5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Take a Solo TripNovember 6, 2017
As evidenced by the previous blogs in this series, my trip to Bali was one of the most profound, life-changing experiences I’ve had thus far. And yes, while I was drawn to Bali and it will always have a special place in my heart, what really made the trip so significant and allowed me to have the life-changing experience I did was the fact that I took this trip alone. It was just me, myself, and I. Now I know what you’re thinking: Simone, have you ever seen the movie Taken?!? With the world we live in today many people would be scared to do this, especially young women. But, the truth is, if we are smart about it and aware of our surroundings, we shouldn’t let fear deter us from one of the most remarkable opportunities for personal growth that life has to offer. So, if you’re willing to have an open mind, put your fears aside, and experience the journey of a lifetime, read below to see my top five reasons why everyone should embark on a solo trip.
The Benefits of Taking a Solo Trip:
- Connecting with yourself in a deep way.
In our society we are rarely alone. Many times this is by choice, but part of it is just the fabric of the society we live in. When was the last time you saw someone sitting alone in public and just enjoying themselves, rather than defensively scrolling through their phones? When was the last time YOU did that? To some, spending an hour alone seems daunting, so if that’s the case then taking an entire trip alone might sound like torment. If you fall into this category, I invite you to reflect on why. Where is this fear stemming from? Sometimes we fear being alone because we are scared of our own thoughts. Sometimes the thing we fear the most is the very thing we need. Think about it, the best way to get to know a friend is to spend some one-on-one quality time with him or her. Well, the same applies to getting to know yourself. You might laugh and say of course I know myself! But do you really? Have you ever been truthfully vulnerable with yourself? When we spend uninterrupted extended time alone (and alone doesn’t have to be in complete solitude) we allow thoughts to surface that we might not have even realized were being suppressed. This can take many forms: A hope, a dream, a fear, or even an experience from our past that has negatively impacted us in a way much larger than we lead on. This is what happened for me. I set the intention to get to know myself more intimately, and to heal. I was surprised by some of the things that came up that I then had the opportunity to work through and release. Yes, don’t get me wrong, sometimes eating alone felt uncomfortable and I was embarrassed, or longing for my boyfriend to be with me. But then I remembered there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Yes, I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely, because I was spending quality time with myself and truly enjoying it.
- Connecting with others
When we travel with people we know, we tend to still be in our comfort zones despite being in a foreign location. As a result, we are less inclined to connect with strangers, travelers, or indigenous people. By not connecting with the people of the land, we miss out greatly. However, when alone, you’re more inclined to strike up a conversation and get to know someone new. This was an integral part of my experience in Bali. I befriended a local taxi driver named Iketut and he then taught me about Bali from a completely different perspective. I got to experience the country and connect with its people in a much deeper, non-touristy way. He took me to his village where I made baskets that were used as an offering to the gods, and I got to eat a home-cooked, traditional Indonesian meal. Had I been traveling with others, I most likely would have missed out on the opportunity to connect in this authentic way. Instead, I would’ve been focused on using the time to strengthen the relationships with those I was with, which is also beautiful, but would not have allowed me to really connect with the land and it’s people in a meaningful and memorable way.
Here is a reflection from my journal in August, 2014 when I had this unforgettable experience:
My new friend, Iketut Ada, has been driving me all over Bali the past few weeks showing me what life is really like here. Everywhere you go you see people placing baskets filled with flowers and incense as an offering, which I now know is called Canang Sari, or “thanksgiving offering.” I really wanted to learn more about this sacred experience so today Iketut invited me to his village to eat his food, spend time with his family, and make my own basket as an offering. This was by far the best day I’ve had in Bali! To truly be immersed in the culture and spend time getting to know these amazing individuals was such a gift!
- Connecting with the land
There’s something to be said about exploring a foreign land on your own. When you’re alone you have the opportunity to be more observant of your surroundings, because you’re not always in conversation with someone else. Each location has its own remarkable energy that we can all tap into and feel, if we take the time away from socializing and really immerse ourselves in the experience.
- Disconnecting from our normal, everyday lives
When we travel alone, we have a rare opportunity to completely disconnect from everything and everyone that is a part of our normal, everyday lives. Part of this disconnection might not be by choice if you’re in a foreign country with spotty Wi-Fi, but even if you’re not, I encourage you to pretend that you are. Our devices can very easily turn what was intended to be a solo trip into a collective trip. But this defeats the whole purpose. It can feel weird and wrong to be alone and as a result we often immediately reached for a phone to text or browse social media. When traveling alone, there is a lot of downtime, which we often equate with boredom since we live in a multitasking, go-go-go society. But, I encourage you to refrain from doing so, and to use this opportunity to people-watch, journal, or chat with a stranger. You will definitely not get the most out of your solo trip if you’re constantly posting on Instagram or FaceTiming your family. Now, that’s not to say you need to become a hermit and fall off the face of the Earth, but maybe only use your phone at the beginning or end of each day. Disconnecting really allows you to maximize the YOU time that you set out to have.
- Be selfish
Traveling alone gives us an opportunity to be selfish. We can put ourselves first and do what we want, when we want, without having to compromise or take anyone else’s wants or needs into consideration. This is such a beautiful gift and it’s for this reason that a solo trip really is the ultimate form of much needed self-care.
How to Make the Most of Solo-Travel:
- Be open, be curious, and don’t have expectations. Disappointment occurs when there is a gap between expectations and reality, so the less expectations we have the less opportunity there is for disappointment.
- Leave unscheduled time. So often when we are traveling to a new place, we jam-pack our schedules to ensure we are making the most of our time. However, sometimes some of the most magical moments happen spontaneously when we don’t plan. So, I urge you to go more with the flow on your solo trip, and to leave ample unscheduled time to explore, be alone, and just see.
- Start small. If the thought of taking a whole trip alone seems scary, then I encourage you to start with something smaller. Perhaps, take a day trip alone and see how it goes.
- Bring a journal. Alone time provides us with an opportunity for introspection and reflection. Even if you are not a person who journals (trust me, I wasn’t either), you’ll definitely want to have one with you to record your experience and how you’re feeling. You want to be totally caught up in the moment, so having a written record of your memorable experiences to refer back to later will allow you to witness just how transformative the experience was after the fact.