8 Things Happen When You Are Travelling Solo
I was 24 years old the first time I travelled solo. I cannot explain really how it started or why I did it. Back then I never met anyone who had travelled solo, especially girls. I have always been quite independent and will go to movies alone, to have lunch alone, to just lie down in a park and read alone…so I wasn´t really afraid of the fact of “being alone”. So one day the company I worked for years ago, told me that for operational reasons (I was a flight attendant) I won´t work for a month, but will keep having all the benefits of the airline. So that was it, I went to Decathlon, bought a backpack, and decided to make a good use of those tickets and took a flight to what for me was the other side of the world, Australia. That was also the first time I travelled overseas and all my world changed.
1.I FOUND MYSELF
I write about this in the first place as for me is the most important one. When you travel solo, you start listening to yourself, you act how you want and do whatever you want. You learn to resolve problems on your own and to listen and trust your guts. You listen to your body and your mind and learn what is good and what is not good for you. Many times you recall memories from the past and realize why some people are gone, why some people came into your life, realize all your achievements, what you want in life, etc. You learn that you are perfect the way you are, with all your imperfections. You learn that you are trying your best and you also learn what you don´t like about yourself which is amazing as is never too late to change and be a better version of yourself.
2.MADE AMAZING FRIENDS
One of the things that I love the most when travelling solo, is the amount of people I met and all the friends I did all over the world. Hostels are a good place to meet people. City tours and international meetings as well. And apps like Couchsurfing are the best.
During my trips, I met and travelled for a while with people from all over the world. Some of these friendships were temporal and lasted the time the trip together lasted. Some are forever. Even if sometimes these friendships are temporal, I loved that I crossed paths with these people and shared the same path for a while. We laughed, we visited beautiful places, we shared the story of our lives.These memories will forever be in my heart.
3.LIVED INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES
When you travel solo, you become more open to everything and everybody. You learn to embrace what’s about to come without thinking too much about it. The adventures I have lived because I was travelling solo. I remember once I was sitting in the bar of my hostel in La Paz, Bolivia. I was having drinks with some guys I met and then another guy joined us. He told us he works for an NGO in Bolivia that takes care of rescued animals. They are in constant need of volunteers and told us if we would be interested. I didn´t have any specific plans so I decided to go. I spent 2 weeks in the middle of the Bolivian Amazon, living in a humble house of 3 walls, without electricity and a bathroom, taking care of a one eye blind puma named Luna, who was rescued from poachers when it was a baby. The experience was amazing. We were just 8 people, we showered and washed our clothes in the river. As we didn´t have electricity, night time we had dinner under the light of the candles under billions of stars. We could observe the Milky Way on it´s all immensity. And Luna, the puma I was designated to take care of, I loved her so much. She was adorable, so sweet and so cute. I would be 7 hours a day walking her around the virgin jungle, giving her food, petting her, playing with her. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
I have another hundred of stories to tell, like when I partied in a clandestine club in Prague or got arrested on the Pacific Island of Yap, for wearing shorts even if it was legal to walk topless on the street.
4.LEARNED THERE Are GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE
One thing people tell me every time I travel is to take care and not trust strangers. Even though I understand they are concerned about my safety, I always tell them there are good people everywhere. It doesn´t matter the country or the religion, I have met friendly, humble and helpful people everywhere I have been. Many times you ask a stranger for a direction and they invite you to hang out with his friends, or they take you to the place you are looking for, or give you tips about places to visit in the city. People are curious about people from other countries, especially if the cultural difference is huge. I will always remember when I travelled around India. Every time I will take a train to go to another city, the locals in my compartment will start asking me questions, offering me food, telling me stories, etc.
With this, I´m not saying to trust everybody. I´m saying that there are good people everywhere you will go.
5.HAD THE CRAZIEST PARTIES OF MY LIFE
I love to party! I have always been a party girl and one of the many things I like to do when travelling, is experiencing the nightlife of the place. That doesn´t mean that I go out every night, just that I will go out at least once. Going out you can also learn and experience the culture. I have danced all night African Rap in Nairobi, Pachanga and Reguetton in Lima, Bollywood songs in Mumbai, the latest house hit in a hidden club in La Paz. etc. Dancing with the locals and seeing them dance their music is an unbelievable experience. Many other times I have been in parties very popular among tourists, like the famous Full Moon Party in the paradisiac island of Ko Pha Ngan, in Thailand, or the crazy trance parties in Goa, India. Even if they were crowded with backpackers, still worth it to party there. In conclusion, any party you go, you will have fun, you will meet people, you will see a part of their culture and those nights will be in your memory forever. Trust me!
6.GOT MERGED INTO DIFFERENT CULTURES
One of the most important things for me when travelling is getting to know the culture of the place. Here is when I have always said that one thing is being a tourist and another thing is being a traveller. Tourists go to a place, take a picture and leave. They are not interested at all in talking with locals. For me this is so important as it opens your mind, it makes you realize that there are so many ways of living this life, it makes you think about what really is important in life and you learn to value what you have as you will meet so many people happy living just with basic stuff or even less.
This is the main reasons I use a lot Couchsurfing. It allows you to stay with locals (for free) and there is no better way to learn about culture´s and people´s life.
One of the best experiences I ever had with Couchsurfing was when I was hosted by a Palestinian family in the city of Beit Sahour. I got to know so much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and learned many things that the TV won´t show you.
One of the most incredible things about this is that when you go home, you realize how much you have changed, but is strange as, at the same time, everybody and everything remains the same. Each trip and each culture exchange you grow up and learn more about the world you live in and about yourself.
7.EXPERIENCED WHAT FREEDOM IS
Many people think they are free and they know what freedom is. But in reality, just some of us have experienced the real taste of freedom. That´s how I feel when travelling solo. I feel free, I feel freedom. I´m the only one deciding where to go, where to stay, how long. If I like a place I can choose to stay more, if I don´t like it I can choose to go. If I want I can change my plan as many times as I want and just get carried away. This is one of the best feelings in the world and to experience this, apart from travelling solo, you need to have time. I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of time on most of my trips and to experience what freedom really is. The only bad thing about this is that once you go back home you will most probably get depressed or lost for a while. Going back to your normal life where we are slaves of time and money, might be quite difficult, and that’s what happened when the travel bug has bitten you. There is no turning back.
8.YOU WILL LOOSE CONNECTION WITH YOUR OLD FRIENDS
Throughout all these years of travelling by myself, one thing I realized is, as I said before, that every time you go back home you can feel you have changed but everybody and everything remain the same as when you left. I realized that the more I travel the more I loose connection with my friends back home. Conversation turns boring as you will feel now you have many adventures and many cultural or political views you want to discuss but you won´t be able to do it with your friends as they will remain the same, with the same life, same worrying, same interests, etc.
While travelling solo you will meet so many people with whom you will stay up till late talking and sharing experiences, adventures and travel knowledge. You will love those talks and will be one of the things you will miss the more, apart from freedom, once you get back home.
The only way I have been able to fight this is to go to many Couchsurfing events or Language Exchange meetings in my hometown. Is not the same as travelling but believe me, it helps a lot.
To write about this was very special for me as, since the first time I started to travel, I have tried to transmit this passion to everybody I have met in my life. I think everybody should travel solo at least once in their life, but believe me, once you do it solo, your whole world would change and there won´t be a way back to your previous life. Do you dare to live?