The thought of going to a foreign country completely by myself use to terrify me and fill me with anxiety. I mean, what if I get taken? My dad does not have the special skill set to track me down.
I always found a reason to stop myself from going, whether it was waiting for enough money or friends schedules to be clear, or that I totally need to lose that extra 15lb for those bikini pics. Somehow time was ticking by and it felt as though the right time to go travelling was slowly slipping away. It felt like a big life event that I needed someone to do with me. Most of my friends had spent their summers interailing around Europe or island hopping South East Asia, and there was me, having visited the Costa Del Sol a few times. Safe to say I was having a Michelle moment when I really wanted to be Beyonces’ answer to travelling.
Around 6 months ago after feeling rather fed up and frustrated, and of course after abusing google for advice on solo travelling I finally FINALLY booked a trip all by myself.
“That’s very brave” was the response from most people.
“That’s amazing!” was the reaction from others.
“That’s weird” said a select few.
For those whom are seasoned travellers, travelling solo would not be daunting at all, you just hop on a plane and off you go! For me however, it felt as though my mind was filled with a plethora of daunting scenarios. I told myself I must get some karate lessons so at least I can totally look cool when I’m fending off all the kidnappers and muggers.
I thought I would start small and book myself a weekend away just to see if I could adult well. I booked a trip in October 2016 to Oslo, the capital of Norway. Why Oslo? I hear you ask, well let me tell you. It seemed a really random choice and it was to be fair, it probably was. The internet (we know how we can trust everything we read on the internet) told me that Norway is one of the most safest countries in the world. It topped polls for the safest for women to travel solo and high on the happiness index. Basically I was less likely to get kidnapped or mugged there, I wont get my karate kit out just yet.
I did all of my research. I booked my flight, packed my bag and before I knew it I was on my way to the airport. It was probably the best decision I made in 2016, not that there were many good decisions the contend with in 2016, (FYI never make the decision to chop all your hair off because you are strong, independent woman who don’t need no hair). You can read all about my weekend in Norway here.
Years ago women did not have the freedoms we have today to feel secure in travelling the world alone, we are not an oddity or a strange taboo restricted by social customs. We have unlimited possibilities if we stop fearing the unknown. From being someone who was terrified at thought of leaving the country by myself, and I mean seriously terrified to not even thinking twice about booking a trip by myself, here are my favourite reasons why you should travel solo:
1. You can go wherever the wind takes you
Queue spontaneous musical number about the world being your oyster. Last minute changes are okay! If you wake up one morning and feel like skipping one city and going to the next place on the map instead there is no one to talk it over with or to disappoint if your plans suddenly change. You can also totally skip that fancy meal, save your money and try the street food (McDonalds, I’m talking about McDonalds) Your itinerary is completely up to you. It is a completely new sense of freedom I had not been use to before.
2. Friends, Friends and more Friends
As a natural extrovert it may surprise people that I find it nerve racking meeting new people. But when you are on the road travelling this is literally all that you do. I’ve lost count of how many introductions I have had. When you are with others it can be natural to depend on them to make the introductions or break the ice or you simply may not involve yourselves with others because you have your own group of friends. Being by yourself forces you to interact with people, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, and yes, there may be people you meet that are more cray cray than Black Chyna screaming at Rob but overall you are all in the same boat and people show kindness even when you don’t expect it.
3. Late Night Epiphanies
Now I’m not talking about in The Simpsons movie where Boob Lady appears to Homer in the sky…that’s a different kind of late night activity. I am talking about learning more about yourself when you didn’t think there was anything left to uncover. Who knows you better than yourself? By being in an environment you have never experienced before you see yourself react differently to scenarios. It helps you to realise who you are, what difference you want to make and what means the most to you.
4. You wont lie on your CV anymore
“I can use my initiative and problem solve in a calm and collected manner”
I think we have all thrown in that phrase in one way or another into a job application and of course it is true to some extent. But there is a different kind of problem solving skills you acquire whilst travelling alone. You will get lost, you will miss your bus, your phone will run out of battery and following directions without Google Maps is just not what our generation is use to. But you will overcome and solve all these little problems and use your initiative to figure out whether eating rice for the next two weeks will mean you can afford to go on that glacier hike.
5. You are in charge of your own budget
Sometimes when you are travelling with your friends you end up spending a bit more than you had originally planned. You buy an extra round of drinks or you end up doing the activity because everyone else is doing it, or simply you end up going out for dinner most nights. Everyone has their own budget and sometimes the trip doesn’t account for this (pun not intended), when you are by yourself you can decide what you spend your money on and this decision isn’t swayed by any other factors.
6. The Winner of Americas Next Top Model is…
Okay so you wont be winning ANTM anytime soon, but you will have the same confidence that comes from being crowned the winner. It is a real sense of achievement. Travelling solo has changed me as a person (God I am a cliche), not that I was the most dependant on others but there is a certain safety net you fall into when you are with a group of people. You have to make the right choices, everything is completely up to you and within your power. You learn from mistakes and try to not repeat them (unless it’s James the tour guide, that’s cool). Travelling solo isn’t made for everyone, but if you are on the brink of deciding whether to go or not rest assured it will possibly be the best decisions you ever make.
“When it feels scary to jump, that’s exactly when you jump.” – Random meme I saw on the internet.