Travelling alone can be the best thing for you...
"I want to travel, but I'm scared of doing it on my own"
I must have said that sentence several times before I actually gained the courage to go and book my flight to begin my first solo travelling adventure to Australia last year.
It is the most daunting aspect of travel for so many people; something I did not realise until I began my extensive online search for articles, blogs, even wise old sayings to reassure myself that travelling alone is not as bad as I was allowing myself to believe. Over countless hours, and hundreds of mouse clicks later, I still couldn't accept the fact that travelling alone will be alright. It's just part of the human psyche to worry about the fact because as individuals, our lives are enshrouded within a society we are familiar with, a city that we know our way around in, and with friends and family surrounding us from the day we are born. Knowing that I would be leaving the "familiar" and entering the "unfamiliar", alone, was just too overpowering and delayed my wanting to book that flight. Then, I stumbled across a saying that really struck home for me, and it was;
"There is nobody holding us back except ourselves"
It's true. Just as we can be our own worst enemy, each one of us is the only thing that blocks us from wanting to move forward. It was then I decided to go and book my flight for June 26th 2013; a date which will stick in memory for life as it was my first lonely step into the world.
Travelling alone is like opening your eyes to the world for the first time. When you land and arrive in uncharted territory, it forces you to become this different person from the get go. You're on your own so you have to make your own way to your accommodation. You have decipher the best way to get there. You have to interact with several strangers all before you even get to your room. Straight from the start we are thrown from our comfort zone and it is the best thing for each and every one of us. Now granted, it is not something that can be tolerated by everybody. I know people who ventured to Australia and left after 3 weeks, yet alone someone who left after 4 days;all because it was too much for them, and in truth, they missed home. I will not judge anybody who falls into this scenario because travelling alone is hard, and indeed, it will decipher whether you as a travelling individual, can indeed take on the world. It's no easy conclusion to come across. For me, it was a month into my trip that I knew I could do this. I had made some friends, I had the accommodation, I had the job...it was all coming together. Yes those initial few days were tough, but I threw myself into it and pretty soon, you are no longer travelling alone, and you have made a life for yourself; whatever shape or form that may be. It is something that you can reflect on and know that even in a new country, new culture and society rules; you can do this.
It gives you a sense of strength that you didn't think you had. Additionally, it reveals new aspects of yourself. When I left Melbourne after working there for 3 months, I set off ready to travel all around the coast of Australia, as well as through the red centre. Now for me, I wanted to drive it all. That has been my dream for travelling Australia; the bus just wasn't an option I wanted to take. So initially it was your usual rent-a-car trip; with the hostels, the views, meeting people, having the craic basically. It was 3 weeks into my journey that it took a change. I had finished the east coast and wanted to head towards Alice Springs, up to Darwin and down the west coast. So I found a share ride and with an additional passenger in the car, the 3 of us set off. Now I already knew that we would be camping, so that wasn't a surprise, but I had never been camping before; so already I was trying something new. I won't go through each and every aspect, but throughout the weeks that followed, I found myself sleeping in a tent on the side of the road in the middle of the desert. We had a thunderstorm one night, and as we slept in the field, I honestly thought it was going to be a flash flood and we were basically going to drown! I slept in the car in 40 degree heat. I slept on the beach and then on the tar-mac. One of the nights we pulled into a caravan park un-noticed and in our attempt to flee the next morning before the owners arose, I found myself speeding out of the place before the owners, who had been up and about, could get in a car to stop us.
Now, why I tell you some of this is to illustrate the fact that I never would have slept in a car, yet alone on the side of the road; but it just seemed normal to me when doing so. I didn't moan, or complain about the conditions. I just accepted what was, and it made me realise that I can do this; even when it involves two other people whom I had only met and I was in the middle of the desert. Would I have been so wiling had I have gone with friends? Hell no! We would have only accepted hostels, beds...the expectant luxuries when travelling. By going alone, I met up with others who had no problem just basically "getting by" as best and cheap they could; and I found myself being one of those people. I would never have imagined I could have been someone like that.
It will also force you out of your shell. Now, this part of travelling doesn't apply to everyone, but for me, I was a very shy individual. I struggled to
even talk to new people. I hated meeting new people, and when at parties, I did not mind sticking to my own mates and just blending in with the furniture. However, now I am a completely different person. I have no problem igniting a conversation with someone because when alone, you have to!! Yes, you can remain alone and just keep to your phone and your contacts back home, but if that's the case, you might as well just be back home. By travelling alone you are forced to meet others and interact. It's a process that not only helps you break out of your shell, but it opens your eyes to new backgrounds, new personalities, new cultures...new friends. I walk around with a greater pride in myself because I am no longer afraid of someone approaching to speak to me. I actually welcome meeting new people now, and it's the best way in life to be.
By travelling alone you are allowing yourself to be who you want to be. It will inspire you to try new things. It force you to adapt to rough and new environments. It will encourage you to speak to the different types of people in the world. It will help you develop as an individual.
Don't be afraid of taking that first lonely step....if anything, I encourage it!