I was born with the “travelling bug” and I was lucky enough to have parents who always pushed me to explore. I started travelling alone partly out of necessity and partly out of choice, being involved in associations for the protection of French cultural heritage and working all around the world whether as a bricklayer, au pair, and even as a part-time teacher in Japan. Every experience was a perfect opportunity for me to travel!
Then came the time for the classic holiday. However, apart from the odd weekend with friends, it was difficult to find people who wanted the same kind of experiences as me. So, I kept travelling on my own, until I had an epiphany: to make a profession of my experiences around the world.
Want to travel on your own? Here is what to expect
Travelling alone is very much a cultural issue. There are countries where it is considered normal, others where women have only recently begun to free themselves from social conditioning and others where it is still taboo. In my opinion, while it can sometimes feel a little lonely, it’s a real opportunity to find yourself and create new memories, no matter what your age.
According to a study by MMgy Global, one of the major tourism services and communication companies, one in four people have travelled alone at least once in the last pre-pandemic year. Also, as Newsweek reports, in the last decade, solo female travellers have increased by 70 per cent.
Not convinced, yet? Here are my ten best reasons to help you decide.
It’ll help you go beyond your limits and fears
The journey, in its purest essence of “going”, is an initiation into life, an accelerator of existence, a chance to leave behind past experiences that have now become outdated. It opens up new opportunities for growth, meetings, and awareness. In this type of journey you put yourself directly in the spotlight, you are confronted with your own limits and then you discover your own strengths. A way to find your inner-self and the energy that will help you face some extreme emotions along the way which may include fear, joy, sadness, hatred and love.
It’s a way to develop intuition and trust in others
When travelling alone, you leave your comfort zone and move into the “unknown” (which may have the effect of scaring or even breaking you). Travelling pushes your boundaries and puts you in unusual situations. It sometimes means opening up to others and trusting them. Nothing could be more complex in a world that has taught us selfishness and encourages mistrust in order to survive. Yet, over many years of travelling abroad, I’ve personally found that more are people willing to help and support me, rather than trying to hinder me.
A chance to listen to your needs
Whether you’re in a retreat doing yoga or meditation, gazing into nature or watching a sunset, it’s important to unplug and be alone. It’s a great opportunity for you to regenerate. Travelling alone can help us explore the innermost part of ourselves and can teach us to know ourselves better. It’s a chance to ask ourselves how we are, listening intensely to our body, our physical and mental needs and acting on them accordingly. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to build and improve relationships with others.
An opportunity to discover different perspectives
Travelling alone doesn’t mean you can escape your problems. However, a change of scenery can help clear your mind. You can eventually return to the same issues but travelling will help you change your perspective, allowing you to see things differently and may result in a different outcome.
A way to find new friends
It seems a little contradictory to travel alone and yet meet many people, but it’s true! When you travel on your own, you tend to be more open to others and develop a natural inclination for socialising. During my solo travels, I’ve met people who have remained my friends ever since. It’s simply amazing just how many interesting individuals you can meet during your travels, you have to experience this for yourself!
…and to choose the holiday of your dreams
The freedom to go where you want, when you want, and have the kind of vacation you want is priceless. We are constantly busy, with frantic work patterns, always ready to compromise but taking a moment just for ourselves from time to time, even if only for a long weekend is absolutely essential.
It gives you the freedom to organize your day
Need a long rest? Want to float in a pool all day, or do you fancy getting up at dawn to run or walk on the beach? Dreaming of going on adventurous hikes and trying the suspension bridge? Or would you simply prefer waiting three hours for the right light to take a photo on the Great Wall of China? Well, you can do it.
You’ll have to learn to rely on yourself
The only person you can count on is yourself. Don’t blame others. From the choice of hotels and airfare, to travel planning; it’s all down to you, the good and the bad! I’ve personally found this to be a great lesson in life and personal empowerment.
You’ll find out more about yourself
There are always good and bad sides to everyone. It’s so important to be aware of them and to get to know these sides better and more sincerely. Travelling will give you this opportunity.
The locals have a lot to offer
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important points when travelling alone. You’ll never get to know locals the same way when travelling with someone else. The exciting things of travelling alone for me are spending hours with Google translator on a train talking to locals, spending five days alone with a guide and concierge in the Himalayas, learning Nepalese and teaching French. But also, meeting a Mexican family whose daughter has decided to come to study in Europe, picking her up at the airport for the first time, seeing her arrive looking like a lost chick, and then gaining more confidence week by week.
All of the above is not likely to happen while sitting in a plane next to a handsome man who then becomes your husband (for those of you who are looking for this). And realistically, you’re not really going to have an epiphany like the film “Eat, Pray, Love”.
What you’ll have is something much better: it’s reality, it’s you. It is being delayed in an airport and listening to the exciting stories of the people you will meet, it is taking a swim in the ocean during a sunset. It’s feeling your emotions to the fullest and removing all the background noise of life.