4 Things You Discover When you Solo Travel for the First Time

September 2, 2020

In the Days Before the ‘Rona, we freely enjoyed activities such as going to the gym, dining in restaurants, and drinking at bars. Pondering on these seemingly distant experiences, I reflect on the travel plans that millions of others and I have placed on indefinite hold. This quarantine time has helped me better understand my wanderlust and why galavanting across the world means so much to travelers. Here are a few of the things that happen when you go into the world.

1. Explore & Experience

As you leave the airport, a sense of excitement and a dash of jetlag begin to take hold as you look forward to new locations and experiences. In my trip to Australia, I saw 3 different cities, 1 beach-side shire, 1 forest, and 1 Great Barrier Reef. I was keen on taking in each spot’s culture, food, natural scenery, and attractions. Even with a relatively condensed itinerary, I look back fondly on the whole experience. A few highlights were:

  • A speakeasy tour all across Melbourne with interesting drinks and alley-side bars
  • Conversing with an Aboriginal and learning about the didgeridoo

Being on your own with backpack in hand, the world truly is your oyster. To see and experience the things that draw your passions and interests — opens up your life to a different way of experiencing it.

2. Live by Your Own Time & Enjoy

Traveling solo, you’re free to go at your own pace which can be both frightening and liberating. Some people pack their days to the gills with excursions, tours, and activities always living in a mad rush to see and experience everything. It’s as if they will get FOMO if they don’t do everything they want to do or have a bit of downtime. On the other side, there are people who embrace the freedom to slow down, drinking in the sights and experiences that appeal to them the most in each location. They approach their travels more as experiences to enjoy rather than a checklist to complete. Solo travelers often fall into this second camp as they have the freedom to design their itineraries often staying in the same region for weeks or months to experience what life is like there.

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Gullfoss Waterfalls | Iceland

3. Meet New People

Your travels can be truly solo, but sooner than later most of us will miss the company of other people.

In a new place, you’re free to leave your bubble behind and meet people from all walks of life. You can be best mates with someone for a day or two, learn their life story, see the sights with them, and never cross paths again. Staying in a hostel versus a different type of lodging can vastly alter the social experience you have while traveling and expose you to many wonderful (or weird) people.

Be open and willing to learn and question your opinions about yourself and others. When you remove the trappings of society, you’ll find you have more in common with that rando from a hostel than you would think upon first glance. You can also have open conversations about life. While in Sydney, I went hiking on the Spit-Manly trail with a backpacker from my hostel talking about life, love, and going your own way. At the time he was biking from Brisbane to Perth and shared his reflections of life on the road and riding into each town. From swapping stories like these, I learned the value of “getting lost” in the world.

Quick tip: Say Hi to Everyone. Doing this opens more doors on your travels than anything else will. Many people you meet are eager to meet others and go on an adventure or two but are a bit shy to approach others.

4. Make Time to Reflect

You bring your whole self when you travel. When you solo travel, your most consistent and steadfast companion is your mind. During your downtime, it naturally reflects on the course of your life — where you’ve been and where you can go. These contemplations are ongoing experiences that parallel your physical travels making it so you are on two different trips at the same time, one physical and one mental.

Many solo travelers seek to break away from their routines and “find themselves,” becoming more realized versions of themselves through their experiences. Keeping a journal on hand, is a great tool to capture your thoughts and develop them into insights. Solo travelers often keep a travel journal to document their thoughts and catalog mementos. The Japanese translation up above is such an example.

While in Australia, I kept one and frequently wrote in it throughout my trip. Journaling helped me understand what I wanted out of my trip and reflect on my daily experiences. When I was in the moment traveling, my satisfaction with an experience increased and took on a new dimension as I wrote about it. As I look back on my trip, I’m happy that I documented my experiences and what I learned from them. There’s something about writing down where you are in the moment and how it affects you at that time and whenever you look back on it.

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Travel Journal | Soothi

Solo traveling can be an awesome and challenging experience, full of great moments and personal growth. If you’re in need of inspiration to start your travel journey, check out this Reddit thread from r/solotravel.

Once the ‘rona ends — get out into the world again. It’s a big and amazing place to venture into.
Featured Image: Writing my Name Beachside | Noosa, Australia