What You Might Not Know About Solo Travel Will Make You Feel Better
The lessons I learned from my first 96 days on the road.
Traveling alone is a beautiful thing. Yet, often misunderstood.
Friends and family won’t understand why. Why would you want to go see a different part of the world on your own?
“Who will you share the memories with later on?” they’ll ask.
The first cross-country road trip I journeyed by my lonesome was two years ago, in May of 2015. This not only was my first adventure alone but the longest time I had ever been away from family and friends.
I was scared as hell. I didn’t know what to pack. I didn’t know who I would meet. Or what to expect. I left home with only a casual list of places I’d like to see in the West.
Little did I know this would be the most life-changing four weeks of my life.
It may be hard to describe your experiences to your friends and family when you return home. That’s what pictures and videos can do for you!
What they’ll never be able to relate to is everything else that happened to you. While you were gone figuring out your soul. It’s hard to accept that there’s no one to share your memories with. But once you do, it’s quite romantic.
My advice for first-time solo travelers.
You will feel lonely.
Picture this. The sun is setting over the Grand Canyon. It’s as serene as anything you’ve ever seen. Your surroundings are calm. There are dozens of people around you, but everyone is sharing the moment with their loved ones.
You see couples, families, and groups of friends. They’re laughing, sharing a bottle of wine, resting on each other’s shoulders. You will wish you brought a travel companion along.
In the end, it’s the sense of overwhelming pride that keeps you going when you start to feel lonely. It can be emotional to overcome. Especially at first.
I struggled with the feeling of loneliness the entire 7,300-mile journey. You’ll never fully overcome it.
Look at it as a positive lesson from the road. Then, next time, you might not take your time with loved ones for granted.
The positives outweigh the negatives.
The bright sides of traveling alone trump the bright sides of having someone by your side. Period.
Use the time alone as moments of reflection. You will never learn more about yourself.
Use that 14-mile solo hike in Rocky Mountain National Park as a time to reconnect with yourself. Trust me, when you’re finally sitting atop the peak, the last thing you will want to see is another human being.
Or when you’re so intensely in your thoughts with the car radio blasting your favorite band. Even though you planned to stop and set up camp at dusk. The freedom takes you over. Driving aimlessly into the night. Reveling until the wee hours of the next morning.
Imagine if someone had come with you. Most likely, you’d follow the original plan. You would have stopped at dusk. And missed one of the most enlightening nights of your life.
Since you are alone and playing by your own rules, you decide to dig out your sleeping bag. You fall asleep on the top of your car to the sweet singing of crickets in the Montana forests. Under gobs of stars in the night sky.
It’s easier to make acquaintances.
I will let you in on this little secret: individuals are much easier to approach than groups. Or even two people, for that matter.
For you, the lone traveler, this means meeting people will be a lot simpler. More often than not, people will feel sympathy for the lone traveler. They want you to share their moment. And, so, they’ll approach you.
Little do they know you love the aloneness.
I once hiked to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in Utah with a couple of strangers. I asked them why they invited me to join them. They said because of the simple fact that I “looked like I could use hiking buddies”.
You will not believe the types of people you will meet and it is one of the greater benefits of traveling alone.
Words cannot express how much I vouch for lone travel. It is frightening to set forth and do it for the first time, but the reward is so much larger than the risk.
You will figure out things about yourself that you can’t imagine. You’ll meet people you never would have if traveling with others. And you’ll be able to follow your heart, wholly, with whatever decision there is to make.
It may not be for everyone, but everyone should at least give it a try once. Travel alone. You won’t be disappointed.
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