I’m Traveling Solo (And You Should Too)
Do you dream of seeing the world? Filling your passport with stamps? But you don’t have a travel partner to come along? Not to worry. Solo travel is the next greatest thing in travel.
Alright, so flying across the world alone can be terrifying. Hell, if you’re like me, you don’t have experience in doing much on your own. In my case, I went from living at home to living with my husband. I think I had a couple months where I was technically living alone. But that was it. And the fiance was always coming over so I wasn’t really alone. If this is you, leaving the country and being away from those you depend on for days, weeks, or even months at a time seems completely impossible (and crazy!).
And not only is it NOT impossible (or crazy), it’s also chalk full of benefits. Though I plan on writing a transformation post when I return from my trip, I thought I’d tell you the reasons I’m going alone. And if you can identify with any of these reasons, it’s time to consider taking your own solo trip.
So take note. Solo travel is an opportunity, not a punishment. And here’s why I’m going solo!
People always described me in similar ways as a youth. Sassy, spunky, feisty, independent. That final word is key. Independent. Am I? Was I? I think as a child, independent can only mean so much. I mean, a child depends on everything from their parent(s). And yet I clung to that description. I lavished in its connotations. I was independent. It’s a motivating thing to call yourself. And yet, looking at my life, I don’t know how true it is.
I have never really lived on my own. I’ve never navigated a new city. I’ve been with my husband for 9 years, so I have gone soft and let myself depend on him. I’ve let myself get lazy. I let him lead the way at airports, or choose what’s for dinner. I wasn’t independent. I never got the opportunity to be.
And so this trip will test that characteristic. It’s not enough to prove to myself that I wasn’t independent before, but it will force me to be independent now. I don’t have to worry or be sad that I wasn’t truly independent before. I know for a fact, solo travel will make me a far more independent person. I’ll finally prove to myself that I am independent.
Learn Who I Really Am
Being married my entire adult life, I think I’ve lost who I am a little bit. On a daily basis I say, “I don’t care” about the same decisions that impact my day. They aren’t huge decisions, but while I was living this 9-5 grind life, they meant the world. And I gave them up. What do you want to watch? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What do you want to eat? I don’t care, whatever, you choose. I gave up my choice in favor of someone else’s comfort and happiness. Was it easier or was it truly thoughtfulness that made me say the words over and over like a broken record, making me seem as un-individualistic as possible?
Not anymore. By taking this trip solo, I’ll be forced to make the decisions. And in doing so, I’ll learn a great deal about who I am and what I like and don’t like. I’ll find out my favorite foods, I’ll let things impact me without being influenced by anyone. We don’t consider how much of our preferences and impressions are affected by others.
If I see a woman making jewelry on the street, only I can determine my reaction. I could take a photo, I could stop and talk to her, I could keep going, I could buy something, I could be inspired or saddened. The point is, I get to determine MY reaction of everything I encounter. I don’t think this is valued enough. Your individual perspective and impression should be treasured. For my first trip, I don’t want to be influenced by anyone but myself. I’ll let inspiration strike, I’ll act when prompted, and never once doubt myself based on my companion or put their opinion first by asking “What do you think?” I’ll have to decide, on my own, what I think.
Because I’m a Woman
Yes, though many think this should be on a list of reasons NOT to travel solo, I think it’s the most important one for a woman. Women are told their whole lives, whether directly or indirectly, they are worth less then men. We are given traits to have, such as calm, polite, obedient, silent, put-together, and expected to find contentment at home. We are taught to depend on men. We are taught to seek protection from them.
Newsflash: Women aren’t all like this.
Men on the other hand are encouraged to seek their fortune, to have adventures, to be brave, to take life by the horns. They are never told how dangerous it is out there for them. They don’t live by a set of rules to avoid rape or murder like women. To men, traveling solo isn’t a worry. His friends and family don’t doubt him. But for a woman, everyone assumes the worst.
Which is why it’s of utmost importance for a woman to travel solo. So she can prove to herself, and others, that women don’t need men, don’t need protecting, and don’t need to fear the world. To give a woman confidence is to give her a soul, a heart, a voice. To shatter the brainwashing she’s been subjected to all her life, to prove to herself she can be brave and adventurous on her OWN, is monumental.
Hardest Trip First
As the first solo trip of many to come, this trip has to count– it’ll set me up for all future trips. Which is all the more reason for it to be solo.
By venturing all the way to Asia, a country of stark differences, vibrant cultures, and languages completely foreign to my ears, is the biggest challenge I think for my first trip. If I can do it solo, I’m certain that future travels will be much easier. I’m starting with the hardest trip. Yes it will be difficult, yes I’ll have challenges and bad days, but when I come back, I’ll be so much more confident in every trip after.
Self-Improvement Boot Camp
Ever look at yourself in the mirror, and think, who the hell am I? Do you ever wish you were more confident, adventurous, caring, generous, inspirational, courageous? You know, all those positive traits you’d like to assign yourself but aren’t quite sure they belong (like me with “independent”). I like to think I’m brave, but am I? I’d call myself adventurous, but what have I done to prove that? I wish I could be a little more generous. I just want to be a better person.
We know all of these positive traits take time to develop. Sometimes lots of time. But what if you could condense a bunch of positive traits and give yourself a little bootcamp where you really challenge yourself for a short time and all those positive traits skyrocketed? Sounds scary, but also much better and easier than the alternative way, right?
Travel is that boot camp. Solo travel in particular will increase many individualistic traits. Not just a little, but a LOT. And in a short time. Granted, if you want the biggest transformation, or to keep transforming, you must keep traveling. But even one trip, especially a solo trip, will transform you.
Personally, I love the idea of coming back a new person, a guaranteed better person. I’ll come back knowing more Mandarin and some Thai. I’ll return with a wider perspective and a deeper understanding of the cultures I visited. I’ll be more spontaneous from accepting random offers, more trusting of strangers who I’ll depend on, more adventurous, braver, more independent, more open-minded, and more caring as I lend my time and efforts to others. I’ll see things that will change me. I’ll meet people that will deeply touch me. I’ll take pictures worth a thousand words. And I’ll be forced to transform into a slightly better version of my current self.
See Who I Could Be
This might sound silly. I can be me anywhere right? Wrong. I truly feel like people should move to be as happy as they could be. Not everyone is born in the perfect country for them. So what type of person do I want to be? What type of person could I be through travel?
Maybe paddle boarding is my favorite sport. Maybe photography becomes an obsession once I have endless beautiful subjects to capture. Maybe my love of animals leads me to more opportunities to help them. Maybe my hair and skin react much better in humid, tropical climates than harsh dry ones.
I hate cooking, I’d be happier in a place where I don’t have to cook so much. I hate wasting money, so I’d be happier with a cheaper cost of living. I love night life, and would be happier living in a bustling city for a while. I want to become fluent in Mandarin, so clearly living in a Mandarin-speaking country would benefit me. I value fresh food, so I’d be happier in a place where my mangoes weren’t on a truck for weeks before arriving at the store. I hate snow-nuff said.
Do you see a pattern? Do you see where my current place (Utah, USA) makes me unhappy and where other places could make me much happier? I want to know who I could be. Who I really am, when given all the options, not options limited to my state and country. I only know who Shelby is in Utah. But I guarantee, Shelby in Utah is much different from Shelby in Thailand (or Germany or South Africa or Colombia).
I want to see who I really am. And that means providing myself every environment to find where I belong, where I’m happiest. This requires experiencing a country on my own to see how I like myself in each country.
It will come as no shock to anyone that has read this blog, that I crave freedom. I got a little taste when I left Mormonism, and I got a huge bite when I decided to be childfree. And let me tell you, freedom is a drug. I crave more.
You can’t get much more freedom then when you travel alone. You make no compromises with anyone. If you want to see something or go somewhere, you do. That’s freedom and that’s irreplaceable. I want a taste of that.
Crush The Comfort Zone
It’s a lot easier to stay in the safety of your comfort zone when you travel with a spouse or friend or partner. They won’t make you do something you don’t want (if they’re cool). It’s easy to avoid talking to strangers, making friends, even saying “no” is easier when you are with others. But if you really want to step outside this cushy safety, it’s best to go it alone. Solo travel offers the opportunity to do things you might not do if you were influenced by others. It weakens that comfort zone because now it’s just YOUR comfort zone, not multiple people’s comfort zones. And when it’s just you, things are a lot easier to say yes to. At least, you don’t have as many excuses to say no.
Be Enough Company
What does this mean? It can be translated many ways. Learning to love myself, learning I don’t need someone else to be happy, etc. I want my own company to be enough. When the hubs and I spend even a few days apart, it’s hard to sleep. It’s hard to do anything. I’ll wander around, thinking “What do I want to do?” I don’t know what to do with the freedom and how to just entertain myself. I don’t want to be uncomfortable shopping by myself or seeing a movie alone. I want to be able to sleep alone. I want to be content going out to eat by myself.
I want my own company to be enough. I think when we have friends and partners, we forget how we were before they came along. We fixate on how to make them happy, and we forget ourselves. We care about what’ll entertain us both, not just us. We become not enough, we become foreign to ourselves, like an awkward friend we’ve lost touch with.
I want to get to know myself again, but not just that. I want to love myself. I want to look forward to time on my own. I want to enjoy my company, not dread the solitude. I want to be enough.
Alright, while I could go on about the many, many benefits of solo travel, this isn’t that type of post. There are a ton. But seeing as I haven’t gone yet, I can’t testify to them just yet. This is just a list of reasons why I’m choosing to go alone. If you can agree with even one of these, that’s reason enough for you to give solo travel a go. It doesn’t have to be a long trip. I’m going for three months, but you can start with three weeks, three days even!
You are enough company. Prove it to yourself. Fly solo. Or if you’re not ready, follow Life Outside the Cage as I do it first. I’ll provide tips, advice, motivation, and plenty of reasons to get you out traveling!
Have you traveled solo yet? Still have worries? Let’s talk in the comments!