When I was younger (we’re talking like 4 years ago here), I never pictured myself as the type of person to take on the world solo. I never imagined exploring cities and crossing countries on my own. I sort of always figured that travelling was something that I’d always do with someone else. I mean, wouldn’t you want to make all these new memories and experiences with your best friends or your family or your partner? Having only ever travelled with family, I was naive.
This entire outlook drastically underwent a make over (hoo-rah for growing up!) last year while I was living in Spain. I knew that my schedule wouldn’t always coincide with my friends and I didn’t want to waste opportunities to travel so I bit the bullet and booked my first solo trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. And I am so glad that I did. I would go far as to say that traveling solo has been the greatest thing I have done, for me, thus far.
These are my top 5 reasons for only booking one plane ticket:
Do everything your way. What you want, when you want without having the hassle of worrying about what someone else wants to do or making sure everyone is satisfied. You don’t need to forgo seeing the Trevi Fountain because your friends want to take a guided tour around the Colosseum instead (not that there’s anything wrong with that either). You are the master of your day, of your week, of your entire trip. Want to take a rest day? Do it. Want to book a last minute bus to Bratislava? Do it. No one is stopping you.
- Meeting other people comes more naturally
When you are with another person or even a group of people, you’re in your comfort zone. The need .. or want for that matter, to meet others significantly lessens. You don’t realise that by doing this, you are stopping yourself from a plethora of opportunities to meet and interact with others. We often forget how nourishing it is to have a conversation with someone who we do not know, who does not come from where are from, who does not share the same cultures or beliefs as us. You do not realise how much you can learn from some one else just by having a conversation with them. Imagine how much you can learn and get out of another person or people by exploring a new city with them! This was my favourite part of traveling by myself. I was forced to say hi first and it always turned out to be great.
- Self discovery and self reflection
Amongst the many lessons that were learnt last year, one of the biggest, life-altering lessons that came my way was learning who I was. I understand how cliché this sounds, ‘discovering myself’ on my ‘year abroad’ (settle petal) but there’s really no other way of putting it. When all you have is you in a foreign place and the only familiarity you have is you, you are stuck with yourself. You learn how you are in certain situations, you figure out more and more about yourself and how you work – what makes you tick. Of course “Me” time is essential to have a balanced lifestyle, but being put in a foreign context exemplifies this fact. And after all of this, you grow as a person.
Being on your own and having no one else to rely on puts you in certain circumstances where you have no choice but to step up to the plate. You’d be surprised at what you can actually achieve! Things you thought you could never do or never had the courage to try, have all of a sudden made their way to your ‘done and dusted’ list (psh, no sweat) and the feeling that comes with it is, well, empowering. The sense of accomplishment is intoxicating and will make you feel like you can take on anything that comes your way (which you should already know you can btw), like sky-diving in the Swiss Alps or white-water rafting in Rotorua .. or you know, asking for a table for one at that restaurant you wanted to try round the corner, cause why not!
- New perspective
Everyone possesses preconceived notions of how things are – it cannot be helped. It is human nature. But once you take a trip on your own, the way you see your life, your situation, your issues, your worries all change. Or mine did anyway. Overcoming obstacles (whether it be trying to find your way in a foreign country that speaks next to no english or dealing with gastro while staying in a 10 share hostel room*) on your own made you feel like whatever issues you have at home were completely invalid. Seeing how other cultures are makes you reflect on your own country and your own practices. It’s as refreshing as looking up every once in a while.
*may or may not have happened. I will not confirm this.