There are many young people nowadays who travel alone but back in 1991 it was rare, in fact, it wasn’t until 1994 when I first came across another solo traveller. She was a beautiful South African girl called Anna, who had just arrived in Southern Spain after spending six months exploring India. The thought of travelling alone around India, even now in 2014, makes me apprehensive, but wow, she was brave and had many fantastic stories to tell. Anna was an inspirational character, and she made me realise that if you wait around for other people to agree to go on holidays and trips, you will see very little of the world.
Had I not plucked up the courage at 18 years old to travel alone I would not have experienced snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef or the views of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building. When I returned to work after my first holiday alone, my work colleagues noticed a difference, I came back with much more confidence and if the truth were known, it was the best decision that I have made so far. Fear stops a lot of people achieving things in their life, and if I had surrendered to that fear I would have never got to know the strong, courageous and adventurous side of me.
I’m not going to tell you that travelling solo is all rosy, and you’ll not encounter any problems, you will, but I do want to tell you why you should travel alone.
Travelling alone makes you a better person
For any of you who feel uncomfortable even sitting alone in a cafe to eat breakfast, taking a trip by yourself might seem impossible. Once you take the plunge and get over your fears, you’ll feel a sense of empowerment. It can inspire you to tackle things in life you’ve been afraid to try. When I was in my late teens I was very shy around people, but travelling alone gave me the confidence to speak to complete strangers and step out of the comfort zone to take opportunities that came my way, from being interviewed on TV, to speaking to a room of 200 people.
While travelling solo, you can leave your grumpy old self behind and start to be a new you. Explore parts of your personality you are not very comfortable with. When travelling, you might be challenged by unexpected factors and be positively surprised how well you respond to them. Empower yourself by unleashing the wonderful person you are, but whom you’ve neglected in your normal life.
Flexibility: Do what you want to do
This might appear selfish, but when you travel solo you are in complete control. You get to set and change the itinerary, and spend money on activities that you enjoy, without feeling the pressure of paying out for things that you don’t really want to do. If one day you do not feel in the mood to socialise you don’t have to, but if you want to make new friends, just go out and talk to people.
You become more open minded
While traveling, you’re open to change and you’ll welcome it. The great thing is that you don’t have to fit into peer pressure, give explanations or disappoint anyone; you can be your own person. When you travel on your own and you start meeting people and making friends, you will change your plans once you hear about that incredible place to go snorkelling, the opportunity to bungee jump from a high bridge, or taste a special delicacy you only find off the beaten track.
Create memories so that you can tell friends stories of your travels. The trip was only yours; it’s a unique experience many people will love to hear about. As long as you make the most of your travels alone, your stories will be fantastic experience that you will never get tired of telling.