In 2018, I backpacked alone through South East Asia for 3 months. I visited a number of different countries and experienced cultures far different than my own. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone massively and I returned home changed for the better.
Prior to leaving, I had heard about how utterly life-changing solo travel can be for the mind, body, and soul. Ultimately, I wanted to see for myself. Below are the lessons I learned about myself and life after spending time travelling alone.
At the very beginning, I remember feeling extremely lonely. I stepped off the plane feeling a bit scared, doubtful, and alone. Don’t worry this is natural and it will take time to feel comfortable in your loneliness. However, if you trust the process you will begin to learn to actually love being alone. You will find the beauty that comes with doing activities on your own. Use this time as a chance to get to know yourself better. We spend our whole lives surrounded by others, taking on others’ needs. How often do you get a moment to be with yourself? Check-in with yourself and ask yourself how you are doing!
Lessons Learned Backpacking Solo
Don’t Always Make Plans & Be Flexible
Prior to leaving, I created a rather detailed trip itinerary. I had planned which countries I wanted to visit and what I wanted to see. Looking back, I did this as a coping mechanism to help myself feel more comfortable out there in the big world alone. Within my first few weeks, I realized that there is so much beauty that comes from spontaneity. I ended up meeting people who would guide my path in a different direction. I ended up visiting cities that were never ‘on my list’ that absolutely changed my entire experience. Definitely be open to changing your plans and don’t go into solo travel with a set schedule.
At first, I tended to stay on my own. I wasn’t super interested in meeting people which was totally the wrong way of doing things. Hostels are extremely social places for accommodation. You will meet so many like-minded people your age on the same exact journey as you. It’s a good idea to make friends and find other travellers like you to explore with!
Looking back, I now have life-long friends all over the world thanks to travel. If I need a place to stay in Germany, Italy, England, Canada, you name it, I have a friend there. Be open to meeting new people. If you’re a girl, be open to meeting fellow females! Girls are the best in groups and you are also able to look out for each other.
You Can Trust Strangers
It is important not to be fearful of strangers. You can trust people as most are genuinely good. Don’t go into travelling solo thinking the worst of people. They are not there to scam you, steal from you, or hurt you. Trust strangers and be friendly and smart!
Trust Your Gut & Yourself
You will learn to trust your intuition more than any other time in your life. Listen to yourself and go with what your gut tells you. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, remove yourself. You will be utterly surprised how many times just listening to yourself can get you out of sticky situations.
Lessons Learned Backpacking Solo
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Unfortunately, as females, we have to be hyper-aware of what goes on around us. This is especially true if you are on your own. Always be aware of what is happening, do not allow yourself to lose cognitive control if you are alone. For example, do not go out drinking alone, make sure you choose to go with a group of friends. It is important to be smart and make smart choices when you’re alone.
It’s Okay To Eat Alone
Prior to leaving on my solo trip, I had never eaten alone at a restaurant before. Well… get used to this! It is actually super fun to eat by yourself. You have time to just sit with your own thoughts and observe what is happening around you. It can actually be really therapeutic!
Experiences Are More Important the Material Items
Before I left, I placed too much value on materialistic things. I cared about what designer handbag I owned, what car I drove, and my makeup routine. After I returned from my solo trip, I completely lost interest in caring about these things. I realized that experiences, and moments in life-related around exploration and travel had a far more significant meaning to me. I noticed how easy it was to trade in these materialistic items, for more noteworthy experiences.
You Will Learn To Love Yourself
In many ways, I was extremely insecure before I left and was feeling lost. I didn’t have confidence in myself, or who I was. When I got back from my solo trip, I learned how amazing I truly am. I learned that I was strong, capable, and beautiful inside and out. I had enough time to myself to really get to know the woman inside and I came home with so much self-love it was ridiculous.
You Will Return Changed For the Better
Fortunately, you will return changed for the better. Coming home to the family, friends, and lifestyle I had left behind was a little bit tricky. I felt as though I had changed so much, but everything else around me remained the same. This is typical after returning from a solo trip. You will come home so much more aware of your privilege and confidence in yourself
No matter what the change will be, it will be for the better!
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