There are two kinds of travellers: the ones who love discovering new places with friends and family and those who love exploring on their own. I’d say I’m more of a solo traveller. For me, it’s a chance to relax and re-evaluate my life. I’m the kind of person who needs at least a yearly break from the routine and travelling to another country, not only to explore the world around me but the one within me to become a better version of myself.
I think solo travellers are misunderstood: others perceive us as loners, hopeless souls seeking happiness far from home. They imagine us staring at a melancholy landscape like Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. There's more to it than melancholy when it comes to travelling alone. It's a lifestyle, a way to reshape perspectives and discover new aspects of ourselves. It’s also a thrill.
Here are some reasons why you should pack your belongings and embark on your solo adventure
It’s a confidence boost
Travelling with friends is a lot of fun; creating memories together is one of the best aspects of being human. However, being alone in a foreign country forces you to use your survival skills and challenge yourself. Fortunately, I've never been in a dangerous situation while travelling alone. Still, I think many solo travellers will agree that being in a foreign country can make simple tasks like asking for directions, doing groceries or interacting with locals difficult.
Sometimes we have to face awkward situations due to cultural differences. I remember once being alone in a middle eastern country and wanting to visit a famous mosque. I went on a Friday morning, completely forgetting that it was a weekly holiday where people gather to pray. I found myself in the mosque, wearing shorts and a crop top, wandering around the building with people looking at me confused or even annoyed. After a while, I met a policeman who told me which day it was and that tourists weren't allowed. Some years ago, I would’ve felt ashamed and super embarrassed, but then you learn to laugh about those moments and appreciate the lessons learnt along the way!
Travelling alone also helped me not take myself so seriously and laugh about some of my misadventures. If you struggle with confidence, I recommend you take a solo trip to believe more in yourself and learn from your experiences.
Making new friends—maybe even lifelong ones!
During my solo trips, I met so many new and interesting people. Some of them even became real friends that I’ve stayed in touch with! India, Spain, Turkey, England, France… I can't count how many different nationalities I have met over the years. I know now that in almost every European country I decide to visit, there’ll be someone I have met during my travels, ready to welcome me. Be brave and try talking to strangers on the street while abroad. Who knows, perhaps they could become lifelong friends! Meeting people from different backgrounds also helped me improve my English skills and speak more fluently without being too paranoid about my pronunciation. Meeting new people will help you improve and learn new things!
Drop the mainstream
When we travel with mates or relatives, we tend to visit mainstream places. We don't trust ourselves to wander around lesser-known areas or interact with locals. One reason for this is that when we travel with someone, we are still in our comfort zone; we rely on them and feel safe if something were to go wrong during our trip and we tend to branch out a lot less. Travelling alone allows you to get out of your comfort zone and build a new understanding of the world around you.
I hope this article will show you that travelling alone is one of the most fun and beneficial things you can do in your life. Take courage, fill that suitcase and let yourself get carried away by the spirit of adventure that is present in all of us, even if it sometimes it seems hidden. You only live once; make it memorable.