I’ve always said no matter if you travel solo you’ll hardly spend any time alone.
“It’s easy to make friends.” I confidently assure nervous strangers in my inbox. “Stay at hostels they’re great for socialising!” I write in my posts. But one thing I’ve covered in little detail is a part of solo travel that I think so many of us overlook. The most important lesson of all – what solo travel teaches you about the joy of being alone.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m probably as extraverted as they come. I love commanding the room and meeting new people. I prefer to pick up the phone and call over sending a text. I’m a straight-up ENFJ in the Myers-Briggs test. And the idea of sharing a room with a bunch of strangers doesn’t so much horrify me as it does intrigue me.
But all that aside isn’t the point of solo travel to actually spend some time alone?
What solo travel teaches you about codependency
When I left the UK in 2016 I was in many ways codependent. In times where I wasn’t in pits of depression, I loved to be constantly surrounded by people. When my flatmates weren’t home I’d feel an overwhelming sense of emptiness. Alone in the house, I’d feel abandoned. And after being orphaned at 14 these feelings make sense because every time someone left deep down my inner child wondered “are you coming back?”
Though my situation may be unique, I think in many ways until you’ve travelled solo or even done things solo (by choice) you’ve never had a reason to be completely independent.
Whether it was relying on your university schedule to tell you what day it was or your job to tell you when to get up in the morning. Subconsciously or consciously these structures give a great deal of meaning to our lives.
What solo travel teaches you about resilience
Even up until the moment I got on the plane a friend had brought me to the airport and helped me with last-minute touches the night before. It wasn’t until I got off the plane in Bangkok 14 hours later that I realised “holy fuck I’m doing this myself… now what?” You’ll be glad to know I figured it out that trip and on every trip since.
Once I spent 4 days walking alone around Hanoi, another time I went hiking in Hawaii (although to be fair that was a bit of a clusterfuck because I forgot to take any water or money to buy some and by the end of it I felt like a melted chocolate raisin). Whatever you do take some damn water.
Society would have you believe there’s something wrong with being alone. That it means you’re unlikable or some sort of 21st-century spinster. I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit, spending time alone makes you an even better lover and friend and, also more importantly, how you spend your time is no one else’s business.
Make the most out of YOU time
I’m not saying you need to spend a whole ass week sitting twiddling your thumbs and trying to remember the last time you had a conversation. The aim of this post is not to bore you into an early tomb, I promise. I’m just saying make the most out of the time you get for yourself.
When you’re travelling alone you have a unique opportunity to meet yourself. Don’t panic in these times – use them to your advantage.
If you’re on a group tour rushing from place to place it may seem like there is none. There is always time. Whether it’s ten minutes in the morning or a quick journal entry before bed. I cannot stress enough that this time is a gift because you will learn so much about yourself.
Why solo travel is important
Is solo travel lonely?
Sure there have been moments when I felt alone. But even when I’m at home surrounded by friends I’ve had those moments too.
Now, even when I’m not travelling, I love to take myself out on dates. I have one day a week where I don’t do any work and go for dinner or to the cinema – whatever I’m feeling that day. Sometimes I’ll buy my favourite cupcakes (red velvet from Cupcake Central in case you’re wondering) and one of those tiny cute bottles of wine. Why? Because I want to – and because I deserve it.
Three years ago I would have never even dreamed of doing something like this. And that’s exactly why solo travel is important.
Travelling alone has taught me to confront, accept and work on those parts of myself in the shadows and to fall more in love with myself every day. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the same.
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What about you? What do you think solo travel teaches you?
Let me know in the comments!
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