What I Learned from Traveling Solo
“The world is just too big to have to wait around for someone to go with you every time you want to go on an adventure.”
– Monica Houghton (Forbes Magazine)
Anyone who knows me, knows I love to travel. I always have. Domestic travel, I love it! International travel, I love it! And I’m sure if moon travel was readily available, I’d love it too!
So after bravely chunking my corporate job the deeeeeep deuces (in a very non-dramatic fashion (definitely a missed opportunity there), I set out to travel for 1 full-year as a promise to Chameka and a promise to myself to heal. The idea of an almost nomadic life was perfect. And the intention behind the idea was even better. I was going to see the world and nothing was going to stop me. EXCEPT . . .
I totally failed to consider one minor (very very important) detail . . . “who in the hell was I going to travel the world with?” Uh, yeah definitely didn’t think that one through.
So it was at that moment I decided that if I reeeeeeeally wanted to see the world, I would have to travel by myself. There was just one more small (yet major) wrench to my nomadic plan . . . I was scared as hell to leave the country by myself. Ugh!
For my first trip, I took and deep breath, whipped out my credit card and booked a ticket to Iceland. I was headed to Iceland by myself. Holy shit! Ice-land! I was so proud of what I had just done that I immediately hit the hotline to let my friends know. And in turn, they were so proud of me that they let their friends know. And soon, I was joined on my “solo” trip to Iceland by friends and friends of friends (who have now become my friends.) So, no solo trip. Which was totally fine and secretly to my relief.
Next I traveled to Hawaii with a preschool bestie, then I bounced around Southeast Asia for a few weeks with friends, then France with my family and etc, etc. But still I had yet to experience a “solo” trip. I needed to do this. I felt it in my bones. I was determined to still set out on my own.
Enter Fiji and New Caledonia
My solo trip airline ticket purchase came about in a zombie-like sleepy 6 am haze. And thanks to an email informing me of a ridiculously low mistake airfare to Fiji, I purchased my ticket then rolled back over to continue my slumber. The solo travel plan was simple: travel solo for a total of 23 days. I would spend some time in California (Newport Beach and Los Angeles), then head to Fiji for a week, fly to New Caledonia (where French is only spoken) for another week, then back to Fiji and return back to the states.
So off into the world I went as a newbie solo traveler. Below are a few examples of what I learned from traveling solo.
I Interacted More
Instead of primarily
clinging to for dear life interacting with my group, I branched out. I became more social. I actually took the time to strike up conversations with strangers around me. Everyone was prey to my new and untapped chattiness. Passengers on the plane, folks in airport lounges, hotel staff, people I was on tours with, taxi drivers. Everyone. No one (and I mean no one) was safe from this friendly conversation. And from that slight adjustment, I met some of the most kind and interesting people. I ask, have you met a Christafarian before?
I Was In Control
From beginning to end, I made my own choices. No more patiently/impatiently waiting on others to agree on a destination then desperately waiting for them to spend the money and book their trip. No longer needed was a group consensus for basically everything on a trip. Questions like, “what time are “we” eating breakfast?” and, “what activities are “we” doing?” and, “what hotel are “we” staying in?” were completely eliminated. I was in total control of myself and my money and it felt damn good!
I Became More Alert
By nature, I’m pretty alert. My head is constantly on the swivel in a state that lays somewhere between curiosity and staying woke. But I must admit at times, that my alertness can become slightly relaxed when traveling with friends (ie “group think”). When I traveled solo, I was more alert than when I traveled with friends. Why? Because I had to totally rely on myself. I couldn’t just ask a friend. So I paid better attention to announcements and all directions given. I read and understood local street signs better. And I surveyed and took in more of my surroundings. Because of my heightened state, at times, I felt more safe than on some previous group trips.
I Set the Pace
By traveling solo, I was able to choose where and when I wanted to spend my time. I could stay somewhere as long as I wanted because I never felt rushed. If I wanted to walk around, explore and take pictures for 2 hours, I did it. If I wanted to lay around by the pool and do absolutely nothing, I did it too. By traveling solo, my pace was not affecting the group, because there was no group. It was just me and I was free to do me.
I Smiled A Lot
And on the flip side, I cried a lot. Not just tears of sadness but often tears of immense happiness, warmth and entering my body from every hug and interaction I experienced from strangers I met along the way.
I Got to Know Myself Better
Strange, because I’m like 40. One would think they know themselves well by this age. But I’m here to tell you, school is never out for the pro. There’s still a lot to learn and know about yourself at any age. We are constantly growing, changing and being shaped and moulded by life and its events. Traveling solo made me more self-aware of my likes, dislikes, fears and happiness.
I Experienced Levels of Unparalleled Kindness
Traveling solo taught me that despite all the bad that is happening in the world today (and there’s a lot), there are still deep pockets of love just waiting for you to dig in. I mean, I already knew that, I just needed a gentle reminder. By letting my guard down just a little bit, I formed new friendships with the most amazing human beings. Who in turn, showed me some of the most amazing things when they opened their hearts and homes to me. And because of their kindness, I will forever be changed and I will forever be thankful.
I Became More Confident
This by far was my most important gain. I believed in myself more. I literally traveled to the other side of the world, to a country that spoke virtually no English, with limited cell phone and wifi reception and not only survived but came back a stronger person. Not only did I own my fear of traveling out of the country solo, I doubled-down and reclaimed my audacious spirit. I had done brave shit before but traveling solo reignited a spark and made me excited to tackle the world.
Final Thoughts: Would I Recommend Taking a Solo Trip
Absolutely! Hell Yes! Without a doubt! Whether you are currently growing or healing in your life, solo travel can be good for the soul. No more waiting on someone to go somewhere you’ve never been. Next time you are thinking about booking a trip, just do it. And consider doing it solo because untapped freedom and vividly amazing travel memories are waiting for you.
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading “What I Learned From Traveling Solo”.
Feel free to leave comments below with any questions or share your own experience (I’d love to hear). Or just to say “hi”, I don’t bite (as long as I’m properly fed).
And if you found value in what I shared, share it with a friend, save it, or pin it. I greatly appreciate the love and as always, sharing is caring.
-XOXO (as always)
Photography & Editing by: Yours Truly, Melissa Drake
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