I've travelled to 24 countries thus far and 60% of those trips were done solo. I couldn't be happier for making that conscious choice. Not to say I don't love travelling with friends, it's just an entirely different experience.
It's hard to describe the depth of value of seeing the world through your eyes and your eyes only. But I'll try.
Independence grows on you.
You do the things you want to do, when you want to do them without consulting anyone else. This freedom makes you more confident and flexible.
While living solo in Bali, I was able to throw in a five day trip to Thailand or take off on a mapless scooter adventure in search of natural infinity pools overlooking postcard landscapes, when I wanted to.
Traveling alone allows you to change your circumstances on a whim, where the only thing that matters is making yourself happy, and growing a pair to do something bold on your own.
Down to wing it.
You have no fixed plans travelling solo, unexpected experiences are the only constant during your visit. When I checked into Bali solo, everyday was different than the day before. If I dined alone and got a good vibe from the person sitting next to me, I would spark up a conversation, next thing I know, we're off to an outdoor screening for a local film, followed by hitting up the nearest dive bar with the director and their friends. Now not only did I make a handful of new friends, but I also discovered a new part of town.
By winging it, half the fun and excitement is not knowing what will come your way next!
Live outside of your comfort zone.
Being in your comfort zone provides mental security, which equals routine. Travelling is the opposite of routine which equals uncertainty. Uncertainty can be mindblowing or scary as f*ck, regardless of the outcome what matters is challenging yourself. It's sort of like getting comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.
Forced to figure sh*t out on your own.
My friends will confirm, I'm not the best navigator, but put me in a foreign country by myself and I will get to that one out-of-the-way spot that doles out the best passion fruit ginger creme brulee in town. Travelling solo, you have to pay attention to landmarks where there are no streets signs, because if you don't no one else will. You have to be responsible for yourself, whereas when I travel with friends, I become reliant on them to figure sh*t out.
Know yourself better.
Each time you travel solo, you uncover more about yourself. It could be as simple as discovering a new flavour and now knowing you like it to uncovering a new skill that can be applied to your real life. Travelling solo measures your strengths and weaknesses, uncovers your likes and dislikes and tests your patience and fears. It's one-on-one time with yourself, outside your hometown, naturally self discovery will happen . . . maybe even some clarity on what you want in life will ensue.
You become more understanding of people as a whole. You grow awareness of other's cultures and stories, and take note of how unique or similar someone else's life is to what you know.
Travelling isn't always sunshine and sandwiches, it can get physically and mentally stressful, but it opens your mind because you're learning along the way, therefore becoming smarter in the process.
"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind." -- Anthony Bourdain
Connect with people you wouldn't have met otherwise.
This is definitely one of the best perks about travelling. Having travelled to 24 countries, I now have friends in 24 countries. You learn from these people and discover how they live. Through engaging in conversations with new people, you're able to expand your vocabulary, learn new expressions, and understand life through someone else's experiences which is invaluable in terms of expanding your own mind.
Plus, travelling solo makes it easier to be approached by others and forces you to be social by making the first move. As a solo traveller you also rely on the kindness of strangers. And you realize how many kind people there actually are in the world. This is something we tend to forget when we're stuck in our routine bubbles at home.
Reset your life.
Travelling allows you reset. We all need to press the restart button on ourselves from time to time. Traveling solo allows you to take a three hour brunch, where half of the time is spent enjoying a meal and the other half is spent people watching and daydreaming, without feeling guilty. Basically you're slowing down to enjoy the moment.
Also, travelling solo teaches you to live with less things. You come back home realizing how many things you don't need to make you happy and healthy.
Travelling gives you a boost of energy to get out there and do stuff. You fall in love with things the country has that you don't have back home, anything from the brightness of the sun, to the wafting smells in the streets, the exotic flavours, the landscape designs, the noises, the traditions, the textiles or the colours. All these things inspire, flooding your mind with wild ideas and imagination, and maybe a little drive.
Connecting with the country means connecting with the people. It's odd how misunderstood some places are in the world until you visit them yourself and have enticing conversations with the people that are also there.
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