For me, travelling solo is not just a preference. It’s a purpose in and of itself. As I discover the world alone, I am able to expand in ways which are not possible when bounded to the company of others. No matter what your beliefs, there are some ways in which solo travel will change you that combined travel just cannot.
I went through a lot of personal struggles to do with relationships, self-confidence, and general confusion about where to take my life. Solo travelling has helped me a lot to let go of negative experiences and be a purposeful individual. Here I’ve described the main ways in which solo travelling has facilitated my healing.
Like most of us, I would put myself down all the time without realizing it and this would hinder my ability to do things. I would excessively compare myself with others and in turn this would make me feel useless. Over the past couple of years, I’ve slowly come out of the shackles of self-doubt and am learning to trust myself more instead of succumbing to negative self-talk.
When you are travelling alone to unknown places, you have absolutely no one to rely on but yourself. Over time, you learn that you have to make your own decisions and bear the consequences of them. Because you’re so far from your ordinary bubble, there are a lot of situations where you simply cannot take the aid of others (near or far). This makes you resilient as fuck.
Travelling alone exposes you to a wide variety of people and lifestyles. When you are alone, it’s much easier to interact with all these people and properly involve yourself in new experiences. With others, you may skip out on those enlightening conversations, spontaneous detours, or solo ventures. When you allow yourself to expand like this, you gain self-confidence and give less importance to people who actually don’t mean anything.
When you’re alone, you’re spending more time listening to yourself than the conscious or unconscious noise of someone else. It’s forces you to turn yourself inwards and puts you in better touch with your intuition. Because we are so used to having others to talk to in all situations, we actually lose that fundamental connection with our own voice. By going through new experiences alone, you learn to connect with your inner being.
Releasing worry about the future
After I finished college, I decided to take a year off to travel before getting a job. At the time, I was perplexed because I had so many options and none of them felt exactly right. After a year or so, I joined a research company that paid me way above average and looked like my dream on paper. But after two months, I realized I was totally unfulfilled and I quit to continue travelling.
Having travelled for so long already, I was already more connected to my inner feelings about things. All I knew that was, when I was on the road, I was a happier and freer person. I could explore my intrinsic interests in life without enslaving myself to the ideas of someone else, no matter how much they paid me. Solo travelling really dissolved all those fears about what would happen if I let go of my prior ideas and follow my calling.
When you’re travelling alone, you also have the freedom to explore many different things and this expands your horizon. When you interact with other nomads, you see there is lot more to a job than sitting at a desk. It breaks down your preconceived ideas about what you should be doing and what society is telling you is normal.
So after 2.5 years of mostly solo travel, I have completely released my concerns about what I will be doing in ten years. I live for the now and not for societial recommendations. This doesn’t mean you give up on planning and achieving things in life. It means you have the courage to walk the path that is calling you through your inner feelings, even if that path is not actually travelling.
Healing my relationship with myself
Self-acceptance is one of those things that sounds simple but sometimes it really isn’t. In some way or the other, a lot of our internal struggles are due to a lack of self-love and self-acceptance. I had a fairly troubled adolescence and so from the start, I found it hard to accept who I was. Over the years I evolved through multiple personalities, but I never accepted who I had been before.
Solo travelling allowed me to integrate those various parts of my being by giving me to space to be my most natural self. Solo travelling involves a lot of spontaneity, and so when you are continuously kicked out of your comfort zone, you evolve in ways that bring you closer to a true expression of your being. It helps you heal inner conflicts and let go of past regrets.
After two years, I now give much less of shit about what others think of me. People’s negativity affects me less and I don’t take it to heart as much as I did. This is because I’m more sure within myself, and I’m more comfortable in my own space. I can talk to myself openly and have a sensible discussion with myself. I know myself better and I’ve figured out what works for me and what doesn’t.
Travelling alone has helped me resolve major feelings of loneliness and lack of belonging. As someone who was raised in multiple places with no genuine group of friends, it was hard for me to feel like I belonged somewhere. By connecting with myself, I have found a home inside my self regardless of external circumstances. It has taught me my own best friend and support myself when things go wrong.
Recovering from multiple heartbreaks
When I took off to Cambodia and Vietnam in February 2016 in my first long-term solo expedition within South East Asia, I was still getting over a guy with whom I had developed an unhealthy emotional dependency towards. He had shamelessly led me on for months until I was helpless, before revealing he had been in love with someone else and just wanted to use me. He also slept with other people on multiple occasions and refused to pay me back over $1000. I was terribly broken at having been treated this way and I knew that travelling alone would help me recover from it.
And that couldn’t have been further from the truth. When you’re stuck in one paradigm it’s really hard to envision anything different. But when you are continuously absorbing new and fascinating experiences it drastically changes your state of mind. It changes your focus from all the problems in your life to the beautiful things that you can’t help but lose yourself in. As I met with tons of amazing people, I automatically started letting go of the past. It became clearer and clearer in my mind that I had just blown this guy up due to emotions. Your mind can’t dwell on what makes you unhappy when you’re constantly feeding it with the opposite energy.
Aside from this, I have been screwed over by multiple people (most of them in India), who have led me on or used me only to let me go after a certain period of time like I was their emotional and physical carpet. People have turned out to be fake, to be manipulative, and downright mean. In part this was due to my own naivety but more than anything it was just pure bad luck bumping into people who were fucked up for a variety of reasons.
Solo travelling helped me to get out of this destructive loop by building up my confidence in myself and opening me to better things in life. It opens you to love and better energies; because you won’t know what is dark, if you have never seen what is light. As my own energy level changed, I started attracting different kinds of people in my life and this led me to someone who was the opposite in all ways, to all the c*nts who had previously destroyed me.
Standing up for myself
We all have difficulty standing up for ourselves sometimes. Maybe it’s that friend convincing you to do things you don’t feel like, or jealous acquaintances who subtly put you down and make you feel bad. A lot of the time we give into the desires of others so that we don’t let them down. We supress our internal voice so that we can act on things we think we should be doing, or have to do.
Solo travelling rips you out of those stupid beliefs and changes your perspective about what’s important. When you are travelling alone, you have a lot of people to choose from and so naturally can’t waste your time on people who are not on your wavelength. Being around people who more closely resonate who you are gives you a strong sense of self-assurance. This means that you are less likely to give into influences that don’t vibe with you.
The fact that you have to rely on own voice also carries forward into normal life. For example, I used to party a lot. Every time I would go the city, I would feel a compulsive need to go out and meet everyone even if they didn’t actually care about me. I’d get wasted multiple times in a row just because I was there for a short time and paid no attention to my diet. But it wasn’t good for me. When I really needed to rest, I would end up meeting people or exerting myself.
Being constantly on the move has narrowed my friendship circle to a drastic extent. I spend less time with people who bring me down, and less time with others in general because I am more focused on things that I actually need to do. I have no time or energy for fake friendships or activities that make me uncomfortable. So yes, even if there’s an amazing party and someone has the best E, I will still refuse if I don’t feel like it. I simply do not care about giving into others at the expense of myself.