What emotions conjure up when you think about travelling alone? Fear, excitement, curiosity, insanity, all of the above?
These are all normal feelings attached to the thought of going on an adventure without a companion.
Having travelled alone several times, I can attest that it’s not so scary. In fact, it’s one of the greatest challenge and gift you can give yourself.
My first solo trip wasn’t a nearby destination. It was Thailand.
Forget baby steps … go big or go home, right!?
Picture this … September 2007.
I’ve wanted to visit Thailand for the longest time to taste the best Tom Yum soup; explore the gorgeous temples and see the Lady Boys in action. None of my friends were available to join due to financial constraints, family obligations or already having been to the Land of Smiles.
I decided to take the chance and go on my own. Well, not exactly solo. I booked a group tour whom I met up with in Bangkok but I still planned the itinerary, travelled on the plane and went sightseeing alone.
5 Benefits of Travelling Solo:
WHO’S THE BOSS?
You are. The itinerary and pace is at your discretion. If you feel like sleeping in and ordering room service, then go ahead. If you are craving chicken and waffles at 3:00am then bring on the maple syrup without guilt or judgement.
EMPOWERMENT AND ENLIGHTENMENT
I find it exhilarating to step out of my comfort zone whether it’s going to the movies alone, assembling an IKEA couch or venturing abroad on my own. Sometimes it’s good to disconnect and enjoy your own company.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Travelling alone also means you are forced to do and learn things without the help of someone. Between you and me, I can be somewhat directional-challenged. While I was sightseeing in London, I learned to navigate the tube using a paper map instead of a GPS. Take that Dora the Explorer.
For the longest time, I’ve heard from friends of friends who met their spouse while travelling. It seemed like an urban love legend until my friend Candice found her perfect margarita and man in Mexico. Travelling alone encourages you to talk to locals and meet other people – whether it’s a romantic partner or friend – at a hostel, restaurant, bar or tour group.
Travelling through Northern Thailand, the workers out in the rice fields with their huge smile waved as our bus passed them by. No wonder the country is known as the Land of Smiles. The locals with their minimalist lifestyle – not attached to consumerism – seemed at peace. It made me have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what is really important in life.
Conversely, there are also advantages to having a travel partner-in-crime including shared experiences, economically sound, moral support and safety.
Unfortunately, a female travelling alone can be seen as vulnerable. In Thailand, my tour guide developed a crush on me and proclaimed his love while drunk and smashing on my hotel door the night before I returned to Canada. I called the front desk and minutes later, there was silence outside the door.
It was the first and only time I ever felt unsafe away from home on my own.
Be smart and vigilant like you would at home. And don’t fall for a charming Australian who asks to stuff a brick of something in your purse. Watch “Brokedown Palace” if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
If you have the opportunity to travel alone then it’s something I suggest you try at least once and add onto your bucket list. It really does change the way you see the world and see yourself. The memories will last forever and that’s the best intangible souvenir to bring home.
Do you prefer a solo adventure or travel with someone? Leave a comment below!