As I touched down in Sydney on my first ever solo trip, I remember thinking, “What if I don’t meet people? Will I feel pathetic and lonely?”
I’d been so excited to plan my trip around Australia but suddenly reality set in. I was in a foreign country, all alone and I wondered if it was a big mistake.
I’m pleased to say, those fears were unfounded and that trip ended up changing my life. I had some incredible adventures and made friends who I still hang out with today. It sparked countless more solo trips, a travel blog and eventually a career in travel visiting over 54 countries along the way.
If you’ve never done a solo trip before, I urge you to try it at least once in your life. Trust me you won’t regret it. Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo, most people will think you’re brave and courageous for exploring on your own.
Even science has confirmed that solo travel is awesome. Constanza Bianchi, a professor from Queensland University of Technology’s Business School, conducted a study into why a growing number of people are traveling alone.
“Most participants admitted having family members and friends that could accompany them; however, they chose to travel solo for personal reasons of freedom, self‐discovery, personal growth, bravery and meeting new people” Bianchi wrote.
Need some more persuasion? Here’s why traveling solo makes you a better person:
Although my Myers-Briggs test results confirmed I’m more of an extrovert, I wasn’t always as confident as I am now. Traveling solo forces you to get out of your comfort zone and strike up conversations with complete strangers from different backgrounds and cultures. Travel made me much more comfortable with initiating conversations and interacting with other people from all walks of life.
Inevitably there will be some times on the road where you don’t have anyone to hang out with. Instead, you have to sit with your own thoughts and become comfortable with being alone.
Back home it’s easy to just phone a friend the moment you’re left alone. I know many people who are obsessed with being “busy” and pack their social calendars just to avoid being alone at all costs. On the road, you don’t have a network of friends and family members to fall back on.
Eating alone on the road can be scary but there are lots of things you can do to make it easier, such as sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender or bringing a book with you. The more you do it, the more you realize it isn’t so bad and people aren’t going to stare.
Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling with friends. It’s nice to have familiar faces traveling with you; people you like who you know you can have a good time with. Sometimes, however, it can be annoying having to take into account what everyone else in the group wants to do. When I travel solo I tend to meet more new people and I can be more spontaneous, since I only have myself to answer to.
When you’re traveling solo it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and follow your gut if something doesn’t feel safe. On the flip side, it also teaches you to be more trusting of people and it makes you realize that the world isn’t such a scary place. Most people are inherently good and many locals will go out of their way to help. Travel really makes me believe in the kindness of strangers. The media will often have you believe that the world is a scary place but sometimes that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Traveling solo encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things, whether it’s jumping out of an airplane, trying new types of food or learning a new hobby like scuba diving. It helps you to uncover what you like and what you don’t like, and can ultimately lead to a journey of self discovery. If I hadn’t travelled solo, I doubt that I would have become a travel blogger, so solo travel can actually help you discover the path you want to take.