Here are 15 of the top things I’ve learned, and the reasons why I think Solo Travel is important:
1) It’s a fantastic way to gain self-confidence and build self-esteem. There is no one there to solve life’s little problems and, to our surprise, we find we are perfectly capable of dealing with them ourselves.
2) Freedom of movement. Feel like leaving Rome for Naples? In an hour? There’s no one to ask. The only hurdle is a plane/bus/plane ticket or rented car.
3) Solo travel allows the visitor to discover parts of themselves they never knew existed. It never ceases to amaze me how inner strength appears when needed, regardless of the situation.
4) Serious questions must be answered. What will make this a memorable trip? What do I want to see? To do? Where can I find food I like to eat? Do I like heritage sites? Will I go out of my way to see them?
Do we have the time or the inclination to ask these questions in our daily lives? If we do, can we act on the answers?
5) It allows time to think. Although there is no imposed moratorium on speech, hours, days or weeks without a full conversation are easily achieved. It’s liberating to not HAVE to talk.
6) So many would like to travel the world and never get a chance to. Why not fulfill a dream?
7) When given the chance, hidden talents rise to the surface. I had no idea I could survive two and a half months with a really small carry-on as my only luggage.
8) The importance of different types of communication becomes apparent. Seemingly innocuous things like: sharing food, nodding, pointing, a calculator, a smile, body language, even type of clothing, reveal themselves as very powerful.
9) The happiest people have almost no material possessions. I was in a small town, on the way to Cuzco, in the Peruvian Andes. Hostel rooms led to a huge balcony that overlooked back alleys with homes that, to a Westerner, were decrepit.
While the sun went behind the mountains and the evening chill set in, some men rolled out an old oil barrel and lit a fire in it. A few people brought out their musical instruments. The whole neighbourhood proceeded to dance around these flames, until late into the evening.
The laughter from people of all age groups was so genuine, spontaneous and unburdened, it reached inside me and twisted at my heart. And part of me was envious.
I’d never heard anything like it before. Nor have I heard it since. In terms of comparison, the closest I came was the belly laugh a baby made when happy.
10) All problems are far away, there’s no point in worrying about them. Out of sight. Out of mind.
11) Solo trips allow the chance to interact with the locals, to view different ways of preparing food, of viewing the world, of living and of working. This usually means an explosion of new ideas upon arriving home.
12) When I travel with people I’ve known for quite a while, I spend most of my time discussing events from our city/neighbourhood/lives together. Alone, I live in the moment. I enjoy the world around me.
13) Did you think alone meant lonely? No! It doesn’t. It’s easy to meet other travellers, if so inclined.
14) Research into where I want to go grants me an insight into other cultures/languages. Sometimes this leads to the learning of other languages.
15) The clincher? From the preparations to the execution, it’s a lot of fun!
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Monique Martel