Travelling is good for the soul. Travelling brings about many realisations on top of invaluable experiences. Travelling is something that we all should do.
While it is common to save our annual leave and money for trips with our loved ones, travelling solo can also be interesting. We may be visiting the same places and sampling the same food as our friends, but because we view the world through different lenses, what’s significant to one may not have as profound an impact on someone else.
Travelling solo isn’t as easy. Loneliness is real, and being alone in a foreign land may often be intimidating. We won’t have someone to help us get out of a knotty situation; we won’t have someone to fall back on. But just as well, because we get a different exposure and more often than not, solo trips will change you for the better.
We’ve taken a couple of solo trips ourselves and we’ve found them to be enriching, and if you haven’t taken one, we strongly encourage you to do so. Here are some of the ways a solo trip will change you for the better.
It’s exhilarating to experience that feeling of complete and utter freedom on a solo trip. You are your own person; only you yourself can dictate where you go and what you do… and guess what? There’s nothing stopping you from unleashing your inner adventurer.
No one to stop you if you want to bungee jump off a cliff with the wind in your face, no need to feel the pressure of having someone wait for you while you shop, dine anywhere you like without worrying about someone’s else tastebuds… You are in charge, you are holding the reins, and you’ve got the final say.
1. THE REVELATIONS YOU DISCOVER ABOUT YOURSELF ARE NOTHING SHORT OF AMAZING
It goes without saying that, since you are on your own in a foreign land, you will probably spend a good deal of time alone. And that’s nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. Ditch technology and learn to rely on yourself.
Do a bit of self-introspection, roam around with no agenda and strike up conversations with strangers. Basically, take a step out of your comfort zone to do what you normally wouldn’t do (unless it’s, well, life-threatening) and even take time to reflect on your life back home—it might just strike you that your troubles pale in comparison to what’s going on around the world. Or you might surprise yourself with newfound social skills. Just don’t stand by the sidelines – challenge every single one of your fears, insecurities and misconceptions.
2. IT’S ONE OF THE FEW TIMES IN LIFE WHEN THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
You are not constrained by deadlines, time restrictions, rules or travel companions whining about everything under the sun. The scent of freedom is absolutely intoxicating. No one’s breathing down your neck about eating your veggies or going to bed before the sun rises.
Munch on chocolate for breakfast or wear crazy mismatched clothes – just because you can. Jot down your bucket list and start checking boxes. If you’ve got even the slightest amount of interest in something, as long as it’s within the realm of basic common sense, just do it. Because no good travel story ever started out with: “that one time I stayed in the hotel room…”
3. YOU’LL COME ACROSS ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE, WHO JUST MIGHT SURPRISE YOU BY BECOMING LIFELONG FRIENDS
But first, you’ve got to toughen up and resist the temptation to hide out in your room. Who cares about the stares of judgment you might get? You’re probably just imagining them, anyway. The only way you’ll meet new people is if you make an effort to reach out and open up. Don’t be too quick to turn down an invitation to hang out, or better yet, do the inviting.
You may not speak the language, but a smile is a universal greeting – just take it from there. This might surprise you, but people will actually strike up conversations with you more often because you are by yourself—you are not as intimidating as tourists in pairs or groups.
4. THERE’S A WORLD FULL OF BREATHTAKING CULTURE AND LIFE-ALTERING EXPERIENCES THAT LIES AHEAD.
So you prefer to trek through off-the-beaten-path locations instead of the latest hotspot that everyone’s heading to? Hop on a plane and go for it. Don’t let the lack of a travel companion or others’ hectic time schedules distract you from your own fulfilment.
Explore gorgeous ancient ruins, scale the heights of great mountains, admire iconic landmarks across the globe, or attempt adventurous stunts for an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing stopping you from holding all these stunning memories except yourself.
5. YOU WILL RETURN HOME A WHOLE NEW YOU
When you muster up the courage to undertake a solo trip despite your friends’ confused looks and your parents’ (or other half’s) worry, you leave home one person and come back another. It’s pretty much guaranteed.
Confidence is one of the great things you’ll gain – because not many people can say they’ve navigated the intimidating waters of the unknown and come back (mostly) unscathed and even rejuvenated. There’s so much to learn: fresh perspectives, boldness in the face of failure, a new love for solitude, recognition of your inner strength, a greater appreciation for the little things, feeling more than comfortable in your own skin… It sounds clichéd to say this, but it’s honestly truly rewarding.