For many people, the mere thought of travelling solo is unimaginable. In such a connected world, we are so used to associating our favourite travel memories with our friends and loved ones that we’ve conditioned ourselves to think that travelling alone would be an impossibility. We associate solo travel with those who are brave, confident and fearless… forgetting that they, too, had to step outside their comfort zones at some stage.
Think about it for a second: everyday, you are surrounded by the thoughts of others. Everyday, your experiences are impacted by the advice, the words and the judgements of others. Everyday, you go about your life in the way others expect you to… in the way you’ve come to expect of yourself.
When was the last time you were able to completely disconnect from the world and just be you? The idea may seem a little intimidating, but the reality travelling solo is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding life experiences you’ll ever have. Here are 9 reasons why everyone should travel alone at some point…
1. You’ll become a better learner
Travelling alone is a game of firsts… and first-time experiences teach you so much. You’ll encounter new people, places and cultures that are so far from what you’ve become accustomed to… and your sense of curiosity will kick in. You’ll become more aware of your privilege in life and less expectant of the things you’ve grown to take for granted. You’ll be humbled by your experiences.
Your mind and your thoughts will become sharper because you’re free to think without answers being unintentionally pushed upon you. You’ll become more inquisitive, ask more questions and seek more answers. You’ll learn. You’ll learn compassion, you’ll learn trust, and you’ll learn to think independently.
2. You’ll become more patient
No one said travelling alone was easy. Travel plans don’t always go to plan. Flight delays will happen, language barriers will arise, mishaps will occur… and you’ll learn to deal with it. You’ll find solutions to the problems; you’ll become more resourceful in unexpected situations. You’ll learn to go with the flow because, sometimes, sh*t just happens.
Sometimes, it’ll rain when you planned a day at the beach. Sometimes, the WIFI won’t work when you really wanted to book a connecting flight. Sometimes, cold water just won’t get hot. You’ll learn to let go of your expectations; you’ll learn the true art of patience.
3. You’ll become MUCH more confident
If you’ve ever wanted a confidence boost, try travelling solo! When you’re alone with your own thoughts and your own company, you’ll start to realise that you are enough. When you realise that you enjoy your own company and you stop worrying about what others think, you’re self-esteem will rise above all those insecurities.
You’ll learn that you can handle situations alone. As a result, you’ll do more with your time because you won’t want to waste a second.
4. You’ll find it easier to switch off
Life is go-go-go. It just doesn’t stop. Now, more than ever, we have this need to be permanently ‘switched on’. With our work lives, our social lives, our love lives and our ‘online’ lives, we’re hardly ever alone. We rarely take the opportunity to switch off from the chaotic lives that we have created for ourselves.
The awesome thing about solo travel is that you temporarily escape from all these daily distractions. There is no one to worry about but yourself. You decide how you want to spend your time, without the pressure of having to be always on-the-go. If you want to get up at noon and spend the rest of the day reading, you can do just that… free of distractions, free of temptations to ‘busy’ yourself and free of guilt.
5. You’ll become a lot better at making decisions
When you travel alone, you’re away from all your usual safety nets – the people in life that assist with your judgement calls and those tricky situations. You’re exposed. You have to figure things out on your own and start to make decisions because there is no one else there to make them for you.
In life, we have this tendency to rely on others because it’s easy; it’s safe. When you travel solo, it’s all on you, and this forces you to start trusting your gut; it forces you to think clearly under pressure and without the immediate influence of others. You’ll discover your own opinions, develop your own ideas and start to trust in your own decisions.
6. You’ll be forced out of your comfort zone
Travelling alone is one of the best ways to step outside your comfort zone and realise just how capable you are. Solo travel forces you to look up from your phone; it forces you to speak to new people, to try new things and to get comfortable with being totally uncomfortable.
You’ll do things you didn’t think you were capable of and feel a sense of reward in overcoming each new challenge you face.
7. You’ll discover who you really are and what you love
When you travel solo, you’re escaping your everyday life and everyone in it. The time is yours; you won’t be sharing it with anyone, and this means you can be totally selfish with it. For once in your life, you won’t be compromising or people-pleasing.
Travelling solo means that you’ll intuitively do the things that you want to do. You’ll eat what you want to eat. You’ll wear what you want to wear. You’ll go where you want to go. All without judgement. You’ll discover what you like to do and you’ll try all those things you have always wanted to try… because you are not worrying about others.
8. You’ll end up with friends for life from all over the world
Travelling solo doesn’t necessarily mean travelling ‘alone’. Travelling solo is an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends from all over the world. You’ll be surprised at just how many like-minded people you’ll meet along your journey; some of whom may become friends for life.
When you travel solo, you’ll inevitably meet people who share the same interests and hobbies as you… because you’ll probably stumble across them while you’re doing those very experiences that make you feel alive. Travelling solo makes you put yourself out there and start a conversation, without the comforting option of turning to talk to your best friend. You’ll make friends from across the globe, you’ll connect, and – suddenly – the world will feel like a very, very small place.
9. You will understand what it means to be ‘free’
In life, we’re constantly thinking about others… or thinking about what others think of us. We say we’re ‘free’ at the weekend, only to fill our social schedule. We say we’ll be ‘free’ in five minutes, only to hop online and chat. The reality is, we’re constantly avoiding the opportunity to truly be free.
When you travel solo, your free time is yours; it belongs to you in its entirety. You can be completely selfish with it. You can do what you want, when you want. You’ll learn to disconnect from your everyday life, and you’ll finally understand what it really means to be ‘free’ on Saturday… because Saturday will solely belong to you.
Travel solo, even if it’s just once in life. I promise, you won’t regret it.