It’s that time of the year again. Winter has finally pissed off, the sun has reappeared and the glorious summer holidays are on their way. Let the holiday planning begin!
Travel is on the cards for many, yet solo travel is often overlooked in favour of travelling with friends. Having a rocking good holiday with yourself sounds like a big risk. But, risk big, win big, baby! I, for one, am a passionate supporter of Team Solo-Travel-Is-Awesome.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Instant Street Cred
This is more of an added bonus than a bona fide reason. Doing things to sound cool is, in fact, lame. But tell someone you just spend a solid amount of time travelling by yourself and you’ll just ooze self confidence and cool without even trying. They’ll think ‘Look at you, you self assured thing! Let’s hang out, all the time’.
Travel is all about the experiences and they’re not always pretty. But, face uncomfortable situations on your own and you’ll develop a skin thicker than the White Pages. After you’ve dealt with looking for a hostel in monsoonal rain with everything you own on your back, or losing your last pair of shoes on a Thai beach at 3.34am, and done so without completely flipping out or anybody holding your hand, your self confidence jumps approximately one gazillion points. Even more simply, you’ll become a seasoned pro at spending time in your own company and hopefully get to the point where you realise that you’re actually rather excellent.
Being alone in a foreign place can be downright terrifying. What would happen if you were attacked by a mob of angry monkeys? Who would come to save you by luring those bastards away with ripe bananas?! The fear is genuine at the beginning. It subsides when you fully realise the incredible place you’re in and, more importantly, that you can do whatever the hell you like. Nobody is going to stop you. Travelling with other people involves compromise and often we’re dragged into doing things that are a little bit shitty. Solo travelling means you can be gloriously selfish. See what you want, do what you want, eat want you want, without anybody else getting in the way!
The truth about travelling alone is that you won’t be alone at all. You will become the proverbial flame and many an exotic, travelling moth will bask in your fiery presence. Having no friends is an incentive to make new ones, so you’ll make an effort with your new moth pals. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing an alcoholic beverage or ten, shaking your tail feather on a dance floor and soon after, you’ll be solid BFFLs. The locals are also drawn to the much less intimating solo traveller. A random Vietnamese woman once asked me to have lunch with her family. However, considering I hadn’t properly showered in a while when I met her, she may have just thought I was homeless.
Finding out who your friends are
The word ‘friend’ is becoming increasingly devalued, especially considering some people have thousands of them on Facebook. When you’re away from home on your own, you’ll realise who your real friends are because they’re the ones you’ll actually miss. You’ll also have concrete evidence that someone is important if you’re willing to eat cheap street food at the risk of sudden, violent diarrhoea, just so you can spend a bit extra on the perfect souvenir for them.
Finding out who you are
So much of who we think we are is tied to the people in our lives and embedded within the place we live. In our every day lives, we assume multiple roles (Australian, Melbournian, Monash Universty student, General Bad Ass) and our identity becomes a merging of these. When you’re moving from place to place, on your own, the characters you ordinarily play fade away. The only constant is you, and yet you feel more vibrantly alive. It becomes glaringly apparent that who you really are goes far beyond what you do, where you live, or who your family and friends are.
What’s that I hear you say? Travelling alone sounds like a great idea? Correct! I expect a thank you letter and a tacky souvenir when you get back from having the time of your life.