’s for a day or a few months, there’s a vulnerability and openness that comes with it. Locals are also always eager to show you their lives and culture and if you’re open to it (this goes back to the whole trusting your gut thing) you’ll be invited to someone’s house for dinner or their neighbour’s wedding before you know it.
5. Technology Detox
Being without Wi-Fi is a terrifying thought but liberating feeling. How many times a day do you check your phone and aimlessly scroll through Instagram wasting minutes, if not hours of your life? You likely only do it because it’s there and it’s convenient. But imagine a day without data or wifi. Think of all the time you’d get back, the things you’d see, and the conversations you’d have. It sounds like a stretch but after a day or two without constant access to social media I found myself able to relax. I took in the sights differently and appreciated them for what they were, without trying to get a story/pic for the ‘Gram. I got lost and discovered amazing little streets I probably never would have seen using Google maps. I talked to people in lines, at the beach, and at cafes; nine times out of ten I made a new friend or at the very least got a great recommendation for local spot to try.
6. You`ll say yes to things you never would have
Travelling with friends is like having a safety blanket with you at all times. You`re less likely to branch out, meet new people or try new things. But when you’re on your own, there’s no judgement, no “are you sure?”, and no worry that a story about a ridiculous decision will come back home with you (unless of course you tell it!). Being on your own opens you up to saying yes to things like bungee jumping, spontaneous trips with friends you’ve only known for 24h (if that), or learning how to salsa. These memories and experiences make trips like these unforgettable and addictive.
7. To fall in love… with yourself
I will always say the best thing I found on my backpacking trip was myself and I don’t care how cheesy that sounds! Learning the difference between being lonely and alone is a lesson that will impact your life for the better both while travelling and back home. If you can learn how to spend quality time with yourself, and hopefully even enjoy it, it will play a huge role in appreciating and understanding your own self-worth.
I’ll be the first to say travelling solo isn’t for everyone and trying it for the first time doesn’t have to be a three to four month trip like I did either. But if you can get yourself out of your comfort zone, for even just a weekend, you’ll see the difference it can make in all areas of your life.