13 Reasons Why - You Should Travel Solo At least Once
When & Why Did I (Have To) Travel Solo For The First Time?
Travelling alone hadn’t been my preference or original intention. But it was a work trip which required me to travel alone across 3 states of Germany with just an itinerary given to me on paper. The trip required me to figure out my commute from one point to another, shoot videos, be IN the videos, also shoot content for social media and so on. Basically, I was a one man army. I never said no because I was confident I'd be able to figure out things once I had no option and had to deal with things, real-time. I struggled the first time, but I managed. Later on in life, a few more shoot opportunities arose. And after asking and waiting for friends to become available, I suddenly started to worry that I was wasting precious travel moments waiting for others to have the time or money to travel. And eventually my longing to travel became stronger than my desire for companionship. It was then that I decided to make the journey across the pond on my own. So what if I had to go alone, I’d always been good at making my own fun. Little did I know how meaningful these trips would come to be in my life. Nor did I realize how surprising this would be to some. People told my parents - I can’t BELIEVE you’d let your daughter travel alone. Although among the most liberal-minded, the fact that I was traveling alone was often met with admiration.
I truly believe traveling solo was one of the best decisions I ever made. Here are a few ways it changed my life and why I recommend everyone try solo travel at least once…
1. You will soul search and learn more about who you are
When you’re traveling solo, you will spend a lot of time in your head….on long bus rides, train rides, or plane rides….it’s a wonderful time for self-reflection. A time to think about what you really care about and what you want. If you’ve ever been feeling a little lost and unsure what to do next, I highly recommend you take some time to soul search with a solo trip.
2. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone and become more confident in your self
When I returned from my first solo trip, I had this immense sense of accomplishment. Figuring things out on your own….even small things like learning to ride the subway in a foreign country (when you don’t speak the language) has a tremendous impact on what you believe you’re capable of. It gives you bravery to do things you haven’t done before, both in travel and other spheres of your life, because you’ve witnessed your own ability to figure out the things life throws at you.
3. When you travel alone, you tend to meet more people….and make friends with people from all over the world
When you travel alone, you immediately get better at small talk or striking up a conversation with a stranger. Because you quickly learn this is the key to traveling solo, but not being alone. When you meet people traveling, I’ve found that you often form deeper friendships faster….maybe it’s because you’re of a similar mindset. It’s like you’re in a club together. Something that not many people have realized the power of. I have stayed in touch with many people I met traveling and hung out with for a week, or even just a few days, because though short, they were meaningful connections. And also you conversations with such friends you met on a trip are always fun, as they help reminisce that fun trip you took. Nobody back home will know the actual feeling as these friends will.
4. You are free to make your own decisions and follow your own path
When you don’t have to answer to any traveling companions, the world opens up with possibilities. You want to change your plans and travel to Pondicherry instead of Goa? You can. You want to go skydiving on a whim? You can. You want to spend the whole day in bed with a book or just Netflix? You can. It’s liberating to know that you don’t have to answer to anyone, or be responsible for anyone else but yourself. You are free to do exactly what you want to do and change your mind or plan, at any given moment.
5. You’ll be more focused on the destination and soaking up the culture
Because you won’t be distracted with friends, you’ll be more in tune with your surroundings and soaking up everything going on in your destination. You’ll catch sight of something magnificent because you have nothing else to focus on besides the place you’re in. You’ll find a deeper appreciation for the beauty in a place, it’s culture, and people. You’ll be more open to wandering and gain greater understanding of what it would be like to live in this place.
6. You’re going to try things you never thought you would
You’re going to experience things you never in a million years thought you would try. Because after all, there’s no one there who knows you to judge you. So you turn into a daredevil. And a daredevil person will try all sorts of things, that back home he would not normally try. Maybe you’ll try eating a bug in Thailand, or go cliff-diving in Hampi. Maybe you'll open yourself up to a week-long romance or try stand up comedy at an open mic night a local bar.
7. You can travel at your own pace
When you’re solo, you can do everything at your own pace. You don’t have to worry if someone is taking too long to do her makeup or if someone is walking too slow. You chose your travel style. You choose what time to wake up and start sightseeing. You chose what is important to you and you do exactly that. You will have no regrets because you’re moving through the trip how you see fit for YOU.
8. There’s something exhilarating about traveling alone
Let me tell you something about traveling alone, it’s exciting as hell. Some people crave the rush of jumping out of a plane. I crave hopping on a plane to somewhere where I don't know anyone and don’t have any plans. You have no idea where the next few days, or weeks or months will take you. But you just go with it. Each day you wake up not knowing what’s going to happen or who you are going to meet. It’s thrilling. And I guarantee it, once you try it, you’ll want to do it again. It’s addicting.
9. It will improve your mental health
Traveling alone can also work wonders on your mental health. If you’re in a bad place at home and need to escape your routine, try traveling solo. It’ll give you the space and time to reflect and figure out what you need to take care of, yourself. Sometimes just a change of pace from your typical environment can help put the world in perspective. Maybe the trip will help you de-stress from your job or distance yourself from something at home that you need a break from. Vacation time has been proven to be wonderful for the mind.
10. You’ll be free to form your own opinions about the world
People are often very quick to judge places and people they don't know. But through travel, you open your mind up; you learn that a country is not dangerous just because it’s poor. Or how often the media back home exaggerates certain situations or circumstances. Being there first hand, you can determine how you really feel about things without being affected by someone else's opinion and in turn, help educate others, encouraging them to seek out their own truths too.
11. You’ll learn to live life independently
Learning to be alone is a wonderful thing. That’s not to say you should strive to be alone forever! Simply that, it’s freeing when you learn how to be happy on your own. When you don’t rely on company and others to entertain you or keep you motivated. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they are afraid to sit at a restaurant by themselves to have a meal; I have done this so many times while traveling that I don’t even think twice about it! In fact, I really love dining by myself without anyone talking constantly while I eat or affecting my meal choices....or let's say without having to share that cake! Lol. Through solo travel, you learn to not fear spending time alone, but instead, actually enjoy it.
12. You’ll learn to be a more compassionate person
Through travel, you’ll see many things. Some things that will make you smile, and some things that will make you cry. You’ll learn that good people do bad things maybe out of desperation, maybe to help their family; it’s easy to judge until you meet them. Or spend the day walking in their shoes. By getting to know people different than you, you’ll find it easier to accept, forgive, and show compassion. Today, tomorrow, and forever.
13. You learn to live in the moment
Travel brings so many things to your life. But I think one of the greatest things you take away from the experience is that life is short. So you learn to live in the moment. Because why not? Home is far away and there’s no one here that knows the person you you used to be or are. The only thing you need to worry about is right here and now, this fleeting moment in time and how to make the most of it.
Hope this helps you make the decision of stepping out by yourself. When in doubt, open up this article and read up some of the points to help you get the required push.
But FIRST make sure to share this with you friends who have been wanting to travel solo but just haven't been so sure!