Travelling solo can seem like a scary prospect but my trips alone have been the one which have made the biggest impact on my life. The first time I travelled by myself was at the tender age of 18 when I decided to venture to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand instead of going straight to university. Even all these years later I feel like it was the most valuable learning experience of my life, and here are some of the reasons why:
You get to do whatever you want!
Not having to take anyone else into consideration is one of the best parts of travel as everything is your way. This has its pros and cons as there is no one else to blame when things go wrong, but it also means that there is no one to hold you back.
Become a better decision maker
I used to struggle with choice paralysis even when reading a menu, which meant having the freedom to make all my decision about my trip was stressful, however returning to real life I no longer linger on everyday options. making my daily life so much easier.
Upping your organisational skills
With no else to rely on it’s up to you to have your shit together and avoid potential disaster. I still need to work this one out but with each trip I get a little better.
Picking myself back up
Of course there are times when I felt low whilst travelling solo; without anyone else to lean on I had to learn how to lift my own spirits – another invaluable life skill.
Enjoying my own company
Being alone doesn’t mean that you are lonely and sometimes it is nice to take things at your own pace without worrying about anyone else.
Learning to make the first move
I have social anxiety so approaching people and starting a conversation is not my forte, however when travelling I was forced to push myself past that awkwardness and fear which lead to me meeting some truly amazing people.
When you have to carry your own things you learn to survive on the minimal amount of belongings, or suffer!
Expanding my comfort zone
Travelling solo pushed my boundaries with almost everything: what I eat, where I sleep, who I made friends with, the activities I took part in, and so much more. Learning to challenge my very limited comfort zone made such a huge impact not only on my trip but afterwards too. The extent of this shift in my attitude on my first solo trip was so dramatic that on the way out to Bangkok I was anxious about even stepping on a plane and was in such a mess I got given my own three seats to sit and sob in, away from other passages. Three months later I had built up so much confidence by the time I got to New Zealand I was jumping out of a plane.
Learning where my limits are
Though there are many things that I am surprisingly comfortable with there are other things that I am still not into. Knowing were your boundaries are is not a weakness.
Meeting the most extraordinary people
Travelling with someone else it is easier to just enjoy each other’s company instead of branching out and meeting fellow travellers. On the road I have met the most amazing people from 5 minutes conversations to friendships that have lasted for years.
I had always felt like a sidekick before I went travelling alone, but having no one to hide behind I realised that I was capable of taking the leading-lady role and that people actually liked me for me.
With all distractions stripped away it gave me space to reflect on my life and realise what makes me happy.
Travelling broadened my horizons and made me think about how much of my own life I took for granted. It also made me appreciate the people that I love at home and also made me realise the ones that were not worth keeping around.
Meeting people, learning about their experiences, seeing things first hand and taking in different cultures has made me open minded and has given me more knowledge and understanding than my degree.
Handling way more than I thought I was capable of
Travelling alone is not an easy journey but once you make it through the hard times you can put the newly found capabilities to practice in everyday life.