There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask “What if I fall?
“Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”
– Erin Hanson
People often ask me why I choose to travel solo and some of the reasons I have explained in my previous blog post. I often receive quite a mixed reaction from people, from admiration to piety and all in between. The reactions and information provided by others can make or break the spirit of someone who desires to travel alone, but has not quite done it yet for whatever reason. So I wanted to share what I have learned from preparing to travel solo.
Stop waiting for the right time.
As the saying goes, life happens when you’re busy making other plans. If it was up to me I would have travelled extensively in my early twenties and lived in various Hispanic countries. I constantly found excuses, lack of funds being the main one. Sadly I’m not much richer than I was in my early twenties but I have finally made it a priority in my life to do the thing I have always dreamed of, seeing the world. Don’t look for a sign or settle with an excuse, decide where you want to go, find a realistic way to make it happen and plan accordingly.
Don’t share your dreams / plans with everyone.
Forgive my pessimism but for some, this goes without saying. I grew up with this mentality instilled in me by my mother for everything in life, but it has seemed to apply to me more so than ever when it came to planning new trips. I must admit, I’m a sensitive soul who can be quite fickle at times. Therefore, having other people’s opinions and judgments thrown at me about my own plans, can sometimes cause me to doubt, or feel incapable. Luckily the more that I experience the less I care or feel swayed by the opinions of others, but I’m still not immune to the words of the those who insist on telling me cautionary tales. So perhaps the biggest thing I have learned, or rather enforced, is to be mindful of whom I share my travel plans with when they are still at foetal stage.
Don’t take advice from people who haven’t done what you want to do.
You will have people telling you that going to country X is not a good idea because it’s full of kidnappers, rapists, and racists ready to lynch you. Their source? A few TV shows and something they heard on the news. Many people will place their own doubts and insecurities onto you because they deem your plans to be impossible for them to achieve. And quite frankly some will even be jealous of you. There are the worriers with good intentions of course; my family continue to advise me against travelling because they see it as an extravagance and they worry about me coming to harm. And although I understand their concerns, essentially what they are saying to me is ‘don’t do what makes you happy, do what is safe and expected of you at this age’. I cannot live that way and it is such a shame that many people have chosen to settle for less, not because they have to, but because they are afraid of seeing what is at the other side of fear. On the flip side, anything that you want to do has most likely been done by someone before and lived to tell the tale. Should you need advise and information, seek advice and information from them (via Facebook travel groups, other travel forums) whilst keeping in mind that these are all subjective experiences.
If you have never travelled alone before, start small.
You could visit a neighbouring country / state for a weekend or a few days. Travelling solo can be an overwhelming experience, as you are literally stepping into the unknown and have no one but yourself to be accountable for every choice you make. Therefore if you’re worried about how you will handle yourself, but still curious to travel alone, start small and take note of how you’re feeling. You will learn so much from that experience alone.
There is no wrong or right way to travel.
You won’t go to ‘travel heaven’ by travelling as long, far and as low budget as possible. I have a full time job in a corporate firm, so I don’t have the luxury to travel months at a time around the world. There are loads of different ways to travel so don’t get caught up with labels and a uniformed ways of doing so. Some people want to stretch their money as far as possible, whilst others will want to travel in luxury, there is no shame in either style and you should tailor travelling to your needs and desires whilst keeping an open mind. Travelling solo gives you the greatest sense of freedom you can ever experience you just have to find what works for you.
Let me know what you have learnt from travelling solo.