Why You Should Travel the World Solo

Traveling means different things to different people. For me, traveling is about learning by putting myself in situations I wouldn’t normally find myself in.

Traveling for seven months last year was no exception to this. I learnt how to buy, ride, fix, and crash a motorbike in Vietnam. I learnt how to Scuba dive ten floors below the surface of sea. I learnt that to discover yourself you need to spend a lot of time with yourself. I learnt that I could trek to Everest Base Camp and back. I learnt that the world isn’t the wild west everyone makes it out to be.

I believe traveling solo is the best way to learn more about yourself and the world around you. These are some of the most common questions people have asked me when I tell them I like to travel solo.

A Tibetan girl clutches onto her new rice cakes that were affectionately appropriated from me moments earlier.

“Don’t you get lonely?”

When I tell people I like to travel alone this is the most common question I get. My answer is always the same: “No — almost never. You see, when you travel alone, you’re never really alone”.

Every year, thousands upon thousands of people make the decision to travel on their own. You’re never alone. There are always people to meet in hostels or while doing activities you enjoy. Just say hello. You’re in exactly the same situation as them so you always have at least one thing in common.

Remember: You’re never really alone.

“What if I don’t click with them?”

Like in life, you’re never going to click and build a relationship with everyone you meet. It’s OK. Don’t worry about it. Wish them a nice day and move on. There are plenty more people to meet out there!

Remember: It’s okay not to click with everyone.

Morning light in the grounds of Borobudur Temple, Indonesia.
“What if I get sick? Who will look after me?”

I never said it would be easy. There’s no question about it: getting sick while traveling sucks.

I got food poisoning while trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. I started to feel terrible at Tengboche, a small monastary village at 3,876m above sea level. If you’ve ever had food poisioning you’ll know it’s never fun. Now imagine it at altitude — I’ll spare you the details.

Thankfully Gangase, my guide, was fantastic. We stayed at the most comfortable tea house in the area and took it slowly the next day. I’m known to be a fast walker so I suspect Gangase appreciated the rest! By the second day, I was back to normal and ready to increase the pace again.

Sometimes you’ll be with people who you can trust to help you, sometimes you won’t. The best thing you can do as a solo traveler is ask for help from the people around you, but you always have to be prepared to look after yourself.

Remember: You should be prepared to care for yourself when sick.

Taken at the Kawah Ijen in East Java, Indonesia. It is famous for its electric-blue flame caused by ignited sulphuric gas. As you trek up to the crater you pass miners carrying up to 90kg of sulfur in baskets on their back. You need to wear a gas mask in the crater floor as the clouds of sulphuric gas make breathing very difficult!
“Is it safe?”

I’ve never felt safer than in places like South East Asia, China and Nepal. Just use common sense as you would do at home. Don’t get blackout drunk or walk home through a shady neighbourhood by yourself at night.

The island of Koh Tao in Thailand has had a spate of high-profile tourist deaths in recent years. While the media portrays Thailand as “the most dangerous tourist destination in the world”, over twenty-six million tourists visit every year with no problems, with more than 100,000 heading to Koh Tao itself. I spent weeks on the island diving and exploring and I never once felt unsafe. Don’t believe everything you read — find out for yourself.

Usually the most dangerous thing about tourist destinations is the tourists themselves — it’s no surprise that the number-one killer of tourists in Thailand is road accidents.

Remember: As you would at home, use common sense when it comes to safety.

Traveling solo is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It’s empowering. You’ll meet new friends from all over the world. You’re free to follow your own schedule. Want to wake up at 5am to explore a new place? Go for it — nobody is going to tell you otherwise. What have you got to lose?

Saying goodbye to another day on Koh Tao.

Lunch spot with Ama Dablam (6,812m) in Nepal.
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