“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain
Travelling alone comes with its fair share of difficulties.
To begin with, you have to:
- Plan everything by yourself.
- Stay safe (no one watching your back).
- Carry everything.
- Be the sole camera person (selfie stick problems).
Hitting the road by yourself also takes a lot of confidence and belief that you can navigate the big wide world on your own. Nothing can be more frightening, but nothing more exhilarating.
There is no one to tell you what to do, when to do it and how far you can go. The world is quite literally your oyster and you may wander, explore and get lost until your heart is content.
Get lost and you will find yourself
But there is one skill that you need when travelling alone. This skill does not come naturally to most. Even I had to develop this skill in the unforgiving heat and craziness of Thailand. Skyping home to my parents after a week, with no hope of continuing my journey. An emotionally and physically drained version of myself, bordering on the state of depression. How did I get to this point? I felt alone.
Being comfortable with loneliness is the number one skill you need to travel alone. It’s painfully unnatural and something us humans struggle with. We are social beings and crave interaction. But learning to deal with this and even enjoy it, is the key to staying happy on the road.
It is not easy. Being alone does not require you to absent of people around you, in fact, you can quite easily be in a room, hostel, beach etc. full of locals and travelers like yourself. But your still alone? How is this possible?
Sometimes the interactions you feel on the road are not meaningful. They are not the same as catching up with a loved one or going out drinking with your best buddies. It can feel empty and forced.
This is, however, not always the way. Many of the interactions on your travels will bring you happiness beyond measure. A change of perspective on the world and an insight into the lives of those that live and travel throughout destinations that you once only knew from a news channel, documentary or shape on a map.
Enjoy the loneliness
Once you become comfortable with the loneliness, you can suddenly begin to enjoy it. Not because you feel empty and starved of meaningful interaction, but because you finally enjoy your own company and the thought that there are many deeply perspective changing people out there that you may find in the next cafe, bar or train station. The next time you step into a hotel or a hostel you could meet that one person who makes you feel alive or even stays with you for the rest of your life.
Stop thinking of loneliness on the road as a weakness but as a strength. It is simply a moment to treasure as you welcome new and exciting experiences into your life. Forcing yourself to be alone can welcome something new into your life. Embrace it.
Get out there and crush your fears
If you have ever considered travelling alone then I highly recommend you get out of your comfort zone and do it. Stop thinking about those far-off destinations as future dreams. Jump on a plane and make those dreams a reality. Nothing is going to change in your life until you get out there and make it happen for yourself. You don’t need anyone with you to experience life at its fullest. Invite loneliness into your travels and let the unpredictable buzz of life change you forever.