Solo travel is on the up – and more women in particular are finding this way of seeing the world a lot safer and more accessible. This is mainly down to the huge number of services available to increase the safety and allure of travelling alone.
But once you take the plunge, and go travelling on your own, there’s so many life lessons to be learnt. Thanks to the holiday experts at Travelbag, we look at the changes that happen when we go out on a limb and explore new terrain by ourselves.
You learn that the vast majority of people are good
Dipping into a new culture might adjust mindsets you didn’t even know were there. Visit a deeply religious culture like Bangladesh or Yemen, and you’ll realise that the people there are just like you. You laugh at the same things, you worry about the same things, you love, get angry, get sad and celebrate all the same things.
Often it is easy to think that countries mark a radically different type of people, but the truth is, that’s all nonsense, and the vast majority of us are good, want the best for others and are always willing to help.
You learn to trust your gut
Your gut feeling is very powerful and should never be dismissed or ignored. When you’re on your own, your instinct will help you make some important decisions – should I speak to that person? Should I go to that place? Which route should I take?
Countless travellers all agree that this can help you avoid some hairy situations.
You learn to cover every eventuality
This will come with time, but after any set back, you learn to cover your back if the same thing should happen again. That means doing things like carrying a scanned copy of your passport, writing down a list of important phone numbers (ie. Not relying on your mobile which can get lost, damaged or stolen), carrying emergency cash on your person in case you lose your wallet – that kind of thing.
This makes you extremely self-reliant – which makes you an even better traveller!
You learn to make friends
For many people, the idea of approaching total strangers does not appeal. A lot of us would rather stick with a group of friends and stay in our comfort zone. But, when you’re travelling solo, you’re on your own and approaching a group of strangers somehow feels a bit more of a necessity.
There are various services available out there which can help aid meeting fellow soloists, but there are ways of helping yourself in these situations – don’t be glued to your mobile phone, join the chatty table at breakfast time, and learn not to be afraid of starting a conversation with people – what’s the worst that can happen?!
You develop your lust for life
Travelling broadens the mind, but solo travelling also helps nurture a life affirming idea about what living and the way you interact with the world and people is about. Doing things by yourself instills a pride in your own abilities, a huge sense of courage and a curiosity about the rest of the world, other cultures and communities.
This is suppressed when we’re at home, going to work every day and hanging out with the same bunch of friends. Stepping out of this routine is important for the way you view your own life.
Being OK about being alone
Some people like solitude – others cannot bear to spend time on their own. Being OK with being alone is extremely important to general happiness. You cannot rely on other people to provide your happiness, you need to be able to enjoy time by yourself.
Travelling solo involves vast amounts of time on your own, and if anything can break down that fear of being alone, it’s by packing your bags and jetting of somewhere solo. Sometimes, it might feel lonely, but that’s part of the journey – so don’t fight it. Embrace it and learn to love your own company.
You can work out what you really want
Travelling solo involves lots of time waiting, flying, on buses and in hotel rooms. This allows you a lot of thinking time. If you’re currently facing a crossroads in life, feel ambivalent about a relationship or your career, seeing the world by yourself will allow you the time and space to mull things over.
You will meet people from all walks of life who will provide endless inspiration for how you want to live your life.
Take the risk, be inspired, chase the dream – travelling solo gives you the courage to change your life for the better.