I sat on the bus as it rattled through the city streets, gripping onto the oversized backpack that sat in my lap. As I looked out the window, trying to figure out which stop to get off at, I wondered what exactly I was doing. I was alone, in a foreign country, with no internet and a brain that was entirely inept at reading maps. A small part of me was exhilarated, but mostly I was terrified.
You would think I was in some faraway, exotic country. It felt like it to me, but nope, I was in New Zealand, just a few hours away from my home in Australia. However I was young, naive and had never been out of the country before.
It’s cliché but that experience of solo travel was life changing. I’m a firm believer that everyone should travel alone at least once in their life, and here’s why.
Why you should travel solo
It makes you more independent
With the absence of having someone else to rely on, you are forced to fend for yourself. From buying plane and bus tickets, to finding accommodation and navigating around cities, you will quickly learn to do it all.
It can be an incredibly freeing feeling to realise that you are capable of so much more than you realised. Whilst I love travelling with my partner now, I know that I can be totally independent if I need to be.
Your confidence will grow
We all know that meeting new people can be intimidating, and honestly quite scary. Travelling solo will push you out of your comfort zone, and making friends will become a necessity unless you want to spend the whole trip truly alone.
This was something I was pretty worried about before my trip. However I quickly learnt that most travellers are eager to meet new people, and making friends wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
You can do exactly what you want, when you want
With no one else to compromise with, your trip can be exactly what you want it to be. You can do as much or as little as you like ,and there’s a certain freedom in that.
Solo travel really lets you tap into your desires, and teaches you to listen to yourself. You can spend the whole day exploring, or you can spend the whole day chilling out with a good book. It really is entirely up to you!
It challenges old narratives
Travelling solo really makes you examine that stories you tell yourself. You know the ones, ‘I’m bad at making new friends”, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “people will look at me weird for being by myself”.
I had ALL of these stories in my head. Traveling alone will force you to confront these stories, and you will soon realise that they are just that, stories.
It can be truely transformative to change these narratives, and I think it’s one of the most powerful aspects about solo travel.
You will learn to be okay with feeling lonely and uncomfortable
It is likely that you will feel self conscious. You will feel lonely and unsure of yourself. Ultimately though, you will learn to sit with these uncomfortable feelings, and will realise that they’re totally okay.
It is impossible to make your way through life without feeling uncomfortable. Being able to handle these feelings is a skill you will be able to carry with you throughout your entire life.
It’s just really fun
Most importantly, solo travel is just so much fun! Exploring new places, meeting people from all over the world, experiencing true freedom. Even the mishaps (like getting lost with no internet) will become a fun memory!
As you can see, traveling solo can be scary, but also beautiful and transformative. I would love to know what lessons you have learnt through solo travel!