Ladies: Travel Alone at Least Once in your Life!

I love to travel! I love the freedom; the sense of openness as I meet new people and collide with new cultures; sample new foods at any risk to my health; experience cities that buzz differently to my own and wander through nature that has evolved uniquely to the region I’m exploring. Oh — how I love to travel!

At 24 I decided to journey to Alaska which had always captured my imagination. She didn’t disappoint. The beauty is so extraordinary, so breathtaking and so magical. Alaska made my heart sing and no other place or experience in my early adulthood showed me to myself with as much beauty.

I already knew some of the challenges of travel. The missed connections, stolen passports and lost luggage. My Alaskan challenges were different though. They were challenges of the heart and soul. They were also completely unexpected and confronting in every way.

Alaska forced me to see I had a problem with alcohol. She opened my eyes to my self-destructive behaviours and beliefs and she asked me to go deep within to find the strength to travel a new path. Alaska set me on a path of many positive changes that now at age 43 I can attribute to this crazy time when I decided to just pop over to Alaska and take a look around!

My experience has shown the greatest gifts of solo travel are the opportunity to expand our idea of self and to capture in our hearts the beauty of our own humanity. Courage, resilience, joy, openness, connectedness, curiosity and a path to healing are the gifts that have been given to me through traveling alone.

Courage & Resilience

It was the absence of the opportunity to drink almost everyday — like I had been for the past 8 years — that opened me up to the possibility that I needed to stop this self-destructive habit. Each day I faced the reality of who I was against who I actually wanted to be. I was being given a glimpse of what life could be like without the self-hate. Being alone allowed me to see a side of myself I truly liked but had never glimpsed before. Alaska created a space for me to start trusting myself. This three months of backpacking culminated in an understanding of true courage and resilience; to face our dark and ugly ideas of ourselves and decide no more. To give ourselves the gift of life-long access to these essential life skills is something we can be truly grateful for.

Joy & Openness

Up until this trip I had never experienced such a deep and profound joy to be in the world. This was new to me and I found it addictive — I wanted more of these feelings, a lot more! I was experiencing for the first time a new version of myself. The world was showing me new possibilities for living that I had thought were not possible for me. The depth of my happiness and joy to be traveling and discovering a more authentic self was incredible. I was truly present for the first time. I was bruised, I was scared but I was also joy, I was alive, I was ready for more of this good life.

Connectedness & Curiosity

I found the people of Alaska to be as quirky and interesting as their reputation suggested. The love, care and genuine interest shown towards me was overwhelming and soothing to my soul. I felt close to others in a way I had never experienced. They were open, kind and a little odd — which I personally like in other people. It was magical, it was beautiful and it was an experience that set me on a course of personally being brave enough to try and be the same. Alaska — the landscape, the people, the culture — it opened up my curiosity for life beyond fear and self imposed restrictions.

A Path to Healing

It was not my intention to set out on a journey of self-discovery. I did not leave home in the hope of being saved from myself. I did not travel across the Pacific to be healed from my problem with alcohol. But Alaska did save me in ways that I am now eternally grateful for. As I slowly traversed the state, the openness and hope I felt growing day by day for my future was extraordinary. The grandeur of the Alaskan wilderness and the people of Alaska created so many magical moments. I changed or maybe it’s more accurate to say I opened up to life and in all the right ways. Those changes set up a lifetime of access to a part of me I know I can always rely on in times of fear, sorrow or major change. On my return home, I no longer had a drinking problem. I started a spiritual journey that endures to today. I read Buddhist texts. I started yoga. I ate organic foods.

For me the true beauty of travel is the internal journey that stirs within us; it’s at the heart of travel’s allure. Travel can be the inner and outer journey combined for experiencing love, connectedness and freedom.

I received so many gifts on this journey; enough to help me call on the experience every time since when I have needed to access joy, confidence and courage within.

A solo journey has the potential to expand us beyond our imagining. Once we have made it home and absorbed all the moments we collected along the way, we’ll thank life for being so beautiful — and we’ll go back out there and do it all again in any way that brings us that same experience.

Travel whenever you can, the learning and growing never stops!

Oceans of love,

Rachel

First published on Elephant Journal

Find more of me here