When I lived in Europe for about a year back in 2013-2014, I remember thinking to myself that I was going to play it safe whatever I did and where ever I went as I was scared enough as it was.
Everything was unfamiliar as I was living in Spain and barely spoke any Spanish to begin with. I was faced with a situation where I had to make what I considered a really scary decision after a few months of moving. My sister was going to be visiting Ireland with her current boyfriend at the time and she asked me if I wanted to see her in London as she would be there for a couple of days. The first thought in my mind was knowing who would go with me when I travelled all the way from Alicante, Spain to one of the biggest cities in Europe. Well, I couldn’t find anyone so I plucked up the courage to go by myself. Of course I was very petrified at the beginning and probably until I was back on my doorstep in Southern Spain for those few days I was there but am I ever glad I did it. Since then, I’ve travelled solo more than with travel companions. Here are the reasons why I keep doing it.
Travel your own way. I love deciding what I want to do when I get up in the morning. You don’t have to consult with anyone to decide with them on what you both agree on. You’re the pilot.
Independence. Being dependant on others is a great thing because you have someone you can rely on when you need it. But independence allows you to rely on yourself which I’ve learned a lot from by travelling solo. I think these situations are really important because you’ll figure out obstacles along the way and you can say, ‘Hey! I did that all on my own!’.
Make new friends. Every time I have travelled solo, I’ve made friends who I still stay in touch with. When in London, I met a couple of guys from Florence at my hostel whom I still stay in touch with. When in Valencia, I met 3 girls from the U.S. where we did excursions together around the city. On my last solo trip with Contiki Tours, I started talking with a girl on our motorcoach from California who is going to be travelling with me to Iceland this October.
Try new things. I never thought I would end up taking a subway by myself. Where I come from in Nova Scotia, there is no public transport system, traffic lights, large crowds, etc. When in London I ended up taking the subway as cabs were very expensive and I asked myself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? I get off on the wrong stop and have to go back?’. There were many single travellers such as locals and tourists on the subway in the same situation as me. If it weren’t bearable I suppose there wouldn’t be an underground system to begin with.
Learn about yourself. The most I’ve learned so far about travelling solo is that I am capable of overcoming fears more than letting fears control me. I’ve had many fears like most human beings and will continue to have many more to come. But taking on one fear at a time – there’s nothing better than feeling liberated when you overcome your fear. I will continue to try and do new things when I travel where I’ll learn about different people, cultures, places, etc. and how I react to my surroundings.
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