8 reasons why you should travel solo at least once in your lifetime!
Before I left Australia to embark on a new life in London I'd never travelled anywhere on my own, except once when I spent four days alone in Sydney but my parents drove me there and picked me up so that doesn't really count! Since being in London I've been on many solo trips, the very first one was to Scotland. Scotland is only a hop and a skip away from the UK but nonetheless it was the first time I'd travelled alone so I was scared! before then I'd never even caught a plane by myself. I jumped into the deep end and I flailed about for a bit, when I exited Edinburgh airport I was panicked, I didn't know where to go or what to do. It didn't take long for my nerves to calm as I slowly began working it all out. I learnt on that trip that if you stop trying to do it all at once and just take it one step at a time, working things out becomes a lot easier. After that trip I had new confidence in myself and my capabilities, I realised that it was only scary because I'd never done it before and that's totally normal because anything that's new is frightening to begin with.
Once I'd gone solo a few times I felt like super girl. I didn't need my parents, didn't need a man, didn't need a companion, didn't need anyone! yes I had to fly on my own, navigate on my own, interact with new people in new environments on my own, but I also didn't have to worry about other peoples needs or wants. That single positive outweighs any negative. When you're travelling with other people you waste so much time. You stop for a toilet break because someone else needs to go, you stop to eat because someone else is hungry, you wait around to leave for the day because someone else isn't ready. When you're alone YOU'RE FREE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WHENEVER YOU WANT! too much enthusiasm? if you couldn't tell I've grown to love travelling on my own. Don't get me wrong it's not always easy. Even after travelling solo many times I still sometimes struggle on my own, but the difference now is that I've come to enjoy the challenges it brings. I'm not scared of the hurdles anymore, I've come to realise that the challenges are the essence of real travel. I've come to love being on my own so much that even on a family holiday I'll take an afternoon or a morning and spend it alone. I need at least a couple of hours exploring a new place solo so I can walk away feeling like I've experienced it fully. Maybe I'm a bit of a lone wolf, but I think anyone who is sick with wanderlust has a lone wolf within them howling to be free. Listen to that inner wolf and here's what you'll find;
1. You gain confidence
It's impossible not to! when you're faced head on with challenges and you're on your own you simply have no choice but to put your big girl pants on and deal with it. The first time this happens you're going to be scared but after you've conquered that initial hurdle you're going to feel like the chosen one! haha. Seriously though all of a sudden you'll be walking a little more confidently, head held higher and smiling a lot wider. After working your way out of sticky situations all by yourself you get this incredible feeling of ecstasy and it feels like there's absolutely nothing you can't do.
2. You become smarter
Learning in school whilst sitting at a desk is one thing, but learning through real life experiences is a whole different ball game. I believe that school can only teach you to a certain point, you will learn about the pyramids of Egypt and you might know all the facts but you can't possibly understand completely until you've seen them for yourself. Those who venture out into the world gain a much broader understanding not only of the planet and of our history, but of humanity too. I have found in my life that people who don't travel tend to lack compassion, not all people who haven't travelled! I don't like to generalise. But certainly the self righteous folks i've come across have never left their home town and to me that speaks volumes, this is where travelling teaches you about humanity. As a solo traveller you will sometimes rely on locals to help you find your way, you will meet people who don't speak a word of English and who have absolutely nothing, yet they would give the clothes on their backs if you needed them. You will also see with your very own eyes how people in less privilaged countries live, you will see homeless people sleeping in the street, you'll see families living in homes that are the size of your living room yet they'll be some of the happiest and selfless people you'll ever meet. Through experiences like these you learn true compassion and gratitude, you learn that generalising is poison because in every walk of life there is kindness and love to be found. Even in the most destitute and poor places on earth you will find wonderful, giving people and that is the most valuable lesson of all.
3. You grow up
This links into the above point, because once you have become more aware of the world we live in it's inevitable that you will grow as a person - spiritually, mentally and emotionally. The level of maturity that you left with will sky rocket to a level of maturity that you didn't even now you were capable of at your age! Once your eyes have been opened your mind and heart will quickly follow, turning you into a real life grown up.
4. You meet more people
When you travel with a group or even with a partner you tend to stick to each others company, when you're alone though you're kind of forced into socialising with strangers. You can choose not to of course, but I suggest giving it a go! On my trip to Scotland I made a wonderful friend who I still keep in touch with today, and I also have a few very close friends who are locals I met in Thailand and whose friendships I value greatly. It pays to be friendly and open to meeting new people!
5. You make better stories to tell!
To give you an example, when I went to Slovenia on my own I really wanted to visit Vintgar gorge, the gorge was an hour walk away from where I was staying or a 10 minute taxi ride. Of course I chose to walk, wanting to challenge myself and bask in the glory of finding my way when I got there. I had no map, just a vague idea of the direction I needed to go. I got so lost that it took me almost two hours to get there and for some time I was wandering through a random forest! I felt like mcgvyer trying to find my way out of there. Did I get there in the end? yes I did, and let me tell you finding that gorge is one of my happiest memories and one I won't soon forget. When you're on your own moments like that happen often, moments which make for great stories to tell!
6. You get to know yourself
When you're on your own you have an excessive amount of time on your hands for reflection. I don't know about you guys but I love spending time with myself, there's something so enriching about checking in with your feelings and thoughts and almost discussing them with yourself... that sounds loopy I know, but it's important to keep in touch with your feelings in order to remain honest with yourself. I think spending time alone in reflection and contemplation is not only enriching but vital to ones happiness.
7. You're free to do whatever you want, whenever you want
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post the BEST part of travelling solo is that you don't have to cater to or think about anyone else's needs or wants! if you want to get up and start the day at 6am that's what you do, no waiting around for everyone else to get up and get ready, and vice versa if you want to sleep in one day you can! if you want to skip dinner one night you can do that, if you want to live off hotdogs the whole trip you can! its great having no one else to worry about but yourself. Once you travel alone you'll be addicted.
8. You spend less
How annoying is it when someone in the group wants to eat at a ridiculously overpriced restaurant for dinner? ESPECIALLY when they suggest eating somewhere like the hard rock café when you're in Thailand... ughhh so annoying, but because you're outnumbered and you don't want to be the wet blanket you go along with it and end up spending £25 on a burger and chips that you could have got at home instead of paying a quarter of that to immerse yourself in culture and eat genuine Thai food at a local restaurant. On your own you have nobody else to cater to, you can eat cheap street food for the whole trip if you want to! you can also stay in a dingy hotel room for dirt cheap because you don't care where you stay whereas when you're with others you tend spend more staying at a fancier places to keep everyone happy. On your own you've only got yourself to please!
So there you have it, eight reasons why the next trip you go on should be a solo one. Get out there and tackle somewhere new all by yourself. Trust me, it's an incredible feeling!
Over and out x