"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Traveling of any kind is not the easiest thing to do right now, especially if you are from the US. That being said, we can still at least talk about travel, right? Traveling through Central America, South America, and now Southeast Asia has been a definite highlight of my life. Fear has gripped me at times, but I have a tendency to want to do the things I fear. I grew up afraid a lot and had to learn to master many different aspects of fearful things in my life. I got bullied. My cousin taught me to fight back. To do that, he taught me getting hit in the face wasn't the worst thing in the world. Then I began to stand my ground and give hits as well as I took them. That moment was the beginning of my observation of the fear in myself and my desire to not let it conquer me. Vietnam scared me. That's even the title of a blog post. Now I'm here in Vietnam and don't want to leave. These are my 10 reasons solo travel is a must-do for you at some point in your life. By the way, all the women in these portraits are world travelers doing their own thing, whom I've met along the way. The first one, Heather, is a dear friend who is likely the biggest influence on my travel habits today.
If it's just you, you can eat someplace cheap or skip meals. If it's you and a buddy, partner, or spouse, you will likely feel obligated to eat somewhere where you both can agree and you're more likely to eat someplace that is more upscale than had you been by yourself. I can skip breakfast, (usually because I sleep in and miss it.) and I do not feel some sense of obligation to get breakfast so the other person doesn't eat alone. This isn't with just food. You are more likely to take cheaper transportation if you are by yourself. You can get a smaller, thus cheaper room. Now you can save your money for the things that really matter, like experiences, tours, etc.
2. Time is on Your Side
You can set your own clock now and chose to delay or ignore it entirely. When you want to move, go somewhere, or do anything, you can wait or do it earlier and not have to worry about breaking an agreed upon timetable with someone else. I did a 6-hour cave tour once. I can tell you for fact, I would never have been able to say that had I waited for all the people who told me they would gladly do it with me. Instead, I jumped in my car, drove the two and a half hours to Mammoth Caves, signed up with a tour group, and just did it.
3. Freedom to Chart Your Own Course
Trying to decide on where to go? Now you can make that trip that you've always wanted when nobody else wanted to. You are the decision maker of your own course. Try it!
At your leisure, you can choose to stay at one spot longer than intended or leave early. You can cancel a certain part of a trip or add onto your itinerary as you like. It's up to you.
Not everything is going to go as planned. Things happen. You will learn much more self-reliance and self-confidence that will benefit you in so many other ways in life. You will absolutely be able to check the block on Personal Growth. I'm here on my own in Vietnam during a GLOBAL pandemic. I can tell you it has not been the easiest choice to make to stay and not run home. And I am so glad I chose to stay.
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends”
~ Shirley MacLaine
Lots of people you meet on the road while traveling will chose not to engage you if you are already with someone else, mostly locals. If you are alone, I think you are much more approachable and they will be more apt to help you with food selections, directions, reading menus, etc. Next thing you know, you're having beers together, playing pool, or going on trips. Now you have a local guide!
7. New Experiences Will Build You Up
Right in line with learning about yourself and meeting new people, you will encounter these new experiences that will become the stories of your life. This is what living is all about. It is a process of learning and these are experiences that you bring back home will encourage others to follow your path.
8. Facing Challenges When Plans Fall Apart
Not all these experiences have positive outcomes, but you learn how to deal with them and overcome them. And these are character building exercises that help you grow as a person. Becoming a traveler helps you grow as a person and a human being. But that only works if you learn to take each negative experience and learn from them. That's just life. But here's the real gem. Sometimes when things don't go according to plan, it's a good thing. They will often go better than you could ever have imagined.
9. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
This is the greatest thing you can do for yourself. It is impossible to grow as a person unless you remove yourself from your own fishbowl. Swim in new waters. See how other cultures have lived their lives and learn what you can from them.
10. More Thorough Reflection of It All
Solo travel is a special thing. And when you look back through it all, you see how tough, smart, and resourceful you really are. It may inspire you to write a book or a blog post, but you will inevitably contemplate why you hadn't done it sooner AND why everyone doesn't do solo travel from time to time.
“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.”
~ Barbara De Angelis
I am no where near done and, God willing, I'll continue this adventure for several more years. As I look back on the 32 months I've been traveling like this, I see all the faces of the people whom I've met that have helped me, took care of me, and entertained me along the way. I have learned so much in this time and I want to experience so much more. There is a whole lot of unseen world yet for me to explore and I can't wait. Well, I am willing to wait here in Vietnam for a while and let the world settled back down a little. I figure another year here will suffice... hopefully.
Be sure to catch me next time when I tell you about why Solo Travel sucks.