People who have travelled on their own, often come back a different person. Taking a trip all by yourself makes you learn things about yourself you wouldn't easily find out in daily life - and these lessons can be useful all through your life.
1. Complete independence
Travelling on your own, you’ll have to find your way by yourself, communicate without understanding the language and saving yourself from complicated situations. There’s no friend around with a remarkable navigation talent or another friend who speaks the language. If you want to feel powerful, a solo trip is key.
The downside is, there’s no shoulder to cry on after a bad day. You’ll have to learn how to deal with all the emotions that are involved in making a big trip – and it gives you character and spirit.
2. You get to know yourself
During your journey, you find out very quickly what you’re good at (perhaps there are some new talents to be discovered), but you also find out what your lesser qualities are. Having to handle new situations, you’ll find out how you react and handle it. All by yourself. That’s very informative.
There are big life lessons to be learned: when you’re feeling unpleasant or don’t want to be around a certain person, you’ll have to stand up for yourself. You’ll have to learn how to say no, and it won’t be easy the first time. But it’s a life lesson that will come to use in lots of situations in your life back home.
3. It puts things in perspective
Are you worried about a pimple, or do you dislike the place you were born, with all its stupid rules? Travelling in places with different cultures can put your own background in perspective.
Travelling connects you to the world around you and makes you feel humble – in a good way. You’ll start appreciating everything you took for granted at home.
4. You learn about your feelings
You only have yourself to take into account – there’s no friend around who dislikes cities or wants to go to the beach all the time. During your solo trip, you’re the one taking all decisions. Now that you don’t have to compromise, you’ll get to know your intuition. What makes you feel good, what makes you happy?
And because you’re in this adventure on your own, you’re more open to new people – and you’ll meet the most beautiful souls.
5. All your baggage is redundant
Everyone around you knows who you are, and your friends can probably describe you in a few words. Although it feels great to live in a bubble, on your journey, no one knows your baggage. They don’t know the family your from, what you studied, what you do for a living.
You don’t have to pretend, because everyone you meet will get to know you exactly the way you are. And vice versa. Perhaps, prejudice will disappear because you meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. And if you don’t like it, you just move on.
6. You discover your own way
Sometimes, other people drag you into their patterns – causing you to take the same decisions they do. Because, perhaps, people expect you to. While maybe you want different things. By creating a little distance, you’ll find out your deepest desires. DO you want something because you think you should, or because it really makes you happy?
Feeling like taking a solo trip? Here are some practical tips to make your journey more pleasant.
1. Sleep in hostels or choose home stays. You don’t necessarily have to share a room there, but there are breakfast rooms where you’ll meet people.
2. Be friendly, but know when to say ‘no’. Especially if you’re a woman, you’re vulnerable on your own, but your instinct will never leave you.
3. If you’re feeling lonely, book a tour. We bet you’ll make friends in no time.
4. Download the ‘Maps.Me’ app. It’s an offline app that allows you to navigate in a downloaded map (you have to download the map in a place with wifi beforehand). You can also mark specific places, so you’ll find your way back (like your hotel or your favorite breakfast place).
5. Another app, ‘TripWhistle Global SOS’ contains all local emergency numbers. If something’s wrong, the app will dial the number for you and even share your location if necessary.
6. A translation app is very convenient in places where people don’t speak English.
7. Feel like taking a yoga class with somebody, or go mountainbiking? The ‘Meetup’ app connects solo travellers.
Text: Gabriëlle Koster - Photo: Felix Russell-Saw