I remember the first time I ever travelled alone. My exams had just ended, and I wanted to celebrate by going on a trip. But none of my friends really felt like joining me at that moment, so I decided to go alone. I was scared as hell in the beginning, but after a few days, I started to feel more comfortable. I became more aware of the people around me, and then I started to make some friends. And after realising I could really make friends everywhere, but also have the freedom and adventure that comes with travelling, I saw I was fit to travel alone.
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for quite some time now. By now I know the ins and outs of travelling alone and I can say with absolute confidence that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Here’s why:
1. I get to do it my way
Travelling alone goes hand in hand with ultimate freedom. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want (to a certain extend of course), and I don’t have to do anything if I don’t really feel like it. And the best part is that I don’t have to answer to ANYONE. I can be completely selfish and I don’t have to feel guilty about it. The only person that I need to take care of is myself. And that is a wonderful luxury that not many people have anymore, especially not if you’re surrounded by children, friends or a husband/wife.
2. I can be whoever I choose to be
In normal life, you generally know people for longer periods of time than when you’re travelling. You have a solid group of friends and colleagues that have probably known you for a while. This is a wonderful thing to have, but it can also be restraining. Most people you know, and especially your family members think they know every part of you. Because of this, they usually have a hard time accepting change. For example, if you’ve never shown any interest in any creative jobs, but then suddenly you discover photography and want to pursue a career as a freelance photographer, they are most likely going to hold you back. Partially because they want to protect you, and partially because they think they know you better than you know yourself and they think that because you’ve never shown interest in photography before, being a photographer won’t make you happy and isn’t something that you should pursue. This can make it harder to change and reinvent yourself. You can get stuck being the person that those people perceive you to be. But when you’re travelling on the other hand, no one knows who you were before the day you met them. You can be whoever you want to be, and no one will be weird about it. People will just accept it, because they assume you’ve been that passionate photographer all along. You have the complete freedom to create yourself every day over and over again, and there will be no one that holds you back.
3. Making friends is easier
When you travel alone, it’s easier to get in contact with people. You‘re more focused on your surroundings and the people around you. It’s also easier for others to make contact with you because you seem more approachable. A lot of the time, I don’t even have to ask if I can join fellow travellers for something. They’ll just offer it right away when they see I’m alone. And it’s not just the contact with fellow travellers that’s easier. Locals are also more open in my experience. They can invite you to the most beautiful places or give you wonderful experiences that you wouldn’t been able to have or visit without the knowledge of a local. I’ve gone cliff-diving in Croatia, been taught how to weave in South-Africa and cooked Pintxos in Basque Country. All because locals approached me for some small talk while I was somewhere alone. I don’t think any of those people would have started a conversation back then if I’d been with someone else already.
4. I feel it deeper
Travelling alone is the purest form of travelling for me. You get to truly experience everything without the distraction of another person taking up a part (or all) of your energy. You’re more aware of your surroundings and get to take everything in, no distractions. When we’re immersed in the unfamiliar, we’re the most perceptive. That’s a survival mechanism. You see, learn and feel far more than you would, surrounded by familiar things or people. That is why travelling alone makes every experience so much more beautiful, fulfilling and memorable.
5. It’s scary
I’d be lying if I said travelling alone didn’t scare me in the beginning. But I was never afraid to face that fear. Instead I tried to see it for what is was, which is useless, and I tried to turn it into excitement. Fear doesn’t necessary mean that you should refrain from doing whatever it is that scares you. Very often, it means quite the opposite. People are most afraid of the things they want most. Because let’s be honest, nobody is truly comfortable in their comfort zone. But you know what? Fear is something you can overcome. And when you do that, it will fill you with so much pride and empowerment that you’ll thank yourself a thousand times for not giving up.
6. It’s the greatest gift I have ever given myself
Every single day that I’m travelling on my own, I’m proving to myself that I can. I CAN figure out how to solve my own problems, I CAN take care of myself and most importantly, I CAN make myself happy. I don’t rely on anyone else anymore. Whenever I meet cool people on the road or make new friends, I see it as a bonus. Having those people around fills me with gratitude, but being alone doesn’t fill me with insecurity or fear anymore. And as I prove to myself over and over again that I have everything it takes to make myself happy, my confidence in myself and my own abilities only grows. My former weaknesses turn into strengths and my insecurities turn into confidence. And because of that, I love and appreciate myself more every day. The deep knowledge that I need no one else to be happy, is the greatest gift I have ever given myself. And I’m deeply thankful for that.
If you have any further questions or remarks, please comment them below! I’d love to hear your stories!