I have learned a lot by traveling by myself. Lets start with my first “lonely” trip, my first solo adventure – Cycling through New Zealand, alone. I was 19 years old and I have never done anything close to what I was about to do.
Nevertheless I went for it. Don’t get me wrong I was scared. But on the other hand I was full of energy and curious. I bought a cheap (100$) bike, a hammock and a front basket. Barely prepared with the minimum, no proper fitness and a printed google-maps-map I was ready to go.
When I think back and relive the adventures again, I need to smile. It was pretty reckless, naïve, but exciting enough to finish my trip from Auckland to Christchurch.
Between all the unique encounters I had to face myself in a way I haven’t done before.
What did I learn from traveling by myself?
#1 Getting to your emotions without distractions
In daily live we are nonstop distracted by our job, social interactions, sport, social media, our phones and lap-top. When do we actually take our time to feel what is going on inside of us? In stillness without hurry – without being busy. The most people of my generation probably couldn’t even sit still for 5 min. We are full of unspoken and unaware emotions. Being alone is nothing for long-term, but it can help us to see our emotions without distraction.
“At some day on my trip I was reaching the coast. I cant explain why, but I cried for 30 min straight.”
#2 Getting more confident
Being alone means being able to make decisions. In our usual environment (comfort zone) we can easily seek for help. We can ask for advice and let others make the decisions for us. First time I was alone and had to take all the decisions by myself I was overwhelmed by it – ya, as stupid as it sounds. I was lost in my freedom. Traveling by yourself is making you jumping in the cold water. It forces you to embrace your confidence. It gives you the power to write you own story.
#3 Being grateful
As formative solo traveling might is, it also makes you feel miserable. At least it does sometimes to me. Feeling lonely is not a pleasant feeling. It can help you develop but it also shows how wonderful and enriching it is to have people around you to share your happiness. Being grateful for family, friends and society.
#4 Meeting new people
It is different to meet people alone or in a group. If you are out with a group of friends and you meet someone new, it is not likely that this person will stay with you for long. You just don’t need a friend right now. Okay, this sounds pretty general, but if you travel alone you are way more open/needy to make new friendships. You are way more active in your approaches. But the pretty thing about being by yourself: You can decide when its time to be social or not.
#5 Experience new sides of you
Before I headed off to my first solo trip, I had no idea about my “adventures” side of me. I didn’t know how I would deal with loneliness, anxiousness, freedom and recklessness. Being by yourself and encounter new experiences shows you were your anxieties, strengths and weaknesses are. But only if you go out there and live them.
All this doesn’t mean you have figured yourself out in one solo-trip. Traveling by yourself is just one way to experience you in a totally different way. It is worth giving a shot and its okay to be afraid.
„Face your fears and use them to grow.“