When was the last time you traveled alone? If you’re anything like me, you’d probably be uncomfortable with the idea of setting off into the unknown on your own. I used to be scared by the idea of traveling alone. I think there’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit worried about the idea of going solo in unfamiliar places. There’ll always be that part of us that wants some measure of comfort even as traveling already pushed us to step out of our I-feel-safe-here zone. It wasn’t until I finally took the leap that I began to understand how liberating and uplifting solo travel can be. For me, the following are some of the best things about solo travel:
1. A time for self-discoveries. I thought I knew myself to the core until I traveled solo. I went to Bangkok on my own because a friend who was supposed to go with me backed out at the last minute. I was tempted to cancel the trip. I haven’t gone on a trip by myself before. I tend to travel with a group or at least with someone even within the country. I couldn’t imagine traipsing in a city thousands of miles away by myself. But for some reason, I went ahead with the trip. After making some adjustments from the initial plans, I set off into what turned out to be one of the best adventures I’ve had in my life. It was during this trip that I discovered more about myself. I learned that I can rely on myself to get through tough situations. Going solo also taught me that I enjoy the freedom of being alone.
2. Getting comfortable in my own skin. I’m a fairly independent person. But it wasn’t after my first solo travel that I realized that I wasn’t as independent as I imagined myself to be. The responsibilities of planning a trip and taking charge of everything that’s need while on the road are often spread around everyone in the group. But when you’re alone, you have to do everything on your own. And sometimes, you don’t have what you need at the moment to make things easier for you. I’ve experienced this while in Bangkok. I couldn’t rely on anyone I know for help. It’s either I do things on my own or reach out the kind people around me who proved to be willing to lend a hand to a stranger. The experience made me more comfortable in my own skin.
3. Facing fears head-on. I’m not good at following directions. I had fears of getting lost and failing to find my way back. So the idea of solo traveling is discomfiting at best. The great thing about traveling with a group is that if we do get lost, we’d at least have each other as we try to figure things out. It was only when I was exploring on my own that I learned to face that fear head-on. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually ran into a bit of trouble going back to my hotel after getting myself lost walking around the area. But I managed to get back on trap with the help of some helpful locals.
4. Making new friends. Solo travel encouraged me to get out of my shell when traveling. Without the company of family or friends, I began talking to strangers more. I’ve met travelers from many countries in the world. I’ve learned about their culture and some even became friends. I’m happy to say that I now have more friends in different continents than I used to have before my solo trips.
5. Making my own choices. Group travel is about compromise. The more number of people in the group, the more adjustments everyone has to make. It’s a great thing because of the diverse experiences we get from doing the things we wouldn’t have thought of if we’re alone. But the downside of this is that I tend to miss out on the things I really want to do. With soloing though, I make my own choices. I can squeeze in whatever I want in my itinerary. And there’s always room for randomness. I find that this makes traveling a lot more fun.
6. It’s safer than I thought. I was focused on the dangers of solo travel which was part of the reason why I was against the idea before. But I learned that despite the risks involved, it’s safer than I thought. I just need to be more careful with my choices. I’ve found the balance of staying alert without being really scared to explore new things. And I make sure that I listen to advice especially on the ground.