Whenever I look back on the days I was out there, far from home, experiencing the world, the memories that stand out in my mind are never the ones I made in travel spots.
Sure, I had fun taking groupies with my friends at the summits of Tanay, Rizal, but when you compare this experience to that time I was lost in Infanta, Quezon asking the locals where I could buy tickets for the ferry, my heart would always flutter at the thought of the latter.
This being said, I love traveling in general. Whether you have company or you’re all by yourself, the mere idea of escaping the daily grind in the city in pursuit of thrills with nature gives me a sense of satisfaction. But if I had the choice, I would always go for solo travel. And here’s why.
1. You’re free as a bird.
You make your own rules. No one is there to negotiate with whenever you have to make logistical decisions. You decide when to eat, what to eat, when to drink, what time to sleep and wake up. You don’t have to get everything planned beforehand; you can just go and do as your heart desires. There’s no agenda to be followed. You don’t adjust for anyone but yourself, and you can do whatever you want.
2. You learn to step out of your comfort zone.
There’s always a challenge that comes with going into the unknown. For most of us, life has always been spent inside our comfort bubble. You have your family to run to in times of need. Your friends are one call away when you wanna vent out about your job. But when you’re out there, miles away from home, alone, you have no one but yourself. And this can test you in different ways.
Traveling is half-parts vacation and half-parts adventure. In the latter part, you will face a variety of problems along the way, such as being lost and running out of resources. If you’re an introvert, you might reach the point wherein you must set aside your fears of socialization to survive. Now as you cross these obstacles, you become more resourceful, sometimes by force. You learn to face problems independently and work on your decision-making skills.
3. You get to know yourself more.
If you’ve been residing in the same place for a long period of time, you’re possibly expected to act and behave in certain ways. Your thoughts and actions are driven by these expectations. When you disconnect from these expectations by going to a foreign place, you become exposed to new cultures, new people, new ways of life. Immersing yourself in this new environment will open you up to new perspectives and possibilities, which then, could make you question some beliefs you’ve held onto before.
4. You become more appreciative of time.
Travel is not a permanent experience. You know it ends, no matter how previous the experience feels to you. You wish you could sit on the shore admiring the sunset forever, but inside of you, there’s a lingering sadness due to the reality that you must come back to your boring daily grind after all this. But that feeling, that awareness of the fact that this doesn’t last eternally, that’s what makes it special. That’s what drives you to make the most out of the moment, savor the time you have with that magnificent view on the horizon.
5. You become stronger.
Once you’ve crossed oceans, climbed mountains, and overcome insurmountable obstacles along the way without crying to someone’s shoulder, your past problems just somehow don’t seem as big to you now. You’ll cringe at the thought of how you overreacted to life’s petty problems, and when you have to deal with them again, they turn out to be not worth the drama. You’ll be surprised by how you’ve become more confident, decisive, and just better at living.
It’s not for everyone.
While this list is supposed to encourage you to give it a shot, I know that not everyone is capable of solo travel. I’ve known some people who tried and regretted it as soon as they got back home, as they couldn’t handle the loneliness and the uncomfortable unfamiliarity of traveling solo.
For me, though, and for many people, it’s the scariest and most liberating thing we’ve ever done.
Plus, life is short. If you haven’t tried it, you have all the quarantine days to gather up all the courage and do some planning. I’m planning to explore a bit of south Visayas after the lockdown. See you there?
Have you tried solo traveling?