To begin this book on the right note, I’d like to introduce you to the rewards of solo travel. There are just so many! Of course there are detractions, and we will work through those in the coming chapters, but to begin with, I want to give you the gems.
You feel stronger in you
I remember walking along the beach in the Gili Islands after a week of ups and downs in mainland Bali. I had been cheated out of a lot of money by a taxi driver, a tour guide, a massage lady and my hotel. I also had some beautiful walks, succulent food and seen monkeys for the first time. But having made my way to these beautiful islands with no motorized transport, white sand and warm luminous waters, I felt somewhat at peace with it. I did it by myself. It was challenging. I saw some gorgeous sights along the way. I felt that if I could come through what I had gone through in the past week, I could do more things by myself. And enjoy them. I felt it was possible.
The good and bad aspects of travel allow you to feel stronger in what you can do by yourself. It makes you understand that a lot more is possible for you.
You feel free
There is nothing like that feeling after checking in and sitting in the waiting lounge before your flight, or as the plane lifts off, or walking out into a different world full of strange new things. It’s that jittery excitement, the wide eyed awe, anticipation of the good things that await. Cocktails, music, staying up late, sleeping in, complete dominion over what you choose to do, whenever you want to do it, is what it’s all about. You have a greater choice. You don’t have to give into your boss’s impositions, you don’t have the everyday family demands, or obligations of same old routines. Most importantly, you don’t have to do what your traveling companion wants or needs to do. You have complete freedom and choice over what you do. And it is just so sweet!
You meet amazing people & see amazing things
I’ve met some of the most interesting and thoughtful people on my journeys around the world. I’ve been lucky to get to know them on a deeper level and I think a lot of this has to do with traveling solo. I’m more available to spend hours / days with new friends. I love this. Having the time to connect closely with people that inspire you is just perfect in my mind. Another aspect to solo travel is seeing the things I enjoy the most. I determine what I want to see and when. I love art galleries and I know not everyone does. Also, I’m a mad hobby photographer and I adore being able to spend inordinate amounts of time at a beautiful spot to get just the right picture. When I’m with others, I’m conscious of this and I rush. This for me is a huge benefit of going solo.
You can survive
If you’ve ever traveled on a train in India (even in first class) and survived the toileting experience, then you know that you can survive anything.
Seriously. All and everything. Anything. Trains in India (and also in most other southeast Asian countries), are a bit special. If they have first class, it usually resembles what we would consider ‘very basic travel’ or let’s just say sixth class. There are no ‘first class’ toilets either. The toilets are the same throughout the train and are used by everyone and anyone. There is no escape. Entering a standard train toilet in these countries, you are always greeted by multiple coats of grime, furry green animals growing out of corners, never ever any toilet paper and rarely a sink that has a functional running tap. The worst is the slimy, slippery, dry-heave inducing hole that you are obliged to squat over (and, dear women, if you are having the unfortunate timing of your menstruation, quite simply, it is hell). You then realize you can survive, and that you are more resilient than you ever thought.
Traveling isn’t always easy but it’s such a fun adventure
I love travel, and I believe it just gets better. Travel certainly is challenging. You are nearly always out of your comfort zone. It’s tiring and sometimes you are pushed to the point of seemingly never ending tears, but it’s also inspiring, eye opening, gratifying and liberating.
It’s an adventure. And aren’t adventures fun?