Reasons to Travel Solo at Least Once
pulling a solo act
nothing is better than traveling with your best friend
People sometimes and awkwardly tell me they think it brave (and a little crazy) to just step into a foreign place with no friends and contacts, knowledge that isn’t from a website and just find my way around. It’s in those moments, I’m forced to admit that I don't always feel brave at the time and on some of those days I find myself in the mirror, rallying for the departures. "I lived in Korea for a year. I can handle this foreign situation where I know no one. I will not get lost! The food will be great. Easy-peasy!!”
I have to hype myself up. Often.
The truth is traveling by yourself sounds like that unappealing, last minute option you save for when everyone you love has abandoned you and your ticket is non-refundable. But recently, solo travel has become a movement. The boldest of choices for those wanting to dive head first into the open world. I may, of course, be biased. Life on the road alone has given me a freedom that without a doubt makes it easier to navigate my daily life. To adapt to change quickly. It's made me less afraid to uproot my life and move to a new city for a career opportunities or start a website and new life path. Solo travel is a practice and the more I do it, the easier it gets. But more importantly, it’s given me a sense of confidence and self efficacy.
It is, in fact, a total cliche to say traveling is life changing. We wouldn’t all say it, however, if there wasn’t a least a kernel of truth. The real world is so real and full the unknown-- people you’ve never met, foods you’ve never even heard of and roads that lead to places you can’t imagine. But also fear. And we can thank social media for sharing the worst possible outcomes and harrowing tales at the most inopportune times that scare us into inaction. But the absolute truth is that those daunting situations are far and few between. There are so many more reasons to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
So, I put together a few…
You don’t relying on others. The road is all about self reliance. From the moment you step onto that plane, boat or train. And that’s no small thing. It forces you to be stronger, bolder and more vigilant. You’ll get some help along the way. But the airline isn’t responsible for you making your flights on time, the hotel doesn’t book your reservations, and taxi driver can only go where you direct him. That’s all on you. And in those moments an extra boost of adrenaline surges through you and you become a slightly different person. An adventurer. A hero. Every small venture and every decision is spontaneous.
Solo travel challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone. Humans are creatures of comfort. Our preferred state is one of minimal anxiety and stress. How can we expect to evolve in our lives and careers if we only stick to habit and routine? Taking risks is what helps us grow. So you pack some of the most important parts of your life into a small bag and a suitcase and go out venturing alone. You’ll learn to be okay with eating, flying and sleeping alone. Or become really great at charming strangers to do those things with you. You’ll wander streets alone. And get lost. And then find your way again. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure — all your life.
Being alone makes you more open to discovery. One of the scariest (and greatest) things about seeing the world through an open mind is that you make yourself vulnerable. Opening up your mind to new ideas allows you the opportunity to change what you think and how you view the world. Far off from the opinions of others subconsciously (and sometimes directly) shaping your point of view. It’s easier to recognize the internal shifts when the external demands have been removed.
You get in touch with your #1. You’re never more aware of your own thoughts, feelings and desires than when you are alone. You don’t have to make any compromises. There’s no one to plant seeds of doubt or dissuade you from testing boundaries or to push you into situations you may not be comfortable. You are immersed in your travels and by extension your self discovery.
You control your own experience. Solo travel at its core is pretty self-indulgent. And rightly so. You are free to do the things that interest you, at your own speed and comfort. You don’t have to acquiesce to anyone else’s whims. The stakes have been lowered because you only have to worry about keeping yourself happy. The more you travel alone, the more likely you are to feel that you can tackle any challenge with composure intact. Your mistakes are your own.
But... so are your successes.
After a while, you get in the habit of being the narrator of your own journey