Solo Travel – A Journey of Self-Discovery

Solo travel is trending! It conjures images of dancing with locals on cobblestone roads as a mariachi band plays you into the sunset. Or nestling into a snow bank with a thermos of hot chocolate, as the Northern Lights orchestrate overhead. Fully immersed in the experience your mind dances in the stratosphere, free of the constraints of everyday life. Stress evaporates, creativity is piqued, and the simple enjoyment of being alive is transported to the foreground.

Although much of our lives are spent around the people we love, true self-discovery is difficult to achieve in this context. We are constantly worrying or appeasing the needs of others, whether we are aware of it or not. An ancient Greek aphorism “gnothi seauton,” translated to English as “know thyself,” comes to mind.  Our environment from an early age shapes many of our thoughts and behaviors, and it can be difficult to dissociate ourselves from who we really are from who everyone wants us to be. Strip yourself from these shackles!  Seek adventure!  Put yourself first on a journey of self-discovery!

So you’re sitting at your desk and you’ve stumbled upon this blog post about solo travel. I want you to be inspired. I want you to think about travel not as a vacation, but as an investment in yourself and what you can contribute globally. Your first instinct will be to think of all the barriers preventing you from going on a trip of self-discovery: academic, family, employment, and financial barriers. While many of these considerations are reasonable, to achieve personal growth one must focus on themselves. The essence of solo travel is to free yourself from worrying about barriers. Taking time for yourself will make you, and the people around you, better in all of your different roles in life. Solo travel may be the vessel that allows you to facilitate the betterment of your life, or you may find or already have another vessel equally capable. It’s up to you to set your own course and follow the stars.

Here are the top 10 benefits of solo travel:

  1. Independence – Making your own decisions of where you want to go, what you want to see, not relying on others, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, discovering who you are, and having a blast doing it.
  2. Confidence – You’re going to come back more confident in your own abilities. A sense of accomplishment when you return will complement the fulfillment you experienced during the adventure.
  3. Drama-free – You will not be bogged down in everyone else’s drama! We love our friends and family, but sometimes they drive us crazy.  Enjoy focusing on your own thoughts, emotions, and desires.
  4. Reflection – It is important to reflect upon experiences in our lives, but we do not always get the quality of reflection we need. To be able to remove yourself from an experience, be aware of all your biases, and understand all perspective of an issue is difficult. Time and thought are required. Gift them to yourself.
  5. Understanding new perspectives – Intuitively, being on your own allows you to be more open to social experiences. Striking up conversations with complete strangers becomes the norm.  Like my grandmother always told me, “When your heart is open; love will find you.”
  6. Develop empathy – As technology further permeates our society, it is easy to “silo” ourselves to our own experience. Solo travel opens you to other ways of thinking and life. The understanding and being open to new perspectives & experiences allows you to develop empathy for all life.
  7. Openness to new experiences – Invest in yourself and choose adventure. Taking that first step is the hardest, but once you do so many diverse experiences and opportunities become open to you.  You will make life-long friendships, be inspired and pursue new career and volunteer opportunities, find out what truly matters to you – the possibilities are endless!  Do your best SpongeBob SquarePants impression and absorb everything!
  8. Empowerment – Being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want is instantly empowering! You are the master of your own experience.
  9. Life skills – Prudence, altruism, honesty, openness, awareness, objectivity, empathy, self-efficacy leadership, and many more great qualities can be obtained. Also you will become an expert in trip planning duties such as flights, accommodation and transportation.
  10. Motivation – The ability to draw on one’s own experiences as motivation is invaluable. If I am lonely, I am able to remember occasions of connections and love with people all around the world.  It enables me to understand that everyone struggles, but the simple enjoyment of life does not depend on materialistic possessions, or pleasing everyone. The joy of being alive, vivid experiences, and the recognition that all of humanity is connected, never leaves you. Draw from it when you need to.

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