To Awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasantest sensations in the world ~ Freya Stark
Traveling the world was always in the cards for me. I’m a dreamer. What I didn’t expect, was to be traveling the world alone. They say that those who travel the world alone can start today. But those who travel with others have to wait until the other is ready; this is pretty damn true.
Rewind a year ago to the day; I was saying my final goodbyes and holding in tears as I waved my family goodbye and disappeared through security. I had mixed feelings, fears of what lay ahead, excitement for finally traveling the world and sadness leaving my family. Making the decision to travel the world solo is the best decision I have ever made. I’m not going to lie and pretend at times it hasn’t been lonely and scary; because it has. There’s been times when I’d rather been in my hometown with my friends than in a new place trying to make them. And much to my surprise, I’ve struggled at times with homesickness. But as cliché as it is, traveling the world has taught me a hell of a lot about myself.
So what is it like spending a year traveling the world alone? It’s an awesome rollercoaster, but let me break it down for you;
You’ll Find Pleasure Following Your Curiosity
The sense of wonder is probably what drove you to book that plane ticket, hop on that train or jump in the car. They say that the sense of wonder is the most precious trait a person can hold, because once you lose that complacency sets in and that for most of us, is what we are afraid of. The fear of complacency drives us to travel.
The scariest part of traveling the world alone, is making the decision to actually do it. You’re going against the grain of society, not choosing the typical path or settling into a routine with responsibilities. You’re following your curiosity. As you travel you’ll trust your instincts, you’ll follow curiosity and discover some incredible things. You’ll wander off the tourist trail, down side streets and into some dark stores with beautiful things. You’ll trust strangers, stay with them and ask curious questions with growing ease.
Following your curiosity will make you feel truly free. Living life, choosing paths purely based on curiosity and instinct is how the great explorers found all the wonderful places we visited after all. Imagine if Captain Cook didn’t follow curiosity and instead settled for a routine life?
Traveling The World Alone is Lonely
I’m not going to lie to you and say traveling the world is always incredible. Because some days truly suck and they can feel so much worse when you are alone.
But feeling lonely is Ok. In fact, it’s more than Ok it brings your feet back down to earth and it’ll help you truly resonate with how far you have come. What’s important is that you let yourself feel lonely. Feel all the feels associated but move past it and push on with your journey.
I’ve felt loneliness a lot while traveling, sometimes it comes in waves and others it’s just a moment. I get past this by being extremely close to my best friend back home. I’ll talk to her about all my feels and although i know she desperately wants me home, she keeps me going. I engage with other people around me and I throw myself into things I love; like nature and adrenaline activities.
Loneliness is a fleeting feeling, it will pass. Traveling the world is a journey and journeys always have bumps in the road. No one has ever experienced an ‘easy’ journey because that just wouldn’t be as appealing, right?
But You’ll Surprise Yourself…
Sitting on the chair he was checking my harness and binding my ankles together. Making sure all was secure he helped me up, reassured me as I walked to the edge. This was the walk (or waddle) I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Standing on the edge they counted down and dropped rope, I was supposed to jump. Jump 134 metres. He squeezed my arm in reassurance one last time and on one I jumped.
Bungy Jumping was genuinely an activity I swore I would never do. It wasn’t the fear of heights that bothered me but the fall, the act of jumping terrified me and honestly to this day i still can’t believe I did it.
I surprised myself that day and woah I was on a high for DAYS after that!
But you’ll surprise yourself by more than just scary activities. You’ll surprise yourself on how you handle difficult situations, language barriers, the unfamiliar and so much more. I grew to love myself a little more every time I surprised myself.
You’ll Be Selfish, but that’s Ok
Selfishness is often a world used in a negative way. I mean, you don’t appreciate someone calling you selfish it’s not meant to be a positive word. But why can’t it be?
Traveling the world alone is essentially selfish. The definition of selfishness is “concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”. That’s what we are doing right?
But it’s not bad to be selfish when traveling the world.
Traveling alone the decisions you make are only directly affecting you (hopefully), you are seeking personal pleasure through fulfilment of curiosity and that’s awesome. Traveling the world grows you and that is so important. It’s hopefully opening your eyes, engaging you in new cultures and experiences, trying new things and truly finding out and loving who you are.
So if all that makes me selfish, I’ll take that as a compliment.
Traveling The World Makes You Appreciate ‘Home’
I left Scotland with the mindset that I would never be coming back. Ever since I was younger I would tell myself that I wouldn’t be living in the UK, that I would be living in either New Zealand or Canada. Or, if I won the lottery, in the jungle with wild animals working to save them.
Really, anywhere except where I came from appealed to me.
I didn’t expect it to be a year later and the concept of going home is actually becoming exciting; traveling the world has fully made me appreciate what I left behind.
While I don’t necessarily miss the place, the people make the place. Being on the other side of the world has truly made me appreciate those people. I’ve come to realise that I really am not ready just yet to leave them all.
But above all, from living in New Zealand this last year and talking to people who only dream about visiting Scotland or Europe. I fully appreciate just how good I had it. They made me homesick for my home, embarrassed at how little I had actually explored my home country when I return I vow to explore it more.
I mean I’ve explore New Zealand in such depth and I’m essentially living here, why would I not now do it to Scotland to when I return?
Are complicated. And easy at the same time.
Making friends when you’re traveling the world alone is easy. Everyone is out to meet people, no one really wants to be alone. It might be pretty scary and take some practice but soon entering a room and knowing no one, introducing yourself and sparking conversation becomes second nature. It’s highly unlikely that people are not going to respond to you.
I mean, I walked up to someone I thought was my friend on the lake front the other day. Said Hey how’s it going and we had a 3 minute conversation before I realised this was not the person I was meeting. And that was by accident!
Strangers really aren’t scary, No one wants to be alone and so when you want friends you’ll find them. The hardest part of traveling alone is saying goodbye to the wonderful people you meet along the way.
One of my friends said to me ‘aren’t you used to goodbyes by now’ after I told him I was sad to see one of my friends go. Goodbyes are hard regardless how long or little you have known someone.
But i now have friends all over the world, which gives me an incredible excuse to visit someplace new!
Traveling The World Alone Makes You Brave
This statement pissed me off so much when I began to tell people I was going off to travel the world alone. Mainly because of the numbers of comments about a girl traveling alone. The sexism around travel, is unbelievable and just infuriated me I couldn’t even entertain the conversation.
While traveling the world people I met or overheard my conversations would pop in the brave word. I still didn’t really understand, it wasn’t considered brave to travel to another unfamiliar city in your own country, but out with that it was brave?
It took me a long time to take this as a compliment. That for the majority, people didn’t mean it as a bad thing. Taking off and traveling the world inspires people. You are doing something which others may not ever get to do or have the courage to do.
Please know that you are brave, because you’re inspiring.
You will challenge yourself every single day while you travel the world.
Traveling the world you will come across situations which will challenge what you believed, knew and loved. Just as you ‘surprise yourself’ by doing things you never thought you would achieve you will challenge your beliefs.
From traveling the world alone I’ve challenged myself a lot. I’ve overcome some of my fears, amended my beliefs, attitudes on cultures and how i perceive the world.
When you challenge yourself you also change yourself. There is so much about me now which is different to the me that I left behind. This is not a sad thing, this is growth through personal development and I’ve come to love the person I am.
You’ll discover so much about who you really are when you challenge yourself. Push your boundaries and test your limits. You’ll find the limits you had weren’t actually limits at all. You’ll have more knowledge, more inner strength and a confidence about who you are. It’s an incredible feeling.
So wha are you waiting for?
Get traveling the world, grow who you are and watch it bring out the person you really are. It’s beautiful.
I could say right now that I know what the next year is going to bring me (because I have a lot planned) but really, I don’t and I’m so excited to see more of my life grow.
So I’ll leave you with this quote from one of my favourite movies.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild