The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before – Albert Einstein.
It is incredible just how many people are able to travel the world these days. Yes, not everyone can travel willy nilly whether that is due to work commitments, money struggles, family duties or whatever. I, myself, saved for two years before I booked that one way ticket to Australia, and then worked and saved a further eleven months before I got on the plane. It took a lot of time and a lot of effort – and not only funding it, but mentally and emotionally too – to get to that point where I waved goodbye to my parents at the airport and set off on my solo adventure across the world.
Travelling on your own allows you to grow as an individual. I see myself as an only child; I have always been independent, enjoying my own space and my own time, which is probably why I strived to take this trip alone. However, I have always relied on other people, way too much in some ways. My parents are always there to catch me if I fall, and to get me out of sticky situations if I really need it just as my partner is and my close friends, too. Through travelling to a foreign country, I was able to rely on myself and myself alone – for the majority of the time, I’ll admit. When it came to the end of my east coast travels, it was time to get a job and to get one fast, so I went onto Gumtree and applied for bar jobs, pretty much anywhere. I was willing to travel for money. I had to be.
Not only does it allow you to rely on yourself, because you really have to when you are travelling solo, it allows you to grow in a way that is spiritual and emotional. It makes you stronger and more determined in the many paths that life presents to you at the crossroads. Everything that happens, happens for a reason and that is to either reflect on it with happiness and be proud of that moment, or it is to make you learn a lesson, just as life does so in any other situation if you were at home.
Of course, you always have a choice and if you have a few too many cocktails and shots during a big night out with new friends that makes you want to hug the hostel toilet forever, you know that the next drinking choice you make will be not to have so many. Therefore, a lesson is learned and I feel like you actually do learn the lesson more so when you are abroad, especially on your own, because you are out of your comfort zone, and sometimes the world can be a scary place so you are more likely to have your wits about you. Therefore, you become a little older in yourself, a little wiser, and as much as we all make stupid mistakes sometimes (and will continue to do so until we are old and grey), you’ll learn to make the better choice for you.
Visiting new places, experiencing different cultures and doing things you would have never dreamed of putting yourself forward for before is a big part of travelling solo. I feel that when you travel with somebody, you are still comfortable with that piece of home – which is an amazing feeling – but you may be less likely to push yourself beyond your limits. I know this from experience. If I hadn’t joined my west coast trip alone, I don’t think I would have applied myself to experience it as much as I did with the others in the group. That is to say I would have stuck to the person I knew best, and I wouldn’t have gotten to know the others in the way that I did as a solo traveller. This is how the best friendships are made…
… which brings me to my next point. When you travel solo, you’re more likely to make better friendships with the people you meet. This is because you literally cling onto them for dear life! The people I met, as in those who I travelled with and lived with, became friends for life, simply because they were the people I turned to for a brunch outing, a drink or two, to cry to when I was missing home, to laugh with when something went wrong, to stress with when my bank funds were extremely low and every other kind of emotion that comes in between. You rely on these friendships so much as a solo traveller which in turn makes you a better friend to those around you and even to those at home because you know how life can get pretty scary pretty quickly, and you don’t want anybody else to ever feel alone in the world.
Another reason to travel solo is definitely to build your confidence, and I feel like this may be the the most important one; or at least level pegging with growing as a person. I think that I am a confident person with those I know and those I know really well; or I can fake confidence when I have to like in an interview room. In reality, I’m shy and it takes me a while to build up the confidence to speak to new people. You wouldn’t think that of a barmaid, a retail assistant or a budding journalist who has spoken to actors, singers and directors but it’s true. Travelling on your own literally thrusts you into the big wide world where you have to talk to random people you have never met before, even if it is just to ask somebody to take a picture of you at an incredible place. It took me twenty five minutes to pluck up the courage to ask a stranger to take a photo of me at the Twelve Apostles when I was there alone, and it happened only because they were struggling to take a selfie of themselves with the gorgeous backdrop.
It is scary, terrifying but equally thrilling and all of the emotions and past obstacles are worth it for you to whisper to yourself, I did it.
There are plenty of other reasons for you to travel solo, but these are my personal favourites. I can look back on my solo adventure and say to myself: I am brave and I am courageous and I have learnt a lot – which you may see in a different post in the future!
What are your reasons for travelling solo?
Love, Faye x