“Some journeys in life can only be traveled alone.”
― Ken Poirot
You are about to get on a plane to a place you’ve never been before. Maybe you couldn’t convince anyone to join you, but you realize that if you sit around waiting for people, you will probably never go. Do I really want to get on the plane by myself? What if my ATM card stops working? What if I get lost? Am I really doing this? This is the normal pre-adventure mindset before you embark on a solo trip, especially if it’s your first time. Your mind is trying to protect you from the unknown, yet your spirit wants to push you to the next level, despite your fears.
I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of solo travel. It’s empowering to think about showing up to a new place unsure about what you are going to encounter, figuring it out on your own, and proving to yourself that it can be done. As a women, it can be even more challenging. There’s already enough stigma about the dangers of traveling in general, and then you add in a woman by herself and you’ve set the scene for a Liam Neeson movie. The worried words of family and friends can be intimidating, but don’t let it stop you.
I realized I needed to try this adventure at least once in my life, so I recently spent a month on my own in the Philippines. Honestly, it was phenomenal. People acted like I was doing something really profound. But once I got there, I realized it wasn’t that profound at all. In fact, it was easy. So easy that the hardest part was figuring out who would take my photo.
The truth is that you are never alone. There’s always a helping hand or a new friend to meet. Think of it like being at home running errands and meeting people at the gas station, or the bank, or the grocery store. It’s even easier when traveling because people are there for the same reasons, so they are usually open to getting to know you. The only times I felt lonely were when I decided not to make an effort to connect with others.
There’s a certain mindset that the solo traveler carries: they know they are solely in charge of their time and will get as much out of the experience as they press into it. They have to push themselves out of their comfort zones. If you want to meet others, you will meet others. If you want to spend days alone, you can do that, too. I have to admit, I was a lot more cautious than normal. More aware of my surroundings, my belongings, and the friends I made. But I still went out and met people to adventure with throughout the month.
You will have awkward moments, so embrace them. I remember I was taking the public transportation to my next destination and I was the only American in a van full of British people. They spent the next few hours talking about their culture, TV shows, and cracking jokes about topics I didn’t know much about (normal American/British disconnect, haha). So deep down I felt pretty awkward, but I just embraced it. I ended up going with the flow and accepting an invitation to hang out with them. It turned out to be some of my most fun days traveling.
You become more cerebral when you travel by yourself. You may experience a new place and allow yourself to get caught up in your thoughts or in your prayers, digesting all that you encountered without needing to turn it into conversation. I journaled a lot more, read a lot more, and did more soul-searching than I probably would have if I traveled with someone else. But that is part of the journey. Don’t fear your shadow.
Overall, the experience was worth it and I can’t wait for my next solo escape!