Have you been dying to travel somewhere but can’t find anyone to come with you?
I know what you’re thinking. Travelling alone is scary. What if something bad happens? Plus, it’s boring. What are you going to do with yourself for all that time?
Trust me, you’ll be ok. Don’t let these fears stand in the way of new, amazing adventures. Take the plunge and go for it. It’ll be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
I remember the first time I travelled alone, four years ago. I had planned a one-week trip to London, the city where I was thinking of moving one day. I had been there before a few times with my friends and had completely fallen in love with it. But I had never ventured out of the central tourist areas.
This time, it would be different. I would be staying with people I didn’t know in a part of town I had never been before. It was a residential area, one of those places that’s not on the must-see travel lists. I wanted to experience the real London, have a feel what it would be like to live there and start a new life from scratch, away from everyone I knew.
When I ventured off to the airport, I was a bundle of nerves. I was excited about this new adventure but also nervous about the unknown. London is a huge city, what if I got lost? What if my wallet and passports got stolen? What if I fell ill? What if…? There were so many things that could go wrong…
But there were also so many things that could go right. I could explore places I had never been to before, meet people I wouldn’t otherwise have met and have exciting new experiences. I could do whatever I wanted without anyone holding me back.
In the end, the trip was the most unforgettable trip of my life. It was exciting and fun. It was scary and stressful. It tested my limits and forced me to push past my boundaries. It made me grow as a person and realise I am way stronger than I thought I was.
Since then, I’ve never been afraid of travelling alone. Now I can’t wait to jump on that plane even if no one wants to tag along. It’s one of the best things you can ever do to build your character and find out who you really are. Be brave. It’s worth it.
You’ll become more confident
When I traveled with my friends, I always relied on them to find the way to our destination. But when I go alone, I have to find the way myself. I lost count of how many times I got lost on my first solo trip to London – even with the help of Google Maps to guide the way! But you know what? I’ve always found my way back. This is just one of the many examples of the little problems I’ve had to learn to solve on my own. Before I left, I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to deal with the little hiccups that inevitably happen along the day but when it came down to it, I realised that I had the skills, strength and ability to find a solution. This was a huge confidence boost for me. Now I know that I can deal with whatever comes my way!
You’ll get to know yourself better
Let’s face it, when you’re in a group, you tend to go along with things you don’t really like. For example, I don’t like going to nightclubs. I like to have conversations with people and you can’t really talk when the music is that loud. But when I am with my friends, I have no choice but go. Ok, in the end I try to make the most of it and have fun, but if it were for me, I’d go have dinner at a nice restaurant instead. When I travel solo I can do that. I can try a different cuisine every night and discover which one I like best. I also have a lot of time for introspection, reading, journaling… I can get to know myself better, what I like and dislike, what my strengths and my weaknesses are. For example, on one of my trips I realised how much I love walking in the park and be in contact with nature. Since I returned, I made it a point to go to the park almost every day. I find it very soothing. Walking in nature helps me clear my mind and melt my worries away.
You’ll make new friends
Travelling solo doesn’t mean being alone all of the time. You may not have your friends with you but that only makes you more open to strike up conversations with strangers. It’s just nice to have someone to talk to after a day on your own! These days, technology makes it easy to find meetups in your destination or make connections for couchsurfing. But some of the best conversations I’ve had were with strangers I met while strolling in the park or sitting down for tea at a coffee shop. Not only meeting so many incredible people can ease your loneliness but it also restores your faith in the kindness of humanity. Before I left, my friends warned me of all the dangers I may encounter on the way but the truth is the vast majority of people you’ll meet are kind souls just like you. They’ll help you out if you’re in trouble, put a smile on your face and share a part of their journey with you.
You can do what you want
As much as I love to travel with my friends, I never get to see everything I want to see and do everything I want to do. For example, on our first trip to Paris, I was dying to visit the Louvre and finally see the Mona Lisa in person but my friends didn’t want to queue for their tickets. They preferred to go shopping at The Galeries Lafayette and drink a beer at a pub. And even that was a struggle. Everyone seemed to ramble off to a different department and have a different pub in mind! What’s meant to be a relaxing vacation can soon turn stressful when you have to please everyone! If you’re on your own, you can do whatever YOU want. Want to wake up at 6 am and explore the city on foot? Great! Want to spend all day by the beach sipping margaritas? Do it. No one can hold you back!
You are stronger than you think
Travelling solo isn’t all fun and rainbows. You’ll probably find yourself in some bad situations. Like the time when I was kicked out of the place where I was staying in London and had nowhere else to go. It wasn’t fun at all, I tell you! But I learnt two things. When push comes to shove, I am capable of finding a solution even to the worst problems. And, don’t sweat the small (or big) stuff. Dwelling too much on the problem and complaining about your bad luck will only ruin your holiday. Deal with it and then go explore the place you’re in. You may never go there again so put your worries behind you and make the most of it while you can.
Over to you, now. Have you ever travelled alone and, if so, what did you learn during your trip? Share your experience in the comments below.