Granted, travelling alone is not for everybody, but I do think everyone should travel solo at least once in their lives. My first solo trip was when I was 19; I travelled alone to France to go work on a campsite for the summer. When I was 26, I decided to go a bit further, to the other of the world from where I live: I went backpacking in New Zealand for 2 months on my own.
My backpack adventure to New Zealand was my first intercontinental trip alone and it was when I really got contaminated with the travel bug. I was going through a break-up, I needed some head space and time away. I had always wanted to go to NZ, so I saved some money, I booked a ticket and I went. It was one of the best decision ever as I had the time of my life, made friends, cleared my mind, and was able to look at my ‘normal’ life at home from a distance (literally) for a bit: my job, my living situation, my personal relationships. It helped me get through that tough post break-up time tremendously too.
I am forever thankful though that my 26-year-old self took the decision to go travelling alone and I think everyone should do that at some point in their lives, either for a shorter or a longer period of time.
This is why I believe everyone should travel alone at least once:
1. It teaches you a lot about yourself
Mainly: it teaches you to be at ease with yourself, with your own company and to rely on yourself. Going to the cinema on my own or having dinner alone in a restaurant does not bother me anymore. If people wonder and stare, I let them; I will likely never see them again anymore anyway – same with wearing heels.. 😉
2. It is easier to connect with people when you travel by yourself
When travelling with someone, you are always in some way, shape or form focused on each other. When you are alone, you’re more likely to start a chat with the restaurant owner, with that other girl who is having coffee by herself too, or with a hot local guy. Who knows what connection you might make?
3. You will appreciate the things you normally take for granted
Regardless of where you go, they will not have the same things you have at home. Sometimes that’s something minor like your favourite brand of toothpaste, sometimes it’s something bigger like running water or electricity.
4. You can do whatever you like, when you like
No one tells you what to do or when to do it; you do not have to account for anything. If you want to go see a sunrise at 5am, you can. Maybe you want to stay in bed all day, you can do that too. If you like it somewhere and want to stay a few days longer, there is no one telling you to move. And that is so liberating.
5. You have to (learn to) make your own decisions
There is no one to rely on or to fall back on, you choose whether you go left or right. It’s just you, following your gut, or to give it a more wanderlusty vibe: following the sun. This can be hard when you are more a ‘follower’ than a ‘leader’, but for that reason alone it’s worth doing, as it gets you out of you comfort zone. Plus there’s no right or wrong in the decision of where to go.
6. Distance creates perspective
Being able to literally take distance from your ‘normal’ life, gives it perspective. Distance can give you a new appreciation for the things you have going on in your life at home, and helps you see the bigger picture. You will quickly notice what the things and people are you miss most or more importantly, who and what you don’t miss at all…