Travelling in itself (solo or otherwise) is such a rewarding experience. Personally I find it a very noble human experience. It takes a lot of resources to pull off so humility and patience helps you gather those. And then when you do it, you find pleasure, fascination, and satisfaction/happiness on the smallest things. Now travelling by yourself is another level of travelling. I’d say you get the same benefits, but then there are other preparations you have to do which results in different types of rewards. Now, let’s get onto “why solo travel”?
First, let’s preface the important bits and disclaimers here:
- Traveling is a great experience although it’s not a requirement in life. I don’t want people bandwagon-ing on it for the wrong reasons, also pulling off certain things to make their overall life worse. When you can afford to (time, money, opportunity), then I suggest doing it.
- Solo travel admittedly puts another challenge when it comes to safety. I also recognize this is more difficult for women in this unfortunate world. I want you to approach the reading with care and more importantly to travel with care. I know it’s not supposed to be your responsibility and men should just stop, but that generational change won’t be happening soon. So if you want to travel now, unfortunately we’d have to keep you safe instead of changing the world norm. I encourage the thinking of “I want to travel. Where can I go, how can I keep myself safe?” instead of “it’s a dangerous world out there. I will not go.”
- Solo travel specifically is also not a life requirement. You can luck out where you find a travel partner who’s exactly on the same wavelength as you. You will then essentially be reaping the benefits that I’ll list below whether you’re a pair or in groups. Solo travel puts a “realness” to it though, as I’ll explain.
You Find Your Independence
Spoiler Alert – La Casa de Papel (Money Heist eng.) of Netflix. Unfortunately you’d have to skip this whole point if you’re not caught up.
I know of this great story about this guy. He finds this amazing woman: incredibly hot, dangerous, independent, capable,
slightly cray cray. They had these crazy flings on air. He’s not obsessed or a pushover but he’s in the: “I’ll do things that’ll lead me to a life with her” sort of mindset. Girl wasn’t in the same mindset though.
He was captured and tortured in the worst ways and then when he returned he saw things clearly: They were about to do mind-blowing sex but instead just before that, this guy breaks up with her. He states that (roughly paraphrasing) as he was experiencing the worst ways of torture, he discovered that he was strong (and that he can depend on himself).
I wouldn’t recommend getting tortured first-hand though just to find yourself; just solo travel.
Watch the breakup scene all here.
What I’m trying to say is that by first-hand experience, you find your independence. Actually just the act of trying to solo travel for the first time is a big testament already!
Everybody goes through it. I’ve been through it. When you’re planning your first solo travel, your thoughts are all against you simply because of the fact that “I’ve never done this before”. Once you’ve properly convinced yourself and once you’ve handled the logistics one by one, and you actually end up flying and going somewhere, guaranteed one of your thoughts is gonna be: “omg, I can’t believe I did it!”.
And that my friend is a moment and cause for celebration. On a more lasting version of that thought, you can now say “I’ve done it. I can do it again.” and also “I’ve done it. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.” and then you’ll be wiser in travelling and you’ll want more of it.
You Find Where the Lines of Your Fears and Capabilities Are
In essence this is basically an extension of the first point, but what I want to highlight here is that the first point is more about engaging and doing solo travel. This point is more about: “After you’ve gained and exercised your independence, what are the things you learn about yourself?”.
For example when I got to Sweden the first time (btw, my first travel was a solo travel btw, coincidentally) I was impressed with my decision. Since that was my first travel as well, I never really knew what type of traveller I am. Do I like museums, tours, just local walking/discoveries, etc? It took me just a quick second but I essentially just wandered literally around the city and just deciding as I went. It was fun!
“but Dan, that’s not a solo travel thing, that’s a first time traveller thing”. Yes, but if I was travelling with someone, I would then not be clear on any decision I made. If we decided to go to this hip bar, “is it because s/he suggested it and I went with it or I genuinely like it?”. Sometimes decision will be made for you and sometimes you’ll have to compromise. I’m all for compromise but we’re trying to “Find Where the Lines of Your Fears and Capabilities Are” right now and I wouldn’t be doing it properly. Besides even if I get full decision while with someone, I’d then always be second-guessing my decision: “is s/he having fun?” and that wouldn’t be a fun worry for me.
To continue, you will have to make all the decisions for yourself, and each decision you make is a learning method to find your line. For example:
- “ooh there’s a pub crawl. Should I join that later?” (you discovering you’d be into, at least trying, pub crawls)
- “Yes I’ll go later.” (You discovering you can make decisions about unknown things)
- * you having fun * (You being open-minded, just ‘taking in the present’, going along with the things and people around you, and maximizing fun with what you have)
- * people inviting you to another place at 4am but you’re dead tired and eventually calling it a night ahead of everybody else * (you finding where the line is when it comes to partying and standing your ground because you know what’s best for you lol)
What else do I need to say? 😁
No more you-want-to-do-X-but-someone-complains-their-feet-hurt-and-wants-to-go-home, for example. You wanna devour all the currywurst / weisswurst und bier while in Berlin/Munich? Go ahead. Wanna just lounge on a beach without anyone pressuring you to do anything in Asia? Yalla. You wanna go to Ibiza and…~well let’s stop there. I’ll leave that to your imagination 😉
I’d want to talk more about this but fun is relative. You get to do what is fun for you! That’s the beauty of it! Besides I’m not going to do a Yard Sale and describe all the things I’m into online lol.
You Learn to How to Deal with People (Also People from Different Parts of the World!)
Let’s start with the thought of: “each person is different”. That in itself makes things difficult already. Add in cultural, geographical differences and it gets murkier.
The other thought is that when I say solo travel, it doesn’t mean: Going to Portugal solo, going to a museum solo, eating out solo, doing everything solo. No. It’s more about deciding and setting off on an adventure that it’s just you to start and then once you get there, you just go along with the things that happen.
Humans are social species so it’s definitely natural to find company when you arrive at your destination. You don’t have to be anxious about it if it’s not easy for you to engage with new people. I get it. Not everyone can be extroverts. But let’s put out the thought of socializing for a bit. Even if you can’t/don’t want to socialize, you’d still want to just talk and simply ask around in the local region. Maybe you want to ask for directions, or you want to know small tidbits on why people are doing things, or maybe you just want to know how to pay for the bus. These simple things are a good start! I would then count it as “socializing” if you’re an introvert!
When you meet a person from a different place, there are just so many layers of complexity at work in getting to know them and/or operating in their world. You would see differences but are they because you’re Canadian and she’s a German? or is it simply a difference in personality? I can’t answer that for you. The only way for you to know is to spend more time with them and learn more about them as you go. You will then notice regional patterns which will help you adjust accordingly later on.
For example I learned that haggling/bargaining is a thing in the middle east, so much so that not haggling is just being the dumb, clueless tourist. At first it rubbed me the wrong way since I thought it’s just cheapening whatever product/service is being offered. But no, it’s just a way or transacting and doing business. The price is probably adjusted already knowing that that culture exists, etc. No harm done. 🙂
The other good example is Dutch/Germans/Scandinavians (to name a few) tend to be direct. It’s such a deep cultural thing in The Netherlands that there’s a term for it: bespreekbaarheid. I’d like to think that it’s in my personality that I can take direct/raw criticisms (regardless of nation). It’s just my thing so for me I can take it. For some/most people, this rubs them the wrong way.
It’s helpful to know these things as you travel even if you’re not staying anywhere for a long time. In these multicultural times, you are guaranteed to meet people from different parts of the world frequently. So it helps to know these tidbits. If you’re having business dealings with someone, or dating someone from a different background/culture, trust me, these are very awesome trump cards to have later on 😉 TRUUUUUUST.
“Ah, people from ___ (but not everyone since that’d be stereotyping) tend to be ___ so I should be more/less ___” (You wanna be careful though, you want to have a ‘guideline’ in your head, but you don’t wanna be stereotypical or racist about it lol)
It’s a cool skill to learn. I’d compare it to learning a language. In a sense it is. It’s just not the type of language that comes out of your mouth. It’s a mix of body, facial, verbal, vibe, etc expressions. It’s reading these signals and speaking/responding based on the things you hear/comprehend from them.
So those are the thoughts I have off the top of my head. There are plenty more and I know that for a fact. It’s just that they come to me as I travel. I would then get those moments of “THIS IS WHY I TRAVEL!” followed by a big grin and aura of happiness and contentment. Ultimately, I encourage everyone to travel. If you want to travel by yourself, for yourself, I say solo travel is a greeeeat option. If you’re one of the lucky ones who find a great travel partner (platonic or romantic) and you guys are operating in perfect sync then kudos to you! You reap the same benefits and I’m sure you have your own pros/cons.
Coffee’s running out. Got to go. Just go travel!