To travel solo is to make your own decisions without accommodating or compromising to anyone else's preference or schedule. To travel solo is to be free of the influence of others, to be nobody but your true self. The first time I travelled solo was when I left for my work abroad placement in Korea. It was exhilarating to say goodbye to my comfort zone and everything that I loved. I hopped on a 14-hour flight without knowing a single soul at my destination.
Fortunately, I wasn't entirely alone because I was with the EPIK program and so I travelled with others for most of my trips. As a female, I was wary of travelling alone, but that changed after meeting a number of brave, inspiring solo travellers (including women) and actually doing it. I now recommend that everyone try travelling solo at least once.
I wasn't just addicted to travel—I had fallen in love with solo travel.
It started with a small trip to explore a park in my city. I felt excited to do it at the time, even though I'm terrible with directions and had a high probability of getting lost. Yet, I knew that I would be alright; I just had to keep calm and trust myself.
It was a huge accomplishment for me. As I hiked up to beautiful, breathtaking scenery, I knew that I had to do this more.
Months went by and I went on more solo trips. I craved showing up at the station and hopping onto the next available train to explore another city. I wasn't just addicted to travel—I had fallen in love with solo travel.
Although I love to create and share memories with good company, here's three ways solo travel changes you:
You feel a type of freedom like no other. You wake up at any time of the day, travel anywhere you want based on your interests, eat whatever you want whenever you want, rest at any time, or stay at a certain place at your own pace. If you're into photography and you want to take a ton of pictures of the same scenery, or you want to make videos and talk to your heart's content, nobody is going to rush you or judge you. The choice is yours.
Everyone is so busy caught-up with the workload and people in their life, they barely make time for themselves. Solo travel allows you to enjoy your own company and to be comfortable with your own thoughts; to take some time to reflect on who you truly are and learn more about yourself throughout your journey. You will make mistakes, learn major life lessons, go on unpredictable adventures, and realize that you are braver and more capable than you'd ever thought possible.
I believe that my burning desire to travel is my soul's longing to grow. Travelling solo is extremely challenging, but you will become more independent and develop so much as a person. Even if you are not comfortable doing so, know that you are never really alone. You will meet others along the way, whether it be locals or expats like yourself. You will be exposed to their cultures, lifestyles, and intriguing stories. You will learn to have faith in humanity, to trust strangers and ultimately, your own intuition.
You don't have to go far to consider it solo travel—what matters isn't the distance, but enjoying yourself and growing in the process.
Originally Published on Verge Magazine (October 8, 2016)