Okay, okay… I’ll admit that my solo travel experiences are lacking in some aspects, because I have yet to take a trip completely solo. However, I have spent quite some time traveling from one destination to the next on my own and slipping away from the group to create my own solo adventures. While on these escapades, I’ve experienced fear and serenity, apprehension and elation. Most importantly, though, I’ve experienced unique joys that I want to share with you.
You learn to step out of your comfort zone. The map is all yours, so unless you ask for directions, you’re on your own. Since I don’t like asking for directions, I’ve become fairly decent at navigating maps. It’s a fairly handy skill, but that isn’t what I’m supposed to be talking about… My point is that when you don’t have a wing-man or pilot, you’re forced to move beyond your typical bubble. Everything is on you, and that’s often a very daunting realization. However, it’s exhilarating. Once I step out of my boundaries, I become much more confident in myself.
It’s easier to meet new people. When I’m in a group, I tend to differ the conversation to others. I’m quiet and stutter when I finally speak up. Somehow, this changes when I’m alone. My awkwardness doesn’t vanish, but it’s easier for me to interact with new people when I’m not already surrounded by a group. When I fly solo, I often find myself meeting very interesting strangers— world travelers, business women, college bloggers. However, one of my favorite experiences is when I meet native Spanish speakers. I love being able to speak Spanish and chat in another language. In the end, when you’re alone, you don’t feel obligated to follow the group. You can follow wherever your feet go and make new friends!
The plans are all your own. While it’s fun to experience adventures with other people, sometimes it’s nice to have your own individual itinerary. If you want to spend a hectic day hitting the “must sees”, go for it! If iconic spots aren’t your cup of tea, spend the day people watching at a local coffee shop. It’s up to you, so you get to do whatever makes your heart happy. Perhaps this isn’t much of an issue for extroverts, but it’s a wonderful to have full control of your plans when your an extreme introvert.
You find yourself. Yes, I had to throw in this cliched thought, because it’s true. When you’re on your own, group influences are gone. There isn’t the pressure to conform to others’ expectations. When you’re on your own, you have so much space — the whole world in fact– to explore who you’re meant to be. Perhaps it’s frightening to look out across a vast ocean and realize that your soul is equally vast. However, the truth is that you’re always changing like the ocean’s tide. New experiences carry you to deeper depths, and it’s an adventure to wake up each morning and find yourself.
To be cliche yet again, this is barely the tip of the iceberg. These are the things I’ve learned from my few solo excursions, but there are many who have created a lifestyle of solo travel. In the end, I think it’s safe to say that the world is teeming with hidden joy waiting to be found. While I’m certainly not a solo travel expert, I want to encourage you to step and find some of these joys for yourself.
While I tried to steer away from storytelling time, I’d love to hear about your own experiences as a solo traveler in the comments bellow! What joys have you found?