The first time you travel solo can be a nerve-wracking experience. Possibly, for the first time in your life, you only have yourself to rely on. There’s the little experiences, like not having anyone to look after your bag when you go to the airport bathroom. Then, there’s the big ones, like finding yourself stranded with nowhere to sleep at midnight, because you’ve been locked out of your hostel.
So why exactly is this so addictive? Quite simply, because there’s something totally unbeatable about conquering challenges on your own. About living by the seat of your pants, choosing your own adventures, rules and schedules and being solely accountable for everything that happens. And that, as all solo travelers know, is the true meaning of freedom.
1. You’ll Learn How To Lead
You’re the director, producer and actor in the movie that is your life, but, in the chaos of everyday moments, this can be hard to remember. The second you embark on solo travel, you understand the true meaning of being entirely responsible for yourself. You’re in charge of every decision and there’s nothing more empowering than discovering how capable you are.
2. You’ll Abandon Your Comfort Zones
Traveling solo is always an expansive experience, as it shatters pre-conceived concepts of the world with each step you take into the unknown. New doors open up at every stop, in a way that’s not always visible when you’re occupied with travel companions.
You’re more inclined to talk to strangers and you’ll notice more people will want to connect with you. Left to your own devices, you’ll try things you’ve never even considered and your ‘comfort zones’ will soon be a thing of the past.
3. You’ll Get To Reinvent Yourself
At home, you might be the shy one in your group of friends, the one who picks up everyone’s slack, the gardener, the computer whiz or the serious academic. When you travel solo, no one knows, or cares, about the labels attached to you. You can become an adventurer, a photographer, a farmer, a diver. Whatever appeals to you, just take your pick!
You’ll discover things about yourself that haven’t had the space to appear in your busy home life. The freedom to reinvent yourself and grow, without any input from people you know or past experiences, is seriously addictive in the best possible way.
4. You’ll Learn To Live In The Present Moment
There’s nothing like gazing at an awe-inspiring, foreign landscape on your own and knowing you only have a few, precious moments to soak it in. You can’t take the landscape home with you and you might not ever return.
Without your friend next to you, chatting your ear off, you become totally immersed in the present moment. It’s just you and the earth. Travelling solo gives you the space to truly appreciate each moment, through your eyes alone.
5. You’ll Learn How To Spot Trouble From A Distance
A more attuned ‘trouble radar’ seems to exist for those of us who love to travel on our own. You have to be more careful about your belongings, about heading out at night and about trusting people. Because of this, you develop the ability to spot trouble from a distance, before it enters your world.
This is an invaluable skill for future travels and one that’s carried over into your life in general.
6. You’ll Discover What’s Important In Life
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
In the daily grind of jobs, money, other people’s dramas and your own endless thoughts on it all, it’s easy to get bogged down in issues that seem huge, but really lack substance and learning potential. Travelling solo means you can forget about what day it is, what time it is, about fitting in with what someone else’s plans or talking about what’s going on with Susie in the office next to yours.
You can forget about expectations and even aspirations that take you away from living life, right now, into a future projection of it. You can enjoy the simple pleasures of savoring exotic food for as long as you want, basking in the curious smile of a local child and letting your mind run free towards the next destination.
When you return home, all those ‘big’ issues will have faded into oblivion under an avalanche of freedom and aliveness. You’ll view the world with fresh, empowered eyes. And that’s the ultimate addiction.