Solo Travel

As I am planning my next trip to Machu Picchu, I realized that I had not considered asking anyone to travel with me.  Ever since I started my solo travel a year ago, I kind of assume I will be traveling by myself.  No, I’m not saying that I will travel by myself for the rest of my life.  It’s just that there’s this certain, amazing, powerful feeling of traveling to another country by myself without knowing the language, without knowing a soul, and without any grounding or grasp of the terrain.  As with most unexpected things in life, such as my first solo trip to Turkey, the impromptu risk and adventure turned out to be the one of the best and most amazing experiences of my life!   The unexpected high that I felt completely blew my mind.  I wish I could use more eloquent words to describe my WanderLust but whatever words I use will be inadequate to describe the amazing high that I felt.  Somehow the trip turned out to be an epiphany, and I believe it allowed me to open up, ever so slightly, my third eye.

Many people would never consider doing something so bold as to travel alone, especially to a foreign country, and especially, if a single female.   But I believe everyone should try solo travel at least just once.  Why?  Because it’s something that most people fear.  The fear of being alone, I believe, is one of the biggest fears of many, myself included.  One’s fear might be so great that one stays in a bad relationship, for example, and cannot and will not ever risk being alone.  I know many who keep going from one bad relationship to another just so they will never be alone.  I know many women who are afraid of ever dining alone even.  So what exactly is it, this fear, that we are all so afraid of?  Hard to say.  Maybe we are all just insecure human beings that we think we need people around us all the time to make ourselves think that we are always loved, always needed, always whatever.  It’s like we need some kind of approval to make sure that we are okay.  It’s really a head game, I think.  So, to overcome our fears we need to face them.  Therefore, if you fear being alone, you should try BEING ALONE by traveling alone.  Although scary at first, it might just be the greatest experience you will ever have, and, it’s an opportunity to overcome your fear of being alone.  Allow me to share with you what you might experience…

At first you will most likely doubt yourself.  You will think inside your head such thoughts as, “Will others think I’m weird for traveling alone?”  Or, “Will I feel lonely?”  You will think, “What the hell am I doing?”  As well as, “WTF?”  And, of course, “How will I eat every meal by myself with no one to talk to?”  Finally, “Can I really be by myself for such a long time?”  And, again, “WTF?”  Well, I can assure you that these are normal thoughts.  But after you buy your airfare and start planning your trip, you will become excited, especially because it’s a whole new experience.  Then, the adventure begins…

On the day of your outbound flight you will be nervous and somewhat excited at the same time.  On the plane, you will have many insecure thoughts.  You might even think that this is all a mistake…a very expensive mistake!  If you’re lucky, you will have a plane mate that is pleasant for the duration of the long flight, especially if you’re on an international one.  When the plane lands, you will still have doubts.  You just landed on foreign soil and you might think, “OMG. WTF!  Now what?”  Then, after you get your luggage and you are transported to your hotel, the real adventure begins.  You realize the landscape is completely different than what you have seen your whole life.  The trees and buildings are different, more beautiful, really, and it will feel like you have been seeing life with only one eye open.  I like to describe to some people, especially the ones who have never traveled, that it’s as if you have observed life only in black and white and in 2-D, and then, on foreign soil your eyes are suddenly seeing in full color, in 3-D, with the most beautiful, vivid colors you have never seen before!  However, the immediate high you feel might be deflated upon your realization that you cannot understand the language of the people of your travel destination.  You will be frustrated with another dose of doubt, for sure.  Then, after you check in, unpack, and freshen up you are off to see the new land.  The new scenery will be intoxicating, especially after the jet lag wears off.  Because you’re not on autopilot any more your senses are heightened, I believe, and it seems like you’re experiencing life for the first time, as you did when you were a child.  But then, you will get lost in the streets and become frustrated…again.  After you get your bearings you are, once again, mesmerized by the new beauty you see.  Then, the food!  Your taste buds will experience new deliciousness and you will be SO happy!  You might not love everything but the fact that you tried something new, again, will be rewarding.  You will wonder why you can’t get whatever you’re having back in the U.S., and you will surely miss or crave it when you return home.  When the bill comes, you might feel insecure again because you might have to convert the currency into dollars.  Another peak experience might be if you strike up a conversation with a local and they give you tips about places, restaurants, and things to do that your travel guidebooks didn’t mention.  After sightseeing and experiencing sensory overload, it is the end of your first day and you are completely exhausted.  You plop yourself on the unfamiliar bed, in the local hotel, and in the new land.  You just realized that you traveled overseas, overcame the language barrier, exchanged glances and conversations with a brand new group of people, tried a different cuisine, got lost and learned to read a new map and menu, as well as read signs in a different language, and you did all of this ON YOUR OWN!  You are so damn tired but you have never been so proud of yourself for pushing yourself into the abyss of the unknown.  You smile, and if God could take a snapshot of you falling asleep, you would look like the most beautiful, happy baby drifting off to sleep…

Then, it’s morning again. You wake up, somewhat disoriented, and realize that nothing is familiar.  The long day of travel from the day before seemed like a dream, and you have to get your bearings again.  It’s a different time zone, after all.   Your day starts new again.  You are experiencing everything for the very first time.  Again.  Each day of your travel abroad is intoxicating as well as exhilarating.  Of course, there will be frustrations with small bouts of loneliness.  When you are dining alone, for example, you look up and most people around you might be in pairs or groups.  You might (actually, you will) feel awkward.  Yes, you WILL feel lonely and awkward.  But the beauty of solo travel is that you will get to truly know yourself.  Why is this good?  Because you will have thoughts and insights that you never had before…about yourself and life in general.  Everything will seem more clear, pure, and never before experienced.  You will realize how strong and powerful you really are, and you will really feel like YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!  The fear of being alone might be forever vanquished, and you will most likely be left with the feeling of elation and quiet joy.  Truly, you will have learned to KNOW THYSELF.

When you are ready to head back home, you will realize that you just accomplished what most people in the world would never consider doing.  To travel across an ocean, alone, to experience the unknown and take a risk is a master undertaking.  You will feel an amazing high that you have never felt before.  It will feel like God himself touched your heart, blessed you, and spoke to you directly.  The problem is, it’s rare to feel this fantastic (as rare as traveling solo) so it will be difficult to convey this to your friends and loved ones for them to understand.  In fact, they will not understand.  It’s a completely different thing to imagine doing something vs. actually DOING it and then experiencing everything that goes along with it.  However, you will inspire others.  Some might even be jealous of your independence, and wait until you show them your beautiful, new, travel stamp!  If you like risk and adventure, and dare to experience the unknown while getting to truly know yourself, your true self,  then you must travel alone at least once in your life.  You will experience things that you haven’t before just like when you were a child, and you will rediscover LIFE again.  More than likely, you will want to do it again.  And, again…

As I’m still not sure if I’m traveling to Machu Picchu by myself, I will make plans as I did with all my other solo trips…with full awareness that I can handle anything while looking forward to seeing the world with eyes wide open…

About Blogatrixx

I took a solo trip to Istanbul in May, 2012 that changed me forever. It started my passion for travel, and it also ignited my passion for photography. This blog was created to express and appreciate the beauty of life through my travels.
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