My first solo travel adventure
Despite being 40 and having been a keen traveller since I was old enough to explore the world, until recently I had never travelled to a different country on my own. “An exciting adventure” is what I billed it as, in reality I was full of fear at the thought of my first solo travel adventure. Not just a little niggling worry by the way, but a full on, heart racing, fear of the unknown.
In my 40 years of life I have never taken a flight on my own. I was close to petrified in all honesty
It began the day before I left, springing out of bed in the middle of the night to check (and check again) that I had packed something, charged something, made a note of something important. It continued in my dreams with a recurring ‘feels like real life’ nightmare about oversleeping and missing my flight. It was the first thing I felt when I woke up, driving me to wake up my sleeping husband to ask him random questions about the immigration process of taking both a domestic and and international flight in one trip. At this stage I realised I had officially turned into a crazy lady.
The journey was peppered with an almost compulsive checking to see that I still had my phone, money and bag with me. My heart seemed to be running at double speed my brain was on fire, doing overtime trying to stay alert. It was exhausting.
Surely this is not what solo travel is all about?
Thankfully, not even I could keep up these levels of fear and anxiety for long. I managed to successfully get myself to my new destination, check into my guesthouse and with a bit of effort the anxiety began to unwind enough for me to go out and see what it was like to be on my own in a new place.
Home for the duration of my solo trip. Very pleased that I managed to get myself here successfully
Then it happened, I began to think that solo travel is really quite liberating
I wandered streets at leisure, looking in shops thinking only of my own agenda. Ah the bliss of total selfishness. There was no compromise, no discussion, no awareness of what anyone else was thinking.
Happily wandering the streets of Ubud alone
I spread my wings a bit and booked yoga classes, sought out new restaurants and ate on my own (something I usually hate doing) with a new sense of enjoyment. I met up with friends and chatted to new people making me realise that you’re never alone if you don’t want to be when you travel.
I met up with friends (who I absolutely adore)
I ate all this, on my own, no sharing… a bonus of solo travel
It was all going surprisingly well and I have to admit it was really quite a lot of fun
But the one thing that my first solo travel adventure really taught me (other than the fact that all my fears were totally ungrounded) was that there are a lot of things that I take for granted when I travel as part of a couple. When you travel with another person, there is always someone there to take the strain, there’s always someone looking out for you, someone who will plan and organise things to help you and this a real gift. It wasn’t until I set off on my own with full responsibility for everything that I realised the impact of all this.
A friend told me that solo travel is wonderful, how you can listen to your own voice and she was certainly right. When you travel with someone else, their thoughts, opinions and judgement of a situation always sneak in; sometimes this can be just what is needed and at other times it can be a real distraction from listening to your own intuition.
Here’s me with no distractions, listening to my own intuition
My short experience of travelling solo showed me there are benefits travelling with a partner but going it alone, but there are also downsides to both styles of travel. Solo travel gives you total freedom but sometimes that freedom is full of a weighty responsibility. Travelling as part of a couple gives you security but it can also mean you forget to do the things that you, as an individual, really want to do.
Perhaps a little of something different is what we all need every now and again? A chance to reflect on the things we have and those we don’t?
I’m happy to say that my first solo travel adventure was an energising, inspirational, empowering and fun filled success. I won’t be changing my life drastically and going it alone anytime soon but I’ll certainly book a few more solo trips in the diary just to keep me on my toes.
After all, variety is the spice of life…