Ever since I read the book ‘Eat Pray Love’ in high school, I’ve romanticized the idea of traveling alone. But even before then, I think the fact that I grew up reading a lot of different books kind of led me here. I’m pretty sure I owe it to my mother who has always encouraged me to read anything and everything. Because in some way, being a bookworm at a young age sort of “trained” me to be accepting of the unfamiliar, as it opened the way for me to step into different lives and different worlds.
I’ve always been enticed by the notion of traveling – encountering people from different worlds, experiencing cultures that are different than my own, and learning things that I would have never learned if I never left the comfort of my home.
I guess you could say that I just always knew I wasn’t meant to stay in one place. I am an avid believer that this world is far too large, and life is a lot shorter than we think. We all have different values in life but personally, knowing that I’ve made an effort to experience and see as much of the world as much as possible is what will give me the reassurance that I’ve lived a fulfilled life.
To be honest, my first solo trip to Peru changed me in a way. It changed my values, beliefs, priorities… As corny as it may sound, it changed my perception on myself, my surroundings, and my overall life. Long story short, I then made the decision to make seeing this world a priority because one of my biggest dreams is to see almost-if-not-all of the wonders of the world, and one of my biggest fears is becoming complacent.
I know I wasn’t born to just pay bills and die.
Whenever a conversation with someone leads to the topic of solo traveling, I always encourage everyone to just f*cking do it. Because I get asked about it so often, I figured I’d share with you all a few ways solo travel changed me along with a few reasons why I think your next trip should be solo.
You Learn to Count on Yourself
I’d like to think I’ve been pretty independent for most of my life. I began working shit jobs as soon as I could when I turned 15. I can even recall purchasing my very first plane ticket with my first couple of pay checks to see my best friend who moved to Chicago. But aside from counting on myself financially, I think without realizing I’ve counted on those around me for emotional support. I was almost always in a relationship for a good 4 years or so, and it almost felt like I forgot how it felt to be completely on my own. If you’ve been in relationship, I’m sure you know how easy it could be to lose yourself in the process of loving someone else.
This all probably sounds cliché and corny, but I appreciate transparency and I hope you do to. It took a rough break up for me to bite the bullet and go forth with the trip I’ve been meaning to go on for years. I saved up for my travels for a long time, so I already had the funds. All I had to do was actually do the damn thing.
Man, it was the best decision I made in my life.
It wasn’t until I started traveling alone where I really felt like I could count on myself, love myself, and be completely OK with being alone. I became so comfortable with my own company, and that helped me to not depend on anyone else for anything. In this life, you must learn how to be one hunnid percent self sufficient. Traveling solo helped me with that. Maybe it could for you.
You’re Not Getting Any Younger
I’m 23 now and it still feels like it was just yesterday when I turned 18. One of my other biggest fears is time… And not having enough of it. Time is fleeting. And how quickly it fleets is truly terrifying. Our time on this Earth is so limited, and our lives are a lot shorter than we think. I know a handful of people who have told me that they’d rather grind in their 20’s and travel when they’re older, more established, with the proper funds to travel comfortably. It’s not difficult to see where they’re coming from, but I see traveling and vacationing as two different things.
When I travel, I don’t do luxurious things, relax at nice places, etc. And I actually like it like that. I enjoy staying in hostels and running out of clean clothes whilst running around with minimal sleep and rest, ticking things off my bucket list. I f*cking live for the adventures, griminess and the notion of making sacrifices in order to see/experience cool things and make lasting memories. I’d like to see as much of the world as I can, and experience all these things while I’m at the age to do it. It’s cliché to say that our 20s are our selfish years but it’s a cliché because of the amount of truth it holds.
Now is the most perfect time.
A Change of Scenery Allows you to See Things From a Different Perspective
I truly feel as if I returned home from my first solo trip to South America as a brand new person. My perspective on life as a whole changed so much and this was all thanks to the fact that I traveled alone. I don’t think that my experience in Peru would have been the same if I went with family or friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I think having company is great. But I also think that it can serve as a distraction from gaining the full, real experience of the destination you’re visiting. Getting a change of scenery, and doing it alone really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and connect with the place I was visiting. It changed how I viewed the world in inexplainable ways.
When I returned home, all the little, petty things I used to worry about were no longer important. I no longer cared about the things I used to care so deeply about. Like I’ve mentioned before, my values and priorities shifted in ways I never thought it would. I needed to experience this to truly start my journey of figuring out what it is that I want to do with my life.
You Get to Meet Others Vibing on the Same Frequency as You
If none of your homies are down to go somewhere or do something with you, don’t be afraid to go alone. By going alone, you’ll be surrounded by those with similar interests. It gives you an opportunity to make new friends with people who are vibing on the same frequency as you.
Traveling alone does not mean you’ll be alone 24/7. You’ll meet so many people along the way that could potentially have an impact on your overall trip, and maybe even your life! Throughout my solo trips so far, I’ve met so many beautiful souls and I like to take something from each one I encounter/engage with. There truly is this unexplainable connection all travelers seem to have. It’s difficult to translate into words, but you just feel it. Every traveler I’ve encountered all seem to have a similar outlook on life, and almost everyone you’ll meet will have an open mind.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting so many different people from all over the world, who all have one thing in common – the love and excitement for seeing the world. Each individual I’ve met along my journey have taught me something valuable, whether they were aware of it or not. I still keep in touch with many of them to this day, and it’s nice knowing that I have a friend to hit up in different countries, not to mention a couch I can crash on.
Talk to strangers. We’re all fam on this planet.
You’re the Master of Your Itinerary
I mean, who doesn’t love doing what they want, when they want, without having to abide to someone else’s decisions? Traveling alone gives you the freedom to do what you want to do, without accommodating to anyone else’s wants or needs.
I remember once when I woke up at 2AM to get ready for a full day of trekking, I stopped to think to myself how grateful I am to be here alone so I can do what others would say I’m crazy for doing. It feels so damn liberating to just have zero obligations and do whatever pleases your soul. You’re in charge of your own itinerary, and you get what you want out of the destination you are visiting.
You Get to Know Yourself a Little Better
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the inevitable phase of the whole “lost in your 20s’ feeling.” Some more than others. I know I did. That feeling hit me hard – still hits me hard – almost every damn day.
I think this is my most favorite reason to why I think everyone should travel alone. Solo traveling is so good for personal growth. I genuinely believe it to be essential. It allows you to learn new things about yourself that you may have not known prior to this trip alone, and you truly gain an appreciation for who you are. Traveling alone gives you more space to reflect on yourself and your life.
Once you know yourself a little better, it gives you more space to get a better idea on what you want out of this life.
What gets you excited?
It Builds Character and Confidence
Traveling solo gives you that damn good feeling of bravery and liberation. It allows you to test test your limits and pretty much forces you to do things you may not be used to doing. Growing up, I used to never speak to or interact with strangers back at home. Especially when I was younger, I rarely spoke in class and sucked at public speaking. But after traveling alone, I got so used to engaging with strangers that I do it all the time, no matter where I am.
It builds confidence because when you’re abroad alone, you don’t have anyone to rely on except yourself. To be honest, I used to be the kind of person who would never even eat meals alone. But when I visited Lisbon, I comfortably took myself out on a candlelit dinner and it was so lit. Solo traveling makes me feel like I’m dating myself. I don’t know if you’d feel the same way, but I love it so much. I learn so much about myself on every trip and truly learn to enjoy my own company. This, in turn, built my confidence knowing that nothing – not even the little things – can phase me.
You Become More in Tune With the World You Live In
Traveling alone allows you to have fewer distractions, which in turn makes you a better observer of your surroundings. You are more mindful and aware of what’s around you, and this will help you feel more in tune with the beautiful world you live in. This leads you to become a better citizen of the world, something I think we should all strive for.
I keep going back to my first solo trip to Peru, because that’s how life changing it was. It was the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve never felt so in tune with Pacha Mamma, this world, this universe… I’ve never felt so present and alive as I did after climbing Machu Picchu Montaña and Vinicunca Mountain, looking out at the top, damn near in tears with goosebumps all over me.
I think I could write a whole book about my experiences traveling solo, but for now I’ll end it here and with this last sentence: I truly believe that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I never woman’d the f*ck up and packed light and traveled far all on my own.
I hope this inspires you to start planning your next trip… Solo.