When I travel solo I have no fear holding me back; no worries about being judged or anxiety over how I’m being perceived by other people. Nobody in that country/city knows me, nobody cares about me (in the best possible way) and, most importantly of all, I don’t have to share my itinerary or things I want to do with anybody. I feel like I can truly be myself when I’m anonymous. I always have. That’s why I push people away when they get too close, that’s why I quit jobs when I’ve been there for too long and people are starting to get to know me properly. And I realise that’s a lot deeper than I meant this post to be but they’re connected.
When I’m in a new country for a few days the chances of bumping into anyone I know are slim (although I did bump into a girl I went to school with in Forever 21 on 5th Avenue, NYC once…). The chances of ever seeing anyone I meet again are tiny – and if I am being judged by locals I probably won’t understand them anyway as we don’t share a common language so who cares?
Solo travel allows me to be someone else, even if it’s just temporarily. I feel like I need to spend my whole life running away, reinventing myself and travelling alone allows me a brief glimpse into what that would be like. Travelling solo allows me to be confident and interesting, two things I don’t think anyone at home would ever describe me as. I get such a thrill when people exclaim that they could never travel alone. One of my favourite, most mundane of solo travel moments, was when I told everyone I met in Croatia that I’d booked a one-way flight and their eyes flew wide open. “I would never be brave enough” they all chimed.
That’s who solo travelling me is; she’s brave and fearless and confident and fun and interesting. She tries things she would never try at home, and she grabs life by the horns.
And if that hasn’t inspired you to book your own solo trip, here are 7 more reasons why you should:
It makes you brave
I would never have seen myself as someone who would travel half way across the world with a group of strangers I had just met at the airport. I would never have seen myself crawling through a tunnel in a medieval wall to get to a bar, or even going out drinking with a total stranger after 30 minutes of being in a new country. I would never have seen myself as someone who would happily hop on a local bus where nobody spoke English, going to a town I know nothing about. I would never have seen myself be someone not fazed by being woken up by the police in the middle of the night in a foreign country or as someone who would appear on the tv in Croatia. But I am that person when I travel solo, and you would be too on a solo trip.
It gives you clarity and puts your life into perspective
Every time I’ve gone on a solo trip (with the exception of Portugal) I have ended up getting a new job not long after I returned. That’s because I had the time and the distance from home to evaluate what it was that I really wanted out of life. Most of the time I realised that it wasn’t what I was currently doing so I made a change as soon as I got home.
You get to meet some interesting people (if you’re lucky)
In Split, Croatia I met a Korean guy who was trying to prolong his conscription to the military for as long as possible. We went for cocktails on the seafront and I listened to how terrified he was about it. Also in Split I met an Italian guy and we stayed up all night, feet dangling over the harbour, talking about our lives. He was older than me and talked about the terror he felt as the planes flew over his country during the Yugoslav war. In Portugal I met a 40-something perpetual backpacker who had given up his cosy life in Ireland to travel around The Algarve. He told me this as we sat on a windy rooftop overlooking the whitewash town of Faro. In Dubrovnik I met a Canadian girl who took it upon herself to show me the best bars in the city, and who was along for the ride when our hostel dorm got raided by police due to the Brazilian couple in there with us. In Slovenia I met a German guy who was on a skiing trip with his dad. He was so happy-go lucky and it didn’t bother him when he had to move rooms because of a fault in his. In the USA I met a bunch of people who I now call friends who told of the night of 9/11 and how, as they were so close to New York City, their parents rushed into the city to help in anyway they could. Solo travel introduces you to people who have had vastly different lives to you but who make you realise that we are all the same, the world over. It also allows you to have experiences with new people that you just wouldn’t have if you were travelling with friends or family.
You don’t have to answer to anyone
The freedom that comes with travelling to a new country alone is unmatched. You can sleep in until whenever you want (or get up at the crack of dawn if that’s more your style). You can lie on the beach all day or be as active as you want. You can change plans on a whim, or tag along with a new group of friends. There are no arguments about where to stay, where to eat or what your budget is; everything is decided by you.
It increases your confidence
When I first moved to Nottingham I wouldn’t get on the tram for months because I didn’t know how to buy a ticket and it scared me. In Croatia, for example, I hopped on many local buses which took me through the countryside, which all had drivers that spoke no English (and once I rocked up to the bus station, got on the next bus having no idea where it was going and figured out a plan once I got there. I ended up in gorgeous Zadar and it was one of the best decisions of my life). People who know me have always been in awe of my ability to get myself around a country where I don’t speak the language and not be worried about it. In the UK I’m an anxious mess about this sort of thing (except on the tube in London, weirdly enough), but abroad I just see it all as an adventure. If you get lost, you get to see more of the country. If you can’t find your hostel there will be others you can book into. Solo travel is one hell of a ride -enjoy it.
You will realise that you are more capable than you think
You will be able to get by in a country where you don’t speak the language, you will be able to find your accommodation, you will be able to get on the right bus/train/tram and get off at the right stop. You will have the courage to go to that museum by yourself or go on that boat trip or go to the beach alone. These are some of the (many) worries that went through my head before my first solo trip (and my second, and my third) but, once you’re there, these things will come naturally and you will forget what you were worrying about. And if you’re worries are holding you back, you can always try going on an organised tour to start you off. Read my review of Trek America here.
You will learn to love yourself a little bit more
When you’re in a foreign country with nobody but yourself for company, it can get very lonely when you don’t like yourself. Solo travel also gives you this amazing sense of achievement and pride in yourself. It makes you realise that you are confident and more capable that you think. Sometimes I look back on my solo travels and think I can’t believe I really did that, all by myself and I’m so, so proud. Solo travel is an incredible thing to experience and an incredible thing to achieve.
Getting on that plane alone for the first time is one of the most daunting things you will ever do, but I promise you it will all be worth it.
Have you ever travelled solo? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to travel solo one day? Let me know in the comments!
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