If you have watched Liz’s journey of self-discovery through Eat Pray Love, novel or movie, chances are that there is a tiny piece of you yearning to do the same. But something is always holding you back – mostly fear, and the thought of being on your own in a foreign land voluntarily sounds ludicrous.
But let me tell you – I have done it, and travel has never been the same again. Solo travel is always a great adventure, and can turn out to be dangerously addictive.
Here are eight reasons why every girl should get a taste of solo travel, even if it is at least once.
1. It’s Empowering AF.
Other than motherhood (I suppose), nothing can make you feel more powerful than being on your own and it is amazing. With no one else to plan your itinerary, no one to get you out of a bad situation, and no one to rely on when you get lost, you will be surprised by your own resourcefulness and discover a part of yourself that you would never have known. During solo travel, you will discover problem-solving abilities that would never have nurtured from a management trainee program and nothing can compare to the sweet aftertaste of knowing that you are really that self-sufficient.
2. Your Imagination Will Soar.
Growing up, most of us lose the imagination and creativity we had as children. Ironically, we hide deeper in our shells as we grow older and our world becomes smaller. Travelling solo is an opportunity to step out of that shell and re-discover the outside world with an open mind while seeing new sights, smelling new scents and meeting new people.
3. It heals.
No matter whether it’s a breakup, or facing a loss, or going on a sabbatical in between jobs to recharge your soul, or you simply just want to get away from life in general (because living in Singapore is especially stressful!), a solo trip would be therapeutic. It is an opportunity to leave everything behind, even if it is just temporary. And perhaps, even for the first time, you will have no expectations to live up to – you can simply go anywhere you want, at your own pace.
4. It Opens Your Eyes.
Sure, it might not be the first time you have travelled. But by yourself, your senses will go into overdrive. You will see, smell, hear and taste better. Without any distractions, you can take in the sights better, and a whole new world opens up to you. Perhaps it’s the adrenaline, but you would attempt to explore off the beaten path and journey to places that you never would have done with another person.
5. You Truly Appreciate The Little Things.
The little things that may not seem much in your everyday life might become your lifeline in your travels.
When you feel ill and cannot find any pharmacies that are easily available, you will appreciate the city life that you have always complained about. When your loneliness beckons, you will appreciate your friends and family more. When you get stuck out there in the rain, you will realise how lucky you are to always have a roof over your head.
And after you have learnt not to take life’s simple pleasures for granted (every one of us living in the city is guilty as charged!), you will eventually evolve to become a better version of yourself.
6. You Will Meet New People.
Solo travel seems intimidating to many, but you will be amazed by the conversations you will start with other travellers and natives when you are by yourself. There will be encounters that you might never have if you are travelling in a group, and you will be surprised that there are strangers who will help you in any way they can. You will learn that kindness transcends all language and cultural barrier, and find your faith in humanity restored.
And who knows? You might even fall in love.
Of course, it also takes some judgement and quick decision-making to be able to protect yourself from those who are not that nice.
7. You Will Know Freedom.
Freedom sounds more of an idea than a feeling, but you might be able to really experience it in your journey of self-discovery. You become the master of your destiny, and this is not a situation you come across every day. You will learn that ‘getting lost’ is not something to fret about, and if anything, it’s more of an adventure. You control your time. You do not need to wait for everybody else.
Heck, you can choose to sleep in a Buddhist temple, or go on a hike through a village in the mountains on a whim – no one cares, but in a good way.
8. You Learn.
Despite my love for solo travel, I do not deny that there are also downsides to travelling alone. When something goes wrong, it could go really wrong and you have to face this adversity by yourself. You might tread on religious beliefs by accident and get shouted at in a language you do not understand, or find yourself scammed by a currency exchange peddler on the street (especially common in European cities), but it’s all part of the learning process. Most importantly, you learn a lot about cultures that you have never heard about – and it’s one heck of an experience.