For years I have been booking a plane ticket on a whim. When something goes wrong, I go left. And wherever that left takes me is wherever I end up. But with the pandemic closing borders across the world, solo travel is no longer my form of escape. It is now more important than ever to stay in one place – whether it is your choice or not. And over these past six months I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I miss most about solo travel. Because in more ways than one, it has changed who I am today.
Solo travel is an ongoing conversation with yourself
When people ask me if I get lonely as a solo traveller, I never quite know what to say. The short answer is no, but the long answer means so much more than that. The truth is, solo travel leads you down a slippery slope of getting to know yourself better than ever. At first, it is scary. There is no one to give you their opinion or help make decisions with you.
But then, something magic happens. You stop relying on other people’s opinions and start trusting your own. You realise how much more you can get out of each day when you just trust your gut. And it goes much further than your solo adventure. When you get home, you start making decisions for yourself. You make fewer compromises. You take charge of each day and you take charge of your life.
Meeting people who open my mind
Nothing groundbreaking ever happens in your comfort zone. Before I began travelling the world solo, I spent my entire life in a small town. Growing up I had a very sheltered view of the world and my place in it. Travel changed that. But it wasn’t the places I’ve seen that altered my view of the world – it was the people I met. Meeting people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries has totally reshaped my world view. These people have opened my mind and my heart.
Being alone but never lonely
Solo travel has taught me how to enjoy being alone. But being alone while on an adventure and being alone stuck in quarantine are two very different concepts. The truth is, I love my alone time. Solo travel has made me realise that. But there is something to be said for being busy, keeping the adventurous spirit alive and not knowing what will happen next. Loneliness occurs when your mind wanders to make sense of things. But when you travel solo, your mind is constantly occupied, excited and invigorated.
The feeling that the world is your oyster
When I travel alone, I feel like the world is my oyster. Every day feels like an opportunity – to discover, to learn, to grow. Without having that ongoing sense of discovery, the feeling that anything is possible is more difficult to attain. For me, writing on my blog and on other platforms has really helped keep me feeling like I can still accomplish anything.
If there is one thing I miss most about solo travel, it is my independence. I have learned to only rely on myself for my decisions, which has fallen by the wayside a little this year. My inability to get home to Australia during the pandemic has been the most challenging situation I have found myself in. All of a sudden going home feels close to impossible. I mostly miss feeling like I have the independence to exist on my own, but I’m slowly coming to terms with leaning into relying on other people to get by.
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