I still remember the thoughts and emotions I was feeling when I was first getting ready to travel on my own.
Top 3 thoughts and worries:
Will I meet anyone on my trip
How will I get out there and meet people
Am I comfortable just being on my own for a while
Depending on your personality and confidence, this could be a walk in the park, or a manifest nightmare.
Solo travel forces us to rely on ourselves. Any bumps in the road, unforeseen circumstances, mundane problems, it’s all up to us to figure them out. There is where you find out what you’re really made of. If you have grit, if you believe in yourself, if you trust in your abilities.
Whoa, deep man.
I know, most trips don’t drop in these difficult, self searching situations. Mostly it’s just a case of mustering up the courage to say hi to other travelers hanging out in the foyer of the hostel. Hey, they might comfortable just hanging with the mates they are traveling with and want nothing to do with your company.
That’s fine, you gave it a shot.
Or you could suddenly find an instant tight knit crew and be brainstorming adventures. Trust me, this second scenario has heavily outweighed the first. It’s the first step to your trip growing organically, and leaves your heavily researched itinerary often disregarded.
I’ve encountered a bunch of solo travelers who are completely content with being on their own. They’re not shunning or blocking anyone out, they are just 100% comfortable in their own skin, following their own compass. They’re usually the ones who have the best inside tips since they put themselves into so many unique situations because they have that inner confidence to get out there. They’re not worried if they are alone their entire trip. They relish it. It means they are not bound to others wills and wants. When they’re done with a place, they leave. When they’re no longer happy with their company, time to move on.
So to answer the Top 3 Thought and Worries:
- Will I meet anyone on my trip? Yes
- How will I get out there and meet people Easily
- Am I comfortable just being on my own for a while More than I thought
It turns out, the thoughts and worries were just that. Feelings and emotions that were based on nothing in particular, just expectations of the future. You control your thoughts, and going down a rabbit hole of all the things that could be uncomfortable or go wrong in the future are just unnecessary vehicles to anxiety and worry about things that may never even happen in the first place.
Make that more than likely WON’T happen.
So just take it easy on yourself. Once you’re out there, that’s when you can make informed decisions and become comfortable in trusting yourself and your abilities. Hey, you might not like it, well now you know. And please, at the first time or discomfort or trouble, resist the urge to put your tail between your legs and high tail it home.
Sometimes this feeling can be overwhelming. I recently split up with my girlfriend after moving to Vancouver 9 months ago. I’ll be honest, thoughts of going home did come up. These thoughts were created through a desire for safety and familiar surroundings. This is natural I think. And they were just that though, only thoughts. I was chatting to my best friend in Sweden, and his counsel was much needed. I knew in my heart, any thought of leaving, because of this new situation I find myself in, would leave me with absolute and utter regret for my actions. His support for forging a path of my own was empowering and exciting.
Anything is possible.
I don’t think I would have seriously considered going home had I not had that chat, but it’s great to have someone in your corner, encouraging you to be bold.
Despite all the positive talk about solo travel, shit is still going to go sideways from time to time.
Be it your gear gets stolen, you’re left on your own at a countryside bus transfer station with no clue if you’re missed your shuttle (a very real situation in SE Asia), or you get pangs of homesickness during periods of isolation.
Don’t give in!
It’s these low times that end up being the fondest memories, the situations that become your favourite stories. I am a big believer in relishing the highs and the lows of any trip because they both have something to contribute to the overall experience. If something is too easy, or given to you, you don’t respect the gift as much as if you had earned it. It’s the reason why people who started with nothing are able to achieve such feats of greatness, opposed to those who started halfway up the ladder that don’t push themselves out of their comfort zone.
It’s the drive to overcome, the struggle, the opposition, that creates motivation and promotes growth.
I’ve got a trip to Central America coming up in October this year. I’m there for 3 weeks, and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes me. Five years ago, I would be dealing some trepidation and anxiety about possible outcomes, uncertainty if I was doing the right thing.
With a small backpack and an open mind, I will be mobile, ready for any adventure that crosses my path. As long as I have a good book and a pair of shoes on my feet, I know I will be OK.
So what’s holding you back from checking in solo? Are you a solo traveler already? What style of travel do you prefer?
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Happy travels everyone!