I have now done several trips by myself and people are always surprised when I have said I was traveling alone. ‘Why?’ they’d ask. ‘Won’t you get lonely?’, they’d say. But really that was just their own projections, their own feelings. I enjoy time by myself. I live a pretty social life with my work so time to just be silent on my own terms, is always welcome.
Just recently I found the journal of my first solo trip, almost 10 years ago, to Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand. What a life changing experience that was, and why? Because I was by myself. The people I met, the self reflection I underwent, was life changing. I came back to the UK, left my secure job at a newspaper in London, and literally hit the road and moved to the absolutely alien planes of the UAE.
I have since done several other such trips, and while I LOVE to travel with someone else, that someone else has to really be the right person. Traveling, much like living together, can put the strain on even the strongest relationships. So while you may have to learn to take those pretty Instagram photos yourself (more on that in a new blog!), here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t fear packing your bags and traveling solo.
- Freedom: There is nothing like the freedom of making your own itinerary, getting up when you like, going where you like, stopping when you like. In a life where we often have schedules, professional and personal, where we have to always make compromises and find the middle ground, this is a rare luxury we don’t often get to indulge in.
- Self discovery: You learn so much about yourself when suddenly you are alone. How happy are you in your own company? Most of us usually surround ourselves with others, and don’t really spend time alone. This is a great experience to really get to spend time with YOU.
- Empowerment: Most people feel scared to travel alone but really, once you’ve done it once, you start to get the hang of it. Yes, you have to consider issues like safety, especially as a woman, so destination choice is key, but wouldn’t you think about safety issues even with a travel buddy? Can’t we get pick pocketed even when we’re with others? Is it really that different being alone? I started out by going to a retreat, Kamalaya, so at least had a base where I would meet people if I wanted to and had a structure of activities available to me so there are ways to ease yourself into it. Maybe you have a friend living in another country or city, maybe it’s a friend of a friend, but tap them up, ask them to meet for a coffee, to show you around and at least get you your bearings. You’ll be amazed at how welcoming the world is when you just ask.
- Meeting new people: You are so much more likely to meet new people and discover new things when you’re alone. When we travel with a companion, we remain in that little bubble. When you’re alone, suddenly people talk to you, you speak to other people. That person beside you on the bus suddenly tells you a fascinating life story, the person perched on the bar stool next to you shares with you a secret nugget to go and see the next day, while the dudes at the Muay Thai fight become like old friends in a matter of hours (yep, speaking from experience, Muay Thai fighting in Thailand is an awesome place to meet cool people!).
Have you traveled alone? I would love to hear your stories!
So this year, maybe it’s time to let go of the fears, forget what anyone else says about traveling alone, and put on your wings.