Do you often feel stuck? Find yourself questioning the 9-5 routine you are in and the deeper meaning behind it? When was the last time you unplugged and truly treated yourself? When was the last time you were completely free? When did you have the whole day to focus on your needs, thoughts and desires?
Sometimes it all feels too overwhelming, right? There has to be something more, you say. There has to be a way to feel alive again. The good news is that there is, and everyone can experience it. It’s solo travel (for at least three months), and all it takes is a little bit of courage…
I just had this strong feeling that in my lifetime I don’t wanna live small and just accept the existence that I’ve been given… this like, real hunger to actually go and experience something different… it’s like this revelation of whole different ways of being.
– Ella, 34, traveled one year
I took the leap a few years ago and went backpacking in South America for nine months. I learnt so much from that experience, and this is exactly what I would like to share with you. Hopefully this will inspire you to do the same and finally embark on that journey you have always been dreaming about. Long-term travel is so much more than an adventure. It’s an opportunity to grow personally and apply these learnings to all areas of your daily life.
Why Solo Travel Is a Fast Track to Personal Development
No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life, chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.
– Maya Mendoza
Traveling solo teaches you…
1. How to be brave
Besides the adrenaline-pumping activities you are bound to engage with, traveling solo in itself requires a significant degree of bravery and courage. You are out there alone and you have to get through things. Climbing back into bed and sleeping the problem away is not an option. When you overcome a challenge, you know you did it alone. This realization is extremely empowering.
Fear is part of the package… It’s really hard work and letting go of stuff and taking big risks and jumping into the unknown completely. But if you’re willing to accept the fear and like, kind of, ride it out, then that leads to just, an amazing sense of accomplishment. And excitement and exhilaration and feeling alive… it is not just exciting in itself but a lesson you can carry with you forever then. And that’s how I always want to live my life now.
– Ella, 34, traveled one year
2. How to embrace uncertainty and go with the flow
Things will go wrong. The bus might break down, you may lose your passport or get food poisoning that one time you splurged and ate at a fancy restaurant. But you are still exploring an amazing destination and there’s no time to be miserable. You accept things, look for solutions and try to make the most out of it. What if we could apply this approach to our everyday lives? How much more relaxed and happy would we be?
3. Self- awareness and reflection
You finally have the time and quietness to go inward. Emotions that you have been suppressing will inevitably come up. These feelings and our consequent behaviors can bring to our attention everything that has been holding us back. We have been trying to keep these emotions at bay for a while and its not going to be easy. But it’s incredibly worth it. Stay quiet; dive deeper and you will hear your inner voice.
4. What authenticity feels like
You are just a backpacker from said country going north or south. No one knows your past. No one knows what car you own, how “picture perfect” your relationship looks on Instagram or how prestigious your job is. There is this anonymity, and at the same time this unparalleled feeling of equality. It’s freedom in all its essence, and you have the room to be exactly who you are. No expectations. No pressure.
You’re like a blank space, nobody expects anything from you and you can start from scratch… there are no expectations, there are no people who know you. It’s like you are reduced to this… the core, to your own essence, to what you just are. You realize that you’ve gotten out of touch with yourself and yeah, that’s what scared me too. I thought, like, who am I? And am I just functioning? Am I just what other people want me to be?
– Harry, 32, traveled 3 months
5. What really matters in life
Our values and perspectives change while traveling. Money and status seem to loose their hold. Love, connection and gratitude take center stage. We start evaluating our decisions and life path back home. Are our decisions made according to free will or under the conditioning of society? Traveling, I believe, makes us redefine success as intrinsic will.
6. How to be present
Answering that email within 20 seconds does not matter. Making sure all notifications have been read does not matter. Our surroundings are so beautiful that we have no need to distract ourselves… from ourselves. Everything is new and we are absorbing it all: scenery, smells, architecture, languages and experiences. Take a step back. What would happen if we applied this back home? How much richer would our lives be?
7. The value of connection
You are alone. You are looking for a friendly gaze, a fun conversation, or even to make friends with a local. When you get what you are seeking you immediately feel elevated, like something has changed inside of you. It’s not just you trying to overcome the loneliness, it’s the fact that we are hardwired for connection. These micro-moments of connection actually boost happiness and wellbeing. When traveling, these effects are more apparent than ever. This is why we are here… to love and connect.
8. The skill of communication
Remember a great conversation you had with a local who didn’t even speak your language well? What made it great? And how did you communicate so flawlessly, without even needing the words? You were present, curious and you made an effort. How would our everyday encounters change if we approached them all this way? I challenge you: turn off your phone today and give someone your full presence — it’s the best gift you can give.
It’s just a huge sense of energy. It’s a connecting back to being real, to being true to yourself… everything becomes so vibrant… before, when you’re retracing the same steps day in day out, you lose that sense… you’re just doing things automatically instead of consciously. Everything comes to life — the smells and the colors and the language. And what that does to yourself inside is just incredible… things start sparking. I just felt completely exhilarated and fulfilled… and happy… it just feels very real.
– Henry, 29, traveled 6 months
What have you learnt from traveling solo? Please share in the comments section below!