Why you should travel solo at least once

Thursday, July 14, 2016

For a long time I only ever travelled with friends or family. Not that I didn't want a trip alone, it just always seemed more fun to have someone familiar around you to share all the experiences with. So many people I met along my travels were solo travellers and I began to wonder why anyone would want to tackle this big bad world alone? And then it was my turn...

My decision to travel solo for the first time came after I tried for months to convince my friends to take a trip to Thailand. No one seemed keen (weirdos) and so I bit the bullet and decided to go it alone. Waving goodbye to my boyfriend at the airport, I embarked on my solo female travel adventure! My excitement suddenly turned to nerves though; what if no one likes me? what if I don't like it there? what if I go missing! Looking back now I really wish I hadn't wasted the energy worrying about the what ifs that never eventuated.

Arriving in Bangkok, I was confronted with my first obstacle - navigating the airport by myself! Seems like a silly thing, but it was somewhat scary relying only on myself and no one else. But I made it to the pickup zone and was on my way to my hotel in no time. My super friendly taxi driver even guided me through the tangled sidestreets off Ko San Road to find my hostel (clearly seeing the blank stare I had on my face at the time).

My hostel was a somewhat dingy establishment with bored staff, but I quickly met up with a few of the people I had booked a tour with and settled in nicely. It was crazy to me how quickly we became a big family, and how strong the bonds between a few of us were. Big shout out to Doug, Anne-Marie, Rhian, Rebecca and all my other amazing travel companions :) I began to realise that by travelling alone it forced me to step out of my shell and meet new people and to make friends or be alone the whole time. It was a great feeling knowing people accepted me for me and I will value those friendships for a long time!

Of course you are going to meet people who dislike you for whatever reason. I heard down the grapevine that a few of my travel companions thought my Aussie accent was annoying... really guys? But truthfully, to those who chose not to be friendly (and you know who you are) my life is better off without you anyway and I kept on smiling through it all! So just remember that, for as many people you become friends with, there's bound to be the negative nancy's bringing you down. Remember it's your trip so just enjoy it and do the T-Swizzle and "shake it off".

The next 3 weeks with these crazy kids was a blur, partying, exploring and having an absolute blast. Saying goodbye was tough, but it was also exciting as I was now about to embark on the real solo section of my trip! I jetted off to Chiang Mai, casually caught a local taxi and even thanked the driver in Thai when we arrived at the hostel. It was crazy how relaxed I had become in such a short space of time. The local culture of being happy and taking things easy was really rubbing off on me! At my new hostel I made friends instantly with my British counterparts Lucy and Kate and we banded together to go exploring this awesome city, shop the markets dry and party the night away!

I then took off on my own adventure to Elephant Nature Park where I got to take time out to give back. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city I feed, washed, walked and played with the elephants all day long. It was one of those days where I didn't feel that I needed to share the experience with anyone, I just wanted to be there, be present and remember this one for myself. This was probably the best day of my life, and reaffirmed to me why solo travelling reinvigorates your soul - it gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, whether than be reading a book by the pool or taking "elphies"!

At the end of my whirlwind month in Thailand, I realised how much I had changed. I had really let go of the stress and planning and taken a go-with-the-flow approach. I found it so easy to make new friends but also enjoyed the time I had by myself to just absorb my environment and be with myself. In such a short space of time I had become more confident, more independent, learned so much about myself and my dreams and goals and had truly stepped outside my comfort zone!

The most important thing I took from travelling solo is that I was free to be me. No matter who I met along the way, where I went or what I brought back from it, I was doing what I truly wanted and that filled me with the most amazing sense of self that I have ever experienced!

So my advice to everyone out there, travel solo at least once in your life!

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