Little over 22 months of solo travel — 33 countries, 5 continents and countless cities. One question I get a lot, mostly from female friends and acquaintances is what to expect during solo travel? I always answer it to the best of my experiences but repeating myself again and again is no fun. So, I thought why not write it here for once and all. During your solo travel you might experience hundred other things but below are the 6 things you are most likely to expect or experience. So without further ado, lets begin!
1. You will have a lot of fun
From the moment you leave your home to getting off the plane in new country and getting on a taxi or bus or tuk tuk or ferry to find your hostel then one fine afternoon watching beautiful sunset in another part of the world and everything in between. One thing is for sure — You will meet a lot of people from different walks of life. Some of them would be truly inspiring and amazing and some pretty basic. And as we all know we can’t do epic shit with basic people. so, try to surround yourself with former individuals or be your own hero having fun your own way. It is a solo travel after all.
Then many times you will find yourself enjoying hot/cold beverages exchanging your life stories. I’m not into small talks; it gets boring quick. So, i take this as the chance to understand what inspires those people, what motivates them, their perspective about life and different ideas that might widen your horizon. This is a good way to get to know each other and have fun without pretending.
I must add here out of those people you meet, some of them will help you without thinking twice. In today’s world of self-interest and manipulation, finding such people is rare. If you happen to meet those rare gems, consider yourself lucky. Be friends with them. Surround yourself with good people and you will always have a great time.And who knows the friendship you found on the road what it could lead to.
Regardless of how far you are travelling, you will meet wonderful people along the way. Strangers will show you random act of kindness, be grateful, thank them and don’t forget to pay it forward. As the saying goes: a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.
2. You will be strong and confident
Navigating your way through the foreign train, bus and metro system is a major challenge. Top it off with the language barrier and trying to make it work with the best sign language you could come up with! It’ll be hilarious, hectic and chaotic but sometimes in chaos we find strength. Strength to carry on which helps build our confidence.
While travelling we may have to make quick decisions. But it will help us to take actions. As they say, doing something and regretting is better than doing nothing at all. We learn from our mistakes.
Hard time trusting people? Solo travelling will help you work on that too. You will have to listen to your gut instinct every single time or let go. You may come across situations where people will trust you and genuinely offer free help, ride, food and even shelter at their home. It will challenge your judgement and trust factor. But would you want to ruin that kind of kindness, trust and confidence someone has on you? I didn’t think so either. You actually want to be more sincere and trust able. It just adds to your confidence. It is amazing.
Exploring new territories, dealing with people from different walks of life, feeling courageous to try skydiving, climbing a mountain, eating snails or chicken leg, drinking a shot infused with scorpions, trusting a stranger to guide your destination. Every new thing you do, you will be building your confidence every step of the way. Gradually you will become strong and fearless.
3. You will feel alone at times
Yes there will be other people around but you will still feel alone in your heart. I still feel that at times even after 18 months of solo travelling. But what i come to realize is it is normal to feel that way. I just have to remind myself i am a solo traveler, i chose this path and it is all on me. This is unavoidable. But how i deal with it, is what makes all the difference.
You could always Skype, write to your family and friends, read books or watch movies. But important thing is to understand happiness comes from within you, not from others. Don’t expect anyone to fill up your alone time. World owes you nothing, so no point being upset with your loved ones.
It is time for you. Utilize it. Feeling alone? Go do something that makes you happy. But first, learn to make peace with your past and don’t worry too much about the future. It will arrive soon enough. Do what you can to be happy now. Be present. I assure you if enjoy the moment, you won’t feel alone. Be at peace with wherever you are. Time will pass anyway.
4. You will experience ultimate freedom
Solo travelling is freedom.You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want and with whoever you want. It’s all about you. You and your decisions. so, you will be the one facing the outcomes too. Secret is taking rational risks and expanding your comfort zone.
Freedom is power and as we know with power comes responsibility. Responsibility for yourself. To keep yourself safe, sound, healthy and happy. No point making your family and loved ones worry about you. So, let’s be smart and take care of ourselves. No 1 priority. No matter where your travel takes you, please do your best to eat well (doesn’t have to be fancy expensive, nutritional & healthy is good) and sleep well (at least 5–8 hours per night).
In terms of safety, as a general rule of thumb; keep an eye on your belongings and don’t go down that dark alley way on your own. Guide books are great help but if you can try exploring unbeaten route. Either way, you will realize we live in a beautiful world. Use your freedom to broaden your mind and stretch your horizons.
5. You will learn skills
Solo travelling offers opportunities to learn different skills. No 1 is becoming a very good observer. Everything foreign. Sometimes many things happen at the same time. Sometimes nothing happens. Most of the time, you will play a guessing game when you don’t understand. But observing all the time.
You will learn to be responsible as you will have no one else to please with your decisions or blame for results.
You lost your belongings, well time to learn how western union works. So your loved can send you cash! Speaking from experience get the name and spelling right the first time around, traveling broke is no fun.
If that doesn’t work, time to learn how to ask for help wherever you are. Siting at home you might think ah that should be easy but have you ever ask for money from strangers? I didn’t think so either! Most of us are raised brain washed asking for help is sign for weakness but in real world asking for help needs a lot of courage and no shame! Asking for help is not something we are comfortable with and it is a skill that needs multiple attempts to master.
You will also learn foreign words and language in real-time.
Travelling alone gives you time to think. It is common to see people coming to terms with power of self acceptance.
Solo travel will also teach you time management. Another important thing you will learn is to be grateful for what you have and be at peace.
6. You will change
Travelling the world on your own, watching the beautiful sunset overlooking Atlantic Ocean, feeding deers in Japan, tiles of Morocco, mountains in Switzerland, view in Vienna, sunrise in a long tail boat overlooking an island in Thailand, amazing waterfall sunset in Cambodia and so on so forth. You will have breathless moments just being there and will realize how capable, strong and independent you are. You are a hero in your own story.
Travelling demands open spirit, a desire for genuine connection and belief that amazing encounters are just around the corner that many walking and talking will lead to. Travel culture shock, your experiences and encounters it all adds up. You will have a deeper insight in a short span. You will start to adapt and immerse quickly.
Being around inspiring people and some deep conversations might change the course of your life.You will have a different perspective. You will start to value experiences over possessions and appreciate moments and people than things. You won’t look for happiness or safety from others because you are confident to provide those for yourself. Solo travel will leave you with an impression you will never forget. You will learn, grow and change for better.
Best to you
Originally published at medium.com