I’ve traveled solo a lot. Not everybody always thought that was a good idea. My travel agent thought I would die visiting Canada in winter. My friends thought I lost it when I traveled to South America by myself. Most people shy away from traveling alone, and don’t end up going anywhere. I embrace travel, and especially traveling solo. It’s a catalyst for personal growth (as long as you do follow some basic safety guidelines).
Traveling solo is the ultimate freedom. You don’t have to take anybody else into consideration. Even if you love them, removing any outside influence clears a level of noise. The itinerary you set is yours alone. The decisions you make are yours alone. The entire trip is your creation, without concern to another person or even group of people. No compromises, no arguments, and (almost) no second-guessing.
Traveling is a confidence builder as well. On my first-ever plane trip, I remember feeling so far away from everything. Do you know the GPS map on board the plane where they show the destination as a red dot? I felt like that red dot, far removed from everything familiar. I was further away from home than I had ever been before. For the first time in my life I didn’t have much to rely on. Even though at times lost in unfamiliar territory, I was never scared. Looking back I realize the value of that first plane ride. It set in motion a chain of events that led to many great things happening. I found a new confidence in myself – and a lot of wanderlust along with it. I had to see more of the world. This is the power of traveling solo. You have to solve all your problems by yourself. You’ll learn to rely on just you. You’re forced to find new ways to make yourself comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
“I fell in love with the exceptional things I saw and the remarkable people who crossed my path” (Wilko van de Kamp)
Later trips, when I became more comfortable, were a bit lonely. I had learned to become comfortable being uncomfortable through travel. Now that I was ok being by myself, I wanted to add some company to the mix. When you’re traveling alone, people are always more willing to start a conversation. When you’re with someone else, or in a group, people tend to stay away and not intrude. People stay away from couples and groups. Couples and groups exclude everyone not part of that inner circle. You’ll do the same and stay within the confines of the group you’re traveling with. When you’re by yourself, you might take the initiative and strike up a conversation. Talking to strangers doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Someone who ends up beside you on your next flight might be there for a reason. Give it a chance. I’ve had spontaneous invitations for a meal, excursions, even a stay at someone’s home. Today I have more friends around the world then I have in my home town. When I’m at home I miss many of the amazing people I’ve met. As I say on my photographic art site, “I fell in love with the exceptional things I saw and the remarkable people who crossed my path”. From feeling lonely while traveling I now sometimes feel lonely at home. Time to book another trip.
“One travels more usefully when alone because he reflects more.” (Thomas Jefferson)
When you travel, you leave everything behind that’s familiar. Except the one thing you can’t leave behind: yourself. Jefferson’s quote is true. When traveling solo you have time for contemplating anything you want. You could even decide to write down your thoughts in a book on your next trip. You’ll still have enough time for sightseeing. The most important thing you’ll get out of your solo travels is a sense of independence. Especially if you’re a people-pleaser and are always trying to make other people happy, a trip by yourself will do you good.
Sounds great if you’re single. Traveling alone might be your only option. People tend to still not go because they think they need that traveling companion to be safe. Not true. I have a whole section in my travel hacking book about staying safe while traveling. It all boils down to a version of being aware of your surroundings. Which you should be no matter where in the world you are. Especially while you’re single, you should go. But what if you’re not single? I write about that too. You have an eager significant other who doesn’t let you go. I’ve heard this one a lot. It often says something about the relationship. In my Freedom Project Love book I share my thoughts on the topic in more detail. Your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other may feel insecure when you take off by yourself. You can’t ignore those feelings and just go. You also can’t ignore your own feelings and not go. You’ll have to open up these relationships and communicate the value of traveling solo. In my Love book I introduce my idea of a conscious relationship, instead of one based on exclusion. One in which your loved one will be open and secure enough to allow your wish to become reality.
My book The Freedom Project shares many of my stories that I discovered while traveling solo. In the book, I teach the model I’ve applied to travel. My form of travel hacking has nothing to do with cheap travel. I travel well and enjoy the experience, meanwhile still using travel as a catalyst for personal growth. Some have called my book “the zen approach to travel“. In the Freedom Project series, you’ll discover a model to travel and life life on your terms. As long as you’re willing to leave everything behind, there’s a great world to discover – both outside and inside yourself.
Why not plan a solo trip this year? This blog shares many travel resources to help you book that perfect trip. Embrace the unknown. Welcome adventure. I’m sure you’ll discover enough to write a book once you decide to “just fly“. It’s your life!
I discovered a new liberating experience each time I go anywhere – near or far. Every time I fly, I remember feeling like that red dot on the map after my first plane ride. I still enjoy having a simple cup of coffee at 30,000 feet. Albeit in business class now more often than not. Through living my life by experience, I still rebel at conformity. I don’t do well when others try to put restrictions on me. The concept of freedom is an absolute. I don’t make concessions and don’t settle.
I challenge you to do the same. Answer your inner travel calling. Pick up your courage and let your heart lead the way to a new adventure and unfamiliar surroundings. Be it near or far — go alone!