Have you ever been somewhere where you find yourself looking around and feeling an overwhelming sense of insignificance? I don’t mean insignificant in a negative way, just that all of a sudden you are overtaken by the immensity of the world around you, how many incredible and beautiful things and places there are to see and experience, and you find yourself standing there realizing that you’re such a small part of that world.
I had that feeling while walking back to my hotel from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I was maybe 100 yards from the front door of the hotel at the top of a hill and stopped for a minute to take it all in and I was completely engulfed in the immense beauty that was all around me. So much happened for me in that very short moment, it was overwhelming and powerful and I’m not quite sure how to explain it just yet. I do know that it reminded me how important this type of travel is at this point in my life when I’m still trying to find myself and my place in this world.
I haven’t done any solo travel in quite some time, I quickly remembered why I love it so much on my trip to Finland and Iceland. Don’t get me wrong, traveling with friends and family is so much fun, it’s great being able to share new experiences and the beauty and adventure of a new place with loved ones but traveling solo gives you so many opportunities that you don’t always have when traveling with a group.
Here are my reasons for why solo travel is so important and why everyone should do it at least once in their life!
1. You’ll meet amazing people
You’re a lot less likely to talk to new people if you’re already with someone or a group. In Iceland I met an amazing woman from Australia on the way to the Blue Lagoon, we ended up chatting and spending the day together and our conversations were the highlight of my day!
If I wasn’t traveling solo I never would have talked to her! It can be hard to approach people but that’s what it’s all about, stepping out of your comfort zone and conquering your fears!
2. It’s scary and empowering
Solo travel can be
scary terrifying. What if I get lost? What if I’m bored? I’ll have to eat at restaurants alone.
Everything that scares us is only an opportunity to be empowered.
It’s not just with solo travel, it’s with everything, think about anything in your life that has required you to overcome a fear, for me I always think of it like the training wheels coming off. At first you might be terrified, looking at the bike with only 2 wheels, how is it going to stay upright? But then your mom or dad lets go and you are riding it by yourself and you can’t help but feel incredibly proud. If you don’t just go for it you’ll never be able to overcome your fears.
“Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you something great will come of it” – We Bought a Zoo
3. There is an overwhelming feeling of absolute freedom
You can expand your travel plans whenever you want or be as spontaneous as you want. You will meet amazing people and be able to bungee jump off the bridge or take a train 6 hours south to see that amazing beach without having to explain yourself or worry about upsetting anyone else’s plans!
4. And you can be completely selfish
Build an itinerary that includes everything that you want to see, or don’t build an itinerary and play it by ear. Either way you don’t have to deal with the added stress that comes with traveling with others. The only priorities you need to worry about are your own!
5. You’ll probably fall in love
When you’re traveling solo you are going to meet so many amazing people and see so many incredible places that you will most likely fall in love. Whether it’s with someone or somewhere, it is likely that you will come back in love.
6. You can leave everything behind
Including yourself. You have the opportunity to recreate yourself, leave behind the stress of school, work or just life in general and take the time to find yourself.
With solo travel there are countless challenges that could arise over the course of your travels and a lot of them will require you to step out of your comfort zone or overcome fears.With this you’ll be given a whole new sense of what you can accomplish, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore parts of your personality that you are less familiar with.
Unplug, don’t overthink and just be a sponge. Absorb every ounce of your solo travel, everything from the moment the paralyzing fear of sitting in a restaurant for dinner alone to the empowerment of striking up a conversation with a complete stranger who is also doing a bit of solo travel. Allow yourself to grow and change, really truly figure out who you are and who you want to be.