Why You Should Travel Solo At Least Once

And I’m not talking about taking a weekend trip by yourself to the next biggest city you can think of. No, I am talking travelling by yourself, out into the world to see its wonders and have an experience that will leave you forever changed.

You don’t think you have what it takes? You don’t know if you have what it takes? Why don’t we find out together? I tell you why you should go and you decide, if you want to have those experiences and if you are human enough to see the world in all its glory even when you’re all alone.

No one arrives at the decision to travel overnight. Often it is a simmering desire just beneath the surface. Whenever you walk past a travel agency you find yourself slowing down and skimming over the latest offers. You probably walk on, but you wish you would have just walked in and booked something, anything.

Every reminder of a distant country whilst you are living your life at home will stoke the fire within and one day, quite out of the blue you may think, you decide, nay, you know that you must travel.

There will come a point when you will realize that you may not go anywhere unless you go by yourself. You will realize that you want to go somewhere for longer than two weeks. Perhaps you want to combine several destinations into one trip. It is not unlikely that you will have heard about round-the-world trips at that stage and the possibility of buying a ticket that will drop you off at different destinations around the world, according to your itinerary.

Most people don’t get to this stage. If you’ve made it this far you probably have what it takes to travel. The very first thing you will learn during the preparations for your trip, no matter how far it is meant to take you or how much time you hope to be away, is this: resourcefulness.

You will read a lot about long-term and round-the-world-trips. And whilst you are reading you will find yourself planning along and ahead, thinking of a million things that need to be done in advance and that you will need to remember on the road.

With the realization of your own resourcefulness will come a hitherto unknown confidence. Every obstacle that you overcome even before you set out on your trip will make you feel more secure in the knowledge that you will be able to pull it off. Many people will tell you how brave you are for doing this and that they would never dare to just leave their job and home behind. And then they will tell you that they wish they could go too.

But you don’t feel particularly brave. You will feel increasingly more excited, but also a little daunted. And you may still wish every now and then that you wouldn’t go by yourself, but with someone.

Go by yourself anyway.

Once you are a few weeks into your trip you will realize that it’s not actually that bad. You will sleep in dorms, because you are on a budget. If you sleep in mixed dorms, you meet guys and gals, which is more rewarding than sleeping in a single sex room. You will meet new people constantly. You won’t like all of them, but you will make friends for life. Take it from this introvert. I’m not one to put myself out there when I am anywhere that I call home. But by travelling on my own I leave my comfort zone so far behind that I don’t even know where it is anymore.

When I need time by myself, I will find some. Not all of us are extroverts, after all. But if I can do this, so can you.

You will meet people from all walks of life and you will find kindred spirits. You will find many others who are travelling by themselves. And you will watch couples, friends and even groups travel together for extended periods and wonder how they have managed not to kill each other yet.

You will come to cherish the fact that you are completely independent and can do whatever you want. If you don’t want to climb that mountain or plunge down that river in a plastic boat, you won’t have to argue about it with someone you are travelling with. You can just have a relaxing day in a hammock instead and read a book without worrying about what “we” should eat for dinner tonight.

You can change your itinerary without upsetting a single soul. You can stay away longer. You can settle down somewhere for a while, if you fall in love with the place, or perhaps with someone. You can go somewhere where you are allowed to work and find a job and have the satisfaction of being able to live a life somewhere that is not home. You can make a new home.

You can stand on top of a mountain by yourself and realize how small a living creature you are and how wonderful it is to be there. And you learn how to be by yourself and not need others. You will also learn that it’s perfectly okay to want others in your life.

What will surprise you most of all is the realization just how much home means to you. You will find a new appreciation for it. And you will see it with new eyes when you return.

But know this: you can never truly return. For you will have changed. Travel does that to you. It may not change you beyond recognition and perhaps family and friends will think you perfectly normal upon your return. But you will feel the difference.

Travelling with somebody you know is like carrying an anchor around that will bind you to the place you are coming from. You cannot truly escape it, though your travel will still affect you profoundly. Only by travelling by yourself will you have the experiences described above.

So the question really is: do you dare?

About the author

Anja

I left home eight and a half years ago to travel around the world for what I thought would be three years. I somehow ended up living a year in Melbourne, Australia, almost three years in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a year in Victoria, BC, Canada. In between I traveled slowly, but extensively. Just when I thought I’d go home and settle down for a bit, I ended up living in London working for one of the biggest online travel agencies there is. Needless to say travel holds my heart and when I finish my current trip around the world, I will have been to roughly thirty countries (“only” ten on this trip, though, seven of them for the first time). My first passion is, and always has been, writing. When I get back to Europe, I will continue to work on my freelance career, keep writing my own blogs and publish a novel one of these days, all whilst living on a houseboat, because settling down is not for me.