I have travelled far, and I have travelled long time, but it was not until September last year that I took the step fully and completely as a solo traveller. Through my travels I have met many of them, what I thought were crazy people leaving their own country to venture out into the world perfectly alone. Just the thought scared me enough to let 27 years pass before it was no other choice but to dive in head first. Never was a decision so terrifying, never was the reward so big. To travel alone is like nothing I have ever done before and now 5 months in, I wonder; what took you so long?
I was never a particularly outgoing person nor was I loud. I was, and still am, a quiet soul who enjoys her own company more than most people. However, traveling changed me. It made me bolder. It taught me how to stand on my own two feet. It showed me how not to be afraid of the unknown and embrace the challenges ahead. They say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and I guess in some ways it makes perfect sense. Above all, this is what my wanderlust have taught me; it will be okay. Everything will be fine, so stop worrying and live life as the beautiful adventure it was meant to be.
So you wanna fly solo do you? Well, let me tell you why you should throw your fears to the wolves and become just that, a lonesome traveller.
“Don’t be scared to walk alone, don’t be scared to like it”
Why is it that most of us are so uncomfortable with doing anything alone? Engage yourself in an activity that is usually meant for two or more people, and you are committing a social suicide you could never dream of recovering from. How dreadful! What will people think of me? To go and see a movie alone or even enjoying a meal out by yourself is something many of us wouldn’t dream of doing. No wonder solo traveling is so petrifying eh? But what if you have a desire to travel so great it hurts inside, but no one to go with? Are you gonna stay at home and miss out on something that could be the greatest adventure of your life? Don’t be stupid. Take the bull by its horns and take charge of your destiny. Don’t be scared to walk alone. Start small, do things in your everyday life that you wouldn’t usually do by yourself. Get use to it, go bigger and don’t be afraid to like it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You go on a magical adventure that was possible because you learned how to enjoy your own company as well as realizing that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
“Solo traveling doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone”
And that leads me on to my next point. Why shouldn’t you travel solo? Before I felt the freedom of my own two wings spread across the Atlantic, I was under the impression that solo traveling was having to share experiences with me, myself and I. Having to travel alone, I would feel lonely and depressed at not being able to enjoy the excitement of my adventure with anyone. Well, let me put that myth in the past. Traveling solo means leaving your home alone and meeting up with new friends. As if they were there waiting for you all along. Jump on a bus and you will soon find yourself engaging in conversation with whoever comes your way. And believe me, there will be someone. Check into a dorm room and find out that your bunk buddy is also traveling to Hanoi tomorrow. Join a guided hike to Machu Picchu and within the next three days you will have new friends for life offering a bed to sleep in anytime you come to New Zealand. Take on a job as a volunteer and experience the amazing comradeship with your new colleagues. The opportunities are endless. And let me tell you, no matter who you are solo traveling is never traveling alone.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”
I’m sure for many people, like myself, it is the feeling of uncertainty and fear of the unknown that stops us from traveling alone. We like to be comfortable and to be in control of the situations that we are in. It’s safe to say that at some point during your travels you will be lost, disoriented and panicking of not understanding s*** of what’s going on around you. But that’s okay. You will take a deep breath and figure it out. What else is there to do? And for every time life challenges you, you will grow stronger and more confident. You have the power to take control of the situation and when there is no one else to lean on you got to trust yourself. Before you know it, those challenges that seemed so terrifying before will just be another part of your adventure. Life might not always be easy when traveling solo, but you learn how to reach a new comfort zone you would never be able to accomplish without being just you.
“To travel solo is to have the freedom to do whatever your heart desires”
One of the absolute highlights of traveling solo is that you have freedom. Freedom to do go wherever you want. Freedom to do whatever your heart desires. Haven’t you been on holiday with friends where you have ended up doing something you didn’t want do just because it was the wish of someone else? You shouldn’t waste your travels doing things that is not interesting to you. When there is no one else to take into consideration there is nothing standing in the way of you taking the path of your dreams. There are no compromises to be made other than with yourself. If that sounds lonely, it is not, because like I said, whatever path you choose there will be others right there living and dreaming the same things as you. When one thing ends another one starts and it can be exactly what you want it to be.
“It is a blessing, knowing and loving people all over the world”
And finally the best part of traveling solo. Friends. It lets you meet and connect with people in a whole different way. When you are out there living you run into hundreds of people, most of them you wouldn’t bother with if you weren’t alone. Some of these will be nothing more than a chat along the way, others become like a summer fling; you enjoy each other for a while before moving separate ways in search of something more long lasting. And then you have those, maybe a handful, who become friends for life. To know and love people all over the world is a blessing. Always you will have special memories together. Forever you will have a friend who somewhere in the world is a local. From these people you learn about culture, life and how to understand our differences. These are the friendships that brings the world closer together.
So don’t be afraid to set sail on your own, there is nothing more memorable, educational and adventurous than being your own captain on a path down the unknown.