I used to think that I could never go solo travelling. You see, I don’t fit the stereotype of a solo backpacker. I’m not the loudest, the bravest or the most adventurous. I’m just a girl who loves to travel and my decision to go solo travelling was prompted purely by the fact that I wanted to do it on my own terms.
However, it turns out that I am a solo traveller and what’ s more, I’m actually a pretty good one. Solo travelling is now something I do regularly and it’s not just enriched my life, it’s completely changed it. Here’s how.
I’ve become way more confident
One of the biggest things that surprised me about solo travelling was how much more confident it made me from the get-go. Travelling alone forced me to take control, ask questions and make decisions, even when I didn’t feel that I could. At first, I was just acting: going from A to B and pretending that I knew what I was doing. Then after a while of playing the part, I finally did.
It’s taught me how to make friends with strangers
Solo travelling has thrown me into these weird and potentially awkward situations that I wouldn’t usually experience in day to day life. Scenarios include; going out for lunch, a night out, or wandering around a city with someone that I’ve literally just met. Travelling and in particular, solo travelling has helped me feel at ease with making friends and striking up a conversation with someone I don’t know.
A big misconception about solo travelling is that It’s lonely but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Solo travelling is actually one of the easiest ways to meet people and the only times that I’m alone are when I choose to be.
It’s taught me how to be independent
Before I went solo travelling, I was a lot more dependent on other people than I am now. From trying to force friends to do everything from holidays to lunch dates, I was convinced that I needed to share everything I did with someone else. Now I still regularly for coffee or a meal out with my friends but if someone bails on lunch at the last minute, that’s ok, I’ll still be going regardless.
I’ve learnt how to ask for help
Knowing how and when to ask is something that most of us struggle with in day to day life, myself included. The thing about solo travelling is that it’s virtually impossible to do it and not ask for help. Whether it’s asking for directions, help with the currency, recommendations of things to do or even just getting someone to help put my rucksack in the overhead compartment, sometimes I just need that extra pair of hands.
It’s taught me how to deal with loneliness
No matter how many trips I take, there usually comes a time when I’m solo travelling that the inevitable happens: I feel lonely. Loneliness is something we all feel from time to time and travelling has taught how to recognise these feelings and it has helped me develop coping mechanisms to deal with it. When travelling, it’s important to remember that friends and family are only a call away, and also that new friends are just around the corner.
It has shown me what I want to do in my life
Above all, solo travelling has given me the chance to get to know myself and really feel comfortable in my own skin. In particular, being able to travel according to my own schedule meant that I had a little more free time which prompted me to start writing down my travel stories as I went. Through doing that, solo travelling has helped me come to the realisation that writing, and in particular writing about travel, is something that I would like to do for a career.
For all of these reasons and more, I owe solo travelling a lot. I definitely wasn’t born a solo traveller but through every wrong turn, each new hostel, impromptu night out and every overnight bus, I became one. Now solo travelling isn’t just a hobby, it’s a part of who I am and amongst a ton of memories, it has given me dreams, values and attributes that I never had before.