I had just turned 19 when I decided to go on my first solo trip. Back then, no one in my social circle had been travelling solo, especially not to Vietnam. I remember responding to every question relating to whether I was scared (or just plain nuts) : "No, I'm excited." Which I was, right up until I said goodbye to my mum at the airport and passed through security. Suddenly, I was scared and uncertain. However, on that trip, and every trip since, I learned that there are a few reasons why everyone should travel solo at least once in their life.
You Will Learn New Things About Yourself
For example, I detest coriander. I didn't figure that one out until the first time I visited Thailand, where they put coriander in virtually everything. I am also much more capable of simple social talk and making friends than I thought. I have no doubt that there is something special about you.; something that you will discover once you are on the road by yourself. It might be that you love being on your own, that you terribly miss you pet/best friend/mom, or that you never want to travel with anyone else ever again. Or maybe all of these.
You Will Learn to Trust Your Instincts
Solo travelers can be an easy target for people with bad intentions. Whether to rip you off, steal your stuff, or do you bodily harm, there are risks associated with traveling to an unknown destination alone. Though doing research before you leave and using your instincts will protect you from most serious risks. You will come to rely upon your gut feeling. you know, that funny feeling in you stomach? That's the one you should trust. I remember walking on a busy street in Cambodia when a couple drove past on a scooter and the wife started talking to me; they crossed the street through busy traffic and started driving right next to me. It was odd and my stomach started to feel strange.
I decided to get away from them asap. I still believe that it was the right choice. Trust your instincts and stay away from overly risky situations. At the same time, try to recognize and appreciate rare chances to do something amazing or get to know locals and local culture. In my experience, the majority of humans are kind, funny, and helpful. Stay safe, but don't miss out. Trust your instincts.
You Are Much Stronger Than You Think
You will probably get sick; some of your stuff might end up missing.; some hostel might lose your reservation. In short, stuff will go wrong. When you are traveling solo, there is no one to fall back on. You have to get your own medicine, file your own police report, and find your own place to sleep.
All of these things happened to me. I remember thinking every time, “Hey I can deal with this.” Turns out I can., and you probably can too. Learning this will make you feel empowered and this empowerment will carry over into other parts of your life. Because, if you can handle all of this, you can handle that challenging dream job, that messy break-up, or another loss.
You Will Learn to Ask For Help
And, you will find out most people are willing to help.
I believe knowing that you are in over your head, and when to ask for help, are critical skills. It's perfectly alright to be overwhelmed, or not know how to do something. It is only when we fail to ask for help in time that there might be serious consequences.
It wasn't until I lost both my passport and my bank cards on a trip that I learned how helpful strangers can be. Looking back, losing my stuff changed the experience. It has also given me some good stories to tell at parties. Which reminds me...
Traveling Solo is So Much Fun
You will meet new people, hear all kinds of travel stories, and have so much fun. You will probably get addicted to it and start making new travel plans before even returning home. Every time I travel somewhere overland, I will listen to some tunes and get these butterflies in my stomach. It is a feeling of being both excited and content that nothing else in the world gives me.
Traveling Solo Will Change Your Life
…and I don't think you will want to go back to the way it was before.
Sandra inspires and encourages others to travel independently. After years of solo travel, it is time to share all this experience with you. If you love reading travel stories and can use some insightful advice for your own travels, please visit the blog. firstname.lastname@example.org