So, one of your new year’s resolutions was to finally travel to some far off place, to be engulfed by new sights, smells, tastes and adventures- and how’s it going? Not so well? So, after asking your partner, sister, brother, mother, old friends and the family cockapoo you’ve found that nobody can take the trip with you? You’re still scrolling through other people’s adventures on social media, with your feet up and a cup of tea and wondering how they got so lucky. Well they didn’t. They made a choice that you can make right now too: wait, potentially forever, or just pack up and go. Choosing the latter makes all of the difference. At least, for me, it did.
The chance to meet and be yourself. Honestly answer this- when was the last time you made a decision that wasn’t influence by your boss, your boyfriend, your mother or that family cockapoo (okay maybe not the cockapoo but you get the idea!) Most of the time your life is not your own and we have so many modern day factors beating down on our personalities and telling us how we should look or act that we often lose ourselves in it all. Solo travel is just booking that ticket to get away from it all so you can get to know yourself from scratch; what is it that you want? Forget what your friends are doing or the fact that Callum just got into a relationship with Lucy on Facebook or the fact that you’ve worked your ass off and still not been promoted. Be who you were before all of this rubbish happened that dulled your shine. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m just saying it’s worth it.
2. Spice up your life
If you start getting into the habit of waking up, making yourself a cup of tea and then scrolling through social media at these oh-so-aesthetic feeds and the beautiful destinations featured in them then it’s time to do something about it. Don’t just scroll till your thumb joint seizes up; instead, make a list of the destinations that you’re looking at and do some research. Take things into your own hands. You don’t need someone to come with you on this either- you’re bloody amazing company- just remember that. You will be experiencing all of these amazing things without anyone else’s prejudice. When the Spice Girls first sang ‘spice up your life’ in 1997 they were obviously talking about solo travel, right?
Lose your way and then find it again. When you travel solo you actually engage with people around you in a way that you wouldn’t if you had the constant comfort of a travel buddy. Read for hours in quiet café corners or try bungee jumping or late night salsa classes- who cares if you make a fool of yourself? Nobody knows you anyway! You can have a real think about what you want to do with this time and if that means a 12 hour Harry Potter tour then where do I sign up too? Being alone in these places will also allow you to see what is and isn’t important. In turn, navigating a whole new terrain and overcoming obstacles aboard will make all the challenges at home seem so much more manageable. Taking yourself out of the situation and spending time both alone, and with new people, will help you realise if you really want play-station playing, pot smoking Harry in your life or not. I hope you pick the latter.
4. So this is what happiness looks like…
If you’re shy and a little inhibited, then solo travel will ease you out of your shell a little bit and you will engage with the people around you and hear their interesting stories and come home with new friends. You will gain a deeper cultural understanding of places that you visit. And, above all, you get to see what happiness looks like in different parts of the world. There is something so liberating about seeing that, although we all speak different languages, we all smile in the same one. And, you will see that happiness in different parts of the world doesn’t translate to the same imagine of materialism and ‘success’ that we place so much emphasis on in our society. Maybe, just maybe, with this new found knowledge, you will return home a little happier.
5. Gratitude and Goodness
Often, when you’re surrounded by the same people and same situations, you find yourself in a rut in terms of what you talk about, how you feel and what you see around you. When you leave, you come back with a new appreciation of what’s important. With all of the events that have unfolded these past few months it’s easy to get sucked in and feel negative about everything, but, in truth, there is so much good in the world. The thing is it’s not televised on a daily basis like the bad, so you have to go out, and find it for yourself.
I honestly think solo travel is something that not enough people do and if more people did, they would come back far more satisfied. It’s something we should all do before we settle into the rest of our lives; you never know what you might discover about the world, or, about yourself. I know that a lot of us over-think decisions because we don’t want to make the wrong one. But, if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s this: your biggest regrets won’t be what you did do, but everything that you didn’t. So, go on- take the jump and learn to fly. Solo.