Growing up I was taught to be cautious, about my actions, my words and … my dreams. This advice got me out of trouble however it left me in a state of dissatisfaction as I was too cautious. This all changed during my university years when certain events forced me to look inside myself and ask “what do I really want?” I still ask that question everyday, however now I have more confidence to obtain it instead of leaving it hovering over me.
I love to travel; I love being immersed in new cultures, trying new delicacies, speaking difference languages, wandering through different environments. I made excuses – money, no one to go with, not safe. But the desire to fly became strong and in 2 years I’ve travelled by myself to 3 countries. I loved every minute. Of course there were times I wish I had a companion to share a view, experience or taste, however the growth and self discovery I’ve obtained from travelling solo has strengthened my sense of self and confidence that I can do what I set my mind to. Travelling alone is not for everyone, however it’s something you should try at least once. It will change you.
Now I’m no expert when it comes to travelling, but having travelled solo to 3 countries, I thought I’ll pull together a list of pros and cons of solo travelling for those who are interested and for those who are waiting for that nudge.
1. Taking photos
In my opinion, this is the main disadvantage when travelling alone. After a while you get sick of taking images of scenes, objects… you want some life in it, some of you in it- after all, to prove to yourself and others that you were there! I am self-conscious when taking photos of myself and often rush it, but you gotta bite the bullet for memories! You become really good at self-photography though! ;oP
Some people thrive on shopping alone. I don’t. Well, I’m not good at buying things for myself alone — I prefer an opinion or a confirmation from someone before purchasing. Buying things for others is easy-peasy in my book and I can stroll along 5th Avenue doing that all day. But I can’t shop for myself alone.
3. Eating out
This is the one necessity I found very difficult during all my travels. It took me at least 2-3 weeks in Austria (my first solo trip) to get over the fear of dining alone in a restaurant. I lived on spaghetti, 2 minute noodles and snack foods in my room that time. I can’t remember what forced me to leave the comfort of my room to eat elsewhere but I did. I still feel awkward dining alone, you’re not quite sure where to rest your eyes or do between mouthfuls or when you’re waiting for your meal. You find yourself fiddling with your mobile or concentrating intensely on the drinks menu. In New York I dined alone in fast food joints, touristy places but could never get myself to eat at fancy cafes, restaurants or bars, which I really wanted to do. This is something I need to work on!
4. Feeling lonely
You really don’t have time to feel this because most of your attention is on the excitement of being in a spanking new environment with new people. If they are lonely moments, they are fleeting ones.
You can do whatever you want. You can plan your day but then change it last minute.You can turn left instead of right. You can peruse a gallery for hours without an impatient groan by your side. You can munch on your meal at your own pace. You can stay in a city for another day because you loved it. The possibilities are endless!
3. Carrying less stuff
This is something I definitely noticed when I arrived at the airport. My trips with family were often chaotic and stressful because there was too much stuff! It felt nice to just be responsible for my own belongings – a backpack and a suitcase.
3. Time for yourself and your thoughts
Our minds are so crowded with chatter and traffic at home we don’t have time to reflect. What better time to turn off that noise than on holiday?
4. You become your best friend
As you know your mind can be your worst enemy at times. Sometimes we can get ahead of ourselves and start to assume the worst when something happens– in those times I rely on my boyfriend to stop my destructive thoughts and drag me back to reality. Being thousands of kilometres away from home, I had to rely on myself. When the urge to panic came, I took a deep breath and stepped back: “Okay, if so-and-so street is this way, I must need to go that way” … “It’s okay, I’ll just ask that security guard over there” … “I’m not going to miss my flight if hundreds of other people are also in my position. Relax.”
5. You notice things more
There’s no one there to distract you, and your senses are free to soak in the surroundings.
6. Personal achievement
Lastly, it’s an awesome feat! After both trips, I returned home buzzing with excitement and glowing with pride. I dreamed of working in Europe and laughing over cocktails with new friends after work; living in Manhattan, devouring a hotdog on the subway home from watching a show on Broadway or shopping at Macy’s … and I did it! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!