The idea itself seems pretty frightening, travelling alone! The fear of actually being alone in general can be stressful but then add in a place that’s not familiar to you and the feeling amplifies. Every decision is your own to make and experience with no one else to be accountable for but you. But I promise the experience will change you and add more value to your life that you can’t get from any education or explain to anyone else, unless they themselves have travelled alone too.
I don’t care what anyone says, if you think you know exactly who you are or where you’re meant to be and what you want – travel alone and you’ll discover a whole different view about yourself and something completely new within you. There’s the saying “you’ll find out who you are” but I’m not a huge fan of this. I’d say, you’ll learn more about yourself that you didn’t know was already in you!
I’ve just returned from living in Cape Town, South Africa for the past 2 months. This will be my 4th time to South Africa over the past decade and a half. There were many highs and lots of lows but an experience of a lifetime that forever changed me. Every time I go away I discover something about myself that I wasn’t expecting. I’m pushed to step outside my comfort zone and forced to open myself up to new experiences. I’ve made new friends; friends I would have perhaps never made if I travelled with a group, or a significant other; friendships that I cherish. The friends that I’ve made while travelling alone have made me a better and kinder person especially to strangers and other travellers. When someone treated me with kindness or gave me a helping hand it made a world of difference to me. It can be such a simple gesture like stopping to help someone who is lost or looking for a place, but in concentrating on our own busy lives we pass right on by without giving a helping hand. I no longer pass right on by!
The biggest and most important discovery is the confidence you build in yourself that you never knew existed. You’ll have to take care of yourself, problem solve situations and learn new skills to ‘survive’ in a foreign place. There’s no one else to rely on so you have to dig deep and do it yourself – making decisions can actually be fun when you don’t have anyone else to check in with. There’s no pressure if that decision was a right one or a wrong one.
You learn how to take control and be resourceful, and sometimes you don’t realize that you can do this on your own when you have other people around doing it for you. Let’s be honest, no trip ever runs perfectly smooth, whether it’s missing a flight (yes, been there) or getting lost (yup) there will be a situation where you’ll have to make choices and be resourceful. You might find yourself booking an adventure that you never would have done if that flight wasn’t missed!
In the unexpected lie some of the most beautiful experiences.
That’s if you loosen up, adapt and be resourceful. When I found myself taking a job in Thailand last year for 5 days I decided to travel while I was there, alone. I ended up on an island for longer than expected so I went to the travel centre and booked what the island is known for… rock climbing (there weren’t too many options of what to do on the island). I’ve never rock climbed a real mountain before, just those little indoor setups when I was in high school!! So you can say I was just a tad nervous and out of my element! I did however, let go of my fear and joined a group and had the most epic day climbing and seeing Thailand from a whole other view. Not to mention surprised myself on my strength to climb a mountain!
For me and I think for many others it’s the actual fear of just plain old being alone. I do have to say just how important it is to actually spend time alone and to be forced to sit with yourself and your thoughts. This is not a new thing you’ve heard, but when you travel alone you are forced to be with your thoughts and you are allowed the space to do it, even if you don’t want to. You find out what you, you yourself really like, your hobbies and passions because no one else is guiding you. Your routine from regular life will change. For some who have hectic busy schedules, or pressures from life, this is probably the best part of travelling alone.
There are so many other reasons to travel alone and I’ve just talked about a few. Here are my top reasons why I think everyone needs to do this once in his/her life:
- Making strong friendships you’d never make while travelling with others.
- Appreciate kindness from others, making you a kinder person in return.
- Learning how much confidence you actually have.
- Learning to take control and be resourceful.
- Being forced to sit with yourself and your thoughts.
Have you ever travelled alone? What was your experience?
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