“In school you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
I have been travelling alone for three months and it has taught me a number of important lessons; a lot of useful things that I’m now carrying with me…
- The world is not as big as it seems: People always tell me that travelling to the otherside of the world is a ‘brave’ thing to do. Once you’re here the world doesn’t seem so big and daunting. When you meet someone 10 minutes from where you’re from or find things that remind you of home, you realise it’s actually a pretty small place.
- You can enjoy your own company and that’s ok: Before I came travelling, I would never have sat and ate in a restaurant alone, or spent the whole day by myself, and still had a great time. When you arrive in a new city knowing nobody, you don’t have a choice. I’ve experienced some of the most incredible things on my own; tasting the best food and seeing the most wonderful views. It is definitely an important part of my own personal experience.
- It’s often who you’re with, not what you’re doing: Like I said, doing things alone is perfectly OK, but doing things with the right people is equally as great. On my birthday I didn’t do anything special, in the sense I didn’t go out and spend lots of money. That didn’t matter, and I still had the best birthday. Solely due to having a great group of people to spend it with. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re in good company is what makes it enjoyable. The people you meet as a solo traveller can really influence your time in a place.
- The world is too amazing to stay in one place: Three months is a relatively short amount of time, and I’ve only seen a snapshot of what the world has to offer. Already, I recognise how incredible the world is. Many people go their whole lives staying in the same country, maybe even the same town. Don’t limit, yourself when there is so much to appreciate and explore. Different cultures, delicious food and beautiful natural wonders.Take the opportunity to experience what the world has to offer. I’ve only just started travelling but I never want to stop.
- What will be will be: This is something I have personally had to take on board. I found it particularly difficult to deal with the way people come and go when you’re travelling. It happens to everyone. You make a friend that you click with instantly and feel like you’ve known them forever. Before you know it people move on to new places; that’s what backpacking is about. It’s difficult not having a stable group of friends like you would back home. However if somebody is meant to stay in your life they will, if you’re meant to stay in touch with them you will and if they’re not, they’re not. Appreciate the time you have with these people, whether it’s a day, a week or a few months. People come and go, but that doesn’t make your time with them any less great.
- Planning and organisation isn’t always the way: People who know me well, will agree that I like to have a set plan, I like structure. Travelling has meant I have had to steer away from plans and just go with the flow. Barely planning anything but my first flight, and then making it up as I went along. Being spontaneous has made my trip smoother. I’m never too commited to one place but have the option to extend my stay. Being on my own has made spontaneity much easier.
- Challenge yourself: Travelling alone has not been as easier as I imagined. It’s definitely an emotional roller coaster; there are ups and downs. It has been challenging, but I’ve learnt that life would be boring if we didn’t give ourselves a test once in a while. I’ve pushed myself so many times to do things out of my comfort zone. I’ve jumped out of a plane at 14000, I’ve fed and bathed elephants, and now I’m learning to surf. Life is too short to safely cruise through it.
- Find what you love doing and don’t stop doing it: As cliché as it sounds, if you love something, don’t stop. Get up and do it. I always wanted to travel, so completely on my own I have planned and saved up for my trip. I’m out here doing what I love and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Don’t wait for other people, and always put your dreams first.
- Be friendly to everyone you meet: A good friend of mine out here actually gave me the idea of this point. Solo travel may seem like a daunting lonely thing, but a simple ‘hey how are you’ can start a great friendship. Most of my friendships out here, were made from a simple greeting, which has quickly developed into a great friendship. I’m as close to some of the friends I’ve made along the way, as I am to my friends back home. There is no trick to making friends, except be friendly and be yourself.
- Don’t care what people think. I think before I left, like most people, it concerned me what people thought of me (even if I probably wouldn’t have admitted it). It probably did restrict me to start with, making friends seems daunting when you have this attitude. It’s taken me three months to start my blog, purely because I didn’t think people would like what I had wrote or even care to read. But solo travel had taught me to do what I want to do without a care in the world to what people think.
Solo travel is the hardest but most rewarding thing I have done, however there is nothing I would change. The friends I have made and all the incredible opportunities I have had make every moment worthwhile
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”