8 reasons why everyone should travel alone once in his/her life
Last October I wrote my first “article” or whatever you could call it. I had just come back from Costa Rica and some of the people I’d seen after my return didn’t get why I could possibly enjoy traveling by myself. I tried to explain, but still they didn’t seem to really understand, so I decided to write it down on a hangover Sunday afternoon. The reactions on my Facebook post actually inspired me to start this blog, so it seemed fair to post it here as well.
8 Reasons why everyone should travel alone once in his/her life
March 2014, my workload was too high and I needed a little break and some self-reflection; barely 32, the world still at my feet, but not knowing which direction I needed to take. I decided to pack my bags and travel through Indonesia on my own. Easier said than done, because soon I stepped on the toes of those who could take the same time off and liked to join me in Asia. No, I wanted to do it alone. For the experience.
Why would I think everyone should travel alone at least once in his/her life?
1. The great people you meet
Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that traveling with a partner or a good friend is very nice. But a lot of the magic of traveling alone lies in the great people you meet along the way. When you’re traveling as a couple or in a group, you have the tendency to hold on to them and be less open. The interactions and dynamics with others aren’t as deep and satisfying than when you enter a new group of people, just you.
2. The overwhelming feeling of absolute freedom
You leave with a plan, or more or less. You might sketch a route you would like to follow and study the places and activities to do. But you don’t have to hang on to that plan. And there’s no-one to explain your actions to.
Staying one more night in a city because you met someone nice? Just do it! No friend who starts whining because you’ve just spent €10 on that overnight train departing in an hour. Arriving somewhere to leave again the next day (or even after a few hours) because you don’t quite feel the “vibe”? It’s all ok. You’re the only one who decides what happens, when it happens and with whom.
You never have to adapt to the plans of others, there’s never a need to compromise and you’re more open to change. You actually wanted to climb a volcano today, but the nice guys you were drinking with last night ask you to join them to the beach? You and only you decide what you want to do. No hard feelings. Your rhythm, your pace.
3. Being you
Travel can be a perfect excuse to skip a shower (since all you’ll be doing that day is surfing, sitting on the bus, or secretly just because the water feels too cold), distance yourself from make-up or walk around with a debatable hairstyle.
We pay attention to our appearance because it makes us sexy. Or so we believe at home. Often it’s necessary for our job to look good or it’s expected from us when going out. But once you drop the façade, you discover that you’ve actually a lot more to offer than what people see. It’s more about who you are inside, and you’ll be amazed how others may think your knowledge to be as sexy as those push-up bra or smokey eyes.
4. Falling in Love
True, chances are slim that it will end up at an altar, but you meet a lot of people with the same dreams and interests, from all different walks of life. Inevitable that occasionally someone will take you on his wave and you’ll catch yourself with tiny butterflies. Sure, the exotic location and romantic sunrises and sunsets will probably have something to do with it, but that’s irrelevant.
5. Discovering who you were, who you are and who you would like to be
Suddenly you have in-depth conversations with new instant friends. People who know nothing about you, apart from what you tell them or what they discover from your current behavior. It is surprising what insights they sometimes have from their unbiased position.
You get to know your weaknesses at times when you’re alone and you get an opportunity to leave them behind. You discover positive qualities of the people you meet and realize that you want to be more like them. Empower yourself and be that beautiful, irresistible and intelligent person that you are and that gets neglected at home by the daily grind and routine.
6. Leaving it all behind
Forget that routine from home and the stress of your work or studies. “Forget” to check those emails just for once, they will still be there when you come back. Same goes for all other responsibilities, duties and obligations. There is no-one around to remind you of what’s waiting when you get home, except for yourself.
In addition, you often come up with great solution when you’re no longer thinking about the problem. Allow your brains a little time-out and they will function better when you get back. Put your smartphone away and leave it all behind …
7. Getting pampered
A 2h massage plus facial? You have the time. Take that time to let yourself relax and treat yourself. When do you ever make it to a “morning yoga session” at home? And when is that yoga room overlooking an incredible natural scenery or does it come with the sounds of the ocean? I rest my case.
Relax, enjoy and nurture yourself. Immerse yourself to your highest priority. Happiness is a right, not a privilege.
8. Discovering that money isn’t everything
Money is nice to have. You can do and buy fun things with it, but at the end it’s the simple things that are priceless. The tastiest meals are often inexpensive street food, the most beautiful sun is the one that appears after a heavy walk.
Also comfort isn’t everything. Occasionally you end up in a dodgy place and the beds are not always soft, but it will only make you realise more how good you have it when you get home. You’ll appreciate that hot shower and those fluffy towels more than ever and you rediscover the little things we too often take for granted.
The great contradiction about traveling alone and de-connecting, is that in the end it’s all about connecting. To discover, from the moment you leave your comfort zone and open yourself up for new experiences, people and impressions.