It seems so cliché or “Eat, Pray, Love” to just take off traveling the world alone when you’re having some sort of personal breakdown, transition or general unease with your current everyday life. I didn’t care – it seemed like a good idea for me, and after almost 6 weeks of traveling alone through SouthEast Asia, I can attest that it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.
Why is solo travel the key?
You’re forced to be open to guidance
Especially if you’re a Type A personality who needs to be in control at all times, going away by yourself allows you to be open to meeting whoever and doing whatever “the universe” (again, cliché) wants for you. Going away with the mentality that you are open to whatever is meant to come your way will keep you more receptive to speaking with people and trying new experiences that you may be hesitant to do in your comfort zone at home. When you stop overthinking everything, (which generally tends to keep you in a safe, not so fun place) you’re able to enjoy life a lot more and become more in-tune to the meaning of your experiences.
You’re more approachable
When you’re away with a friend or even worse, a group of friends, you become immediately less approachable. When you’re traveling alone, both fellow travelers and locals are more likely to come chat with you. They figure you’re probably a pretty interesting person to be traveling alone…or they may just feel bad for you and want to keep you company. Either way, you’re winning – and you’ll likely get an invite or some great advice for things to do in your new surroundings. People often told me that I was brave for traveling alone, but the truth is, I was rarely ever lonely.
You learn to appreciate your own company
The reason I didn’t get lonely was because I finally learned to be comfortable with my own company. It’s easy to fill up your calendar to avoid sitting alone with your own thoughts – but when you travel alone, you begin to really embrace these moments. I used to fear sitting alone at a restaurant for a meal, but these ‘tables for one’ have been some of my most enjoyable meals yet. Being alone and not having the distraction of making plans or talking about relationships helps you to enjoy your food, watch your surroundings and reflect on whatever the hell you want.
You learn to trust yourself
When you travel alone, you are solely responsible for everything that happens, and you are the only one you can rely on if things go wrong. You learn that you can really trust yourself and your intuition to make the right decisions and successfully plan a journey alone. You can’t help but feel more confident after coming home knowing that you took care of yourself and had an amazing time.
You learn to take risks
Any successful person will attest to the importance of taking risks in life. It’s easy and safe to book an all-inclusive resort in Mexico – but other than having a deeper tan, how do you grow from that? Stepping out of your comfort zone and into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place is where you experience growth. The lesson to take risks in life, like the risk of this trip, is one of the most important ones I learned while I’ve been away. Life is too short to stay unhappy for too long – sometimes you need to remove yourself from your bubble to see what’s holding you back from feeling good back home.
You learn the true meaning of gratitude
When you travel to a place where you can see the way that locals live, and how they are able to live happily with so much less – there is no way you can leave without becoming a more grateful person. We go through the motions of life without pausing to appreciate how incredible our lives are – no matter what kind of drama we are going through; we are all blessed with so much. Especially being surrounded by different religions, such as Buddhism or Hindu – religions that put so much emphasis on gratitude – is a fantastic reminder of what really matters in life, and having the strength to continue to build those things up.
Even if you’re not going through some sort of crisis at home, the next time you’re beginning to feel like you need a vacation – consider going by yourself. Even if it’s only for a week, I can tell you that you will come back with most of these amazing lessons. There’s a whole big world out there filled with millions of amazing people – and it’s waiting for you to open your eyes and see it. What are you waiting for?