While everyone knows that travelling the world is one of the best things you could ever do, it is also, for some people, one of the most intimidating too. A lot of people who would love to do it, don’t. They may have numerous reasons, or excuses, but many of these can be stripped down to the fact that the only thing stopping them is themselves.
One common excuse I’ve heard for not travelling is having nobody to go with. And people are genuinely saying that like it’s a bad thing, or something that can stop you from doing what you want to do. Surely it’s the opposite? Travelling alone is something to be embraced, not eschewed. Here’s why.
You Won’t Really Be Alone
Unless you want to be. I have been on two big trips in my life, so far. One was with my best friend, and the other was alone. Alone except for the fact that as soon as I reached my first hostel, I wasn’t. The world is full, absolutely full, of travellers who want to meet new people. They want to meet you. Travelling alone, I never felt lonely. There was always somebody new to talk to, to go out with, to move on to the next place with. It is also completely up to you how long you want to spend with them.
When I travelled with my best friend, the relationship became strained. We spent too long together, and didn’t give ourselves a break. When I travelled alone, I never found myself bored of anyone, because I never spent long enough with them for that to happen. Now, I have only good memories of the time I spent with the people I met, because it genuinely was one of the best periods of my life.
But Maybe I Do Really Want to Be Alone
I understand. I did too, sometimes. And when I did, I made sure that I was. For many, travelling is all about freedom, and travelling alone is the ultimate freedom. If you want to go to see the temple, there is nobody saying they want to go to the spa instead. If you want to go to Cambodia, there is nobody telling you they would prefer Laos. You can do everything you want and don’t have to do anything you don’t.
Travelling isn’t necessarily all about seeing new places either. It’s also time out from your responsibilities and a chance for you to spend more time doing any hobbies you might have, some of which are best done alone. Reading, writing. For me, photography. I take my best photos when I’m alone, when I have time to think about them without someone asking me to hurry up to get to the next place on the map. It’s your time, and spending it exactly how you want will yield better results at the end. Whatever they might be.
Who Are You?
Anyone you want to be. It’s just that, you might not even know yourself who that is yet. Travelling with another person can be a very external experience. Everything is geared towards going places together, seeing things together, just plain being together, and it can leave little time for self-reflection. Travelling alone is more internal. You’re discovering the world, but also yourself. Solo travel has changed me far more than going with a friend did. I have challenged my insecurities, and beaten a fair few of them. You have to leave your comfort zone. That is an instruction. You have to leave it, and let it come back and engulf you. This enlarges it, helping you grow as a person.
When you travel alone, you can also be whoever you want. Nobody knows you, which means you have no shackles, no links to your past, and nobody judging the old you. I’m not saying you should tell people your name is Blaze Fightmaster and that you once squeezed a python to death with your bare hands, but equally your new friends don’t need to know that you looked like Ron Weasley in high school and used to make up your own dances to ‘N Sync songs.
Just, you know, for example. Ahem.
You Can Go it Alone
But you don’t have to. For all of its plus-points, travelling alone isn’t for everyone, and going with other people is of course still a fantastic way to see the world. I would never say it isn’t. Do bear in mind the advantages of going solo though; don’t dismiss the idea out of hand. If you do, you may never find out how big your comfort zone could become.