How Solo Travel Can Change Your Life
I remember the first time I traveled alone. I was in college, and I had to fly, book a hotel, and find my way around a new city by myself. I was terrified but exhilarated. The experience forced me to count on myself and trust that I would be able to maneuver my way through this new experience.
As a young adult, I felt a sense of confidence and pride doing this on my own. Since then, I created a much different relationship with myself. As a self-conscious college student, I felt awkward and unsure a lot of the time. One solo adventure later, I began to look at myself as someone who was independent and strong.
These experiences I had are becoming more common as time goes on. According to Hostelworld, there was a 42 percent increase in solo traveler bookings between 2015 and 2017. In that same time frame, female solo bookings have grown 45 percent and male solo bookings have grown 40 percent. It’s clear that traveling alone is an activity many others have appreciated as well.
Having a new experience with yourself forces you to appreciate who you are and enjoy the time spent alone. It allows you to open up to other travelers and pushes you into learning and developing new skills. Solo travel creates a strong bond with yourself and your independence, and that bond can change your life.
Time Alone is Time With a Friend
Solo travelers learn to appreciate time spent with themselves and may realize that being alone doesn’t mean that you have to feel lonely; it’s spending time with someone you enjoy — yourself. It’s about appreciating your own input and views on your new experience in a new place. It’s about enjoying your own company and appreciating your thoughts without the input of others.
As a solo traveler, my mindset began to change the more I traveled alone. I stopped thinking about how much I would have enjoyed this experience with others in my life and began feeling appreciative that I got to experience this adventure with myself. I wasn’t lonely, but I was alone. All that meant was that I got to spend more time with someone I found cool and interesting: me. This type of positive self-talk was something born from my solo travel excursions.
Finding Kinship With Other Travelers
When you travel with someone else, it’s easy to stay within your bubble with your travel companion. You discuss your travels, ask them questions, and troubleshoot any travel issues with your party. However, solo travel forces you to think outside of your bubble and look to the other faces around you.
World traveler Georgia Hopkins is a seasoned solo traveler. She says that the connections that are made while traveling by yourself can be more impactful and last longer: “You open yourself up to meeting complete strangers — oftentimes who share alike-minded wanderlust and passion for the world.”
Finding kinship with other travelers is great for building strong relationships, but it’s also great practice to reach out to people outside of your comfort zone. Talking to bartenders, other travelers,or even airport security instead of conversing with a friend can do a lot for your ability to connect with others and experience new personalities and amazing people all over the world.
Learning and Developing New Skills
The first time I drove an RV out of my state by myself it felt like the very first time I’d ever traveled alone. I was out of my element and questioning all of my decisions, but it also made me feel alive and and in control. I learned how to trust my instincts and was proud of myself for developing a skill on my own. I learned the basics from the RV rental agents, and read some handling tips for new drivers, but the logistics were all on me. In truth, it was one of my favorite solo travel experiences to date. Not just because it was an amazing adventure, but because I gained even more trust in myself and my ability to learn and develop a new skill.
So much of the change that happens within us as we travel on our own has to do with personal growth and inner trust. When you’re on your own, you can only rely on yourself. Whether you are driving an RV for the first time or need to protect your health while traveling, you can’t count on your spouse, friend, or family member to do it. Learning and developing these skills is up to you, and that’s a terrifying yet liberating feeling as you travel on your own.
Taking Hold of Your Independence
Solo travel can be scary. The idea of being a solo tourist can make anyone feel uneasy, especially for women who may find that just walking down their street alone is a stressfull ask. However, a Trafalgar survey of U.S. women found that 86 percent of women state that they are not afraid to travel regardless of what is going on in the world today; 73 percent of women feel that travel has made them stronger; and 69 percent of women draw inspiration from travel. These are encouraging statistics for women looking to travel on their own.
In truth, solo travel allows you to take hold of your independence. It ignites your spontaneity and taps into your resourcefulness. Solo travel is for everyone, and women can feel empowered in their ability to jump on a plane and explore the world on their own terms, with their own safety net in mind. Staying creative while you travel can be a hassle, but there’s a certain type of art that comes from the feeling you get when traveling on your own. Women may feel that surge in creativity in a big way as they travel alone and push through the concerns tethering them to a travel partner.
Solo travel has showed me that I’m an interesting enough person to travel with on my own, and that I don’t need the safety of a travel partner to have a good time or get through it. It’s pushed me out of my shell to connect with the amazing people I’ve found along the way— many of whom I still have a strong bond with. It’s pushed me to build my skill set and trust that I can tackle any challenge that comes my way. It’ sencouraged me to have faith in my independence and ability to count on myself. Solo travel can absolutely change your life. I know that because it’s changed mine.