Honestly, I don’t even remember when the idea of traveling alone hit my mind. I mean… It IS a bit irrational. You have got so many options to make yourself a happy “not-a-solo” traveler. For example, you can take your boyfriend on a romantical adventure full of love and unforgettable experience that even your grandchildren will talk about. Or you can grab a bunch of friends, pack some booze, rent a car, hit a new town every single night and have wake-ups more awesome than all Hangover movies together.
But not me. Not this time. I decided to go alone. All by myself.
Well, if there was ever something “wrong” with me, it would be the fact that I always go for the tougher way if I have a choice. I simply consider “easy” to be boring.
Grabbing a bus might make your road faster, more comfortable and generally easier, but it would be still the same boring version of you that got dropped few kilometres further, maybe at the place where you were supposed to be, but still the same, unchanged, boring version of you.
However, if you hit the road on your own, you become a part of it. The heat of emblazed concrete will burn your feet, the sun will inflame your skin, the wind will lash against your face. The road might smash you, chew you, dump you to your knees and spew you out as a shaky human torso barely catching its own breath, but this would be a new you. The wiser, the braver. The better.
I am not going to say I was blindly courageous to travel alone from the very beginning. I wasn’t. I was a big packet of chicken’s poo. I have done decisions. Baaaad decisions. And I have learnt my lessons. And boy, it hasn’t even been 2 weeks into my trip.
Being left to the strange world all by yourself is a rapid education process called Life. And even though I am only at the beginning of this process, I have already learnt a thing or two about travelling solo. Here I come up with the most important bits:
- If you decide to travel on your own, do ACTUALLY do it.
This might sound like a joke but seriously – this was something I did. Or better said, didn’t. I didn’t travel alone. Not from the beginning. Scared of unknown, I agreed to travel with a stranger who approached me through Couchsurfing and who I never saw before. I knew my “free-spirit” solo trip was over from the first moment I saw him. “We have to go this way – We only have time for that – I don’t think you are right – Let’s do it this way.” Stress, pressure, resentment and anger. You don’t want this to be a part of your trip. Do NOT get scared. If what you want is to travel solo and be free, then do it. Not “half-do it”. You can’t go in between. Either you are going with someone and are willing to do compromises, or go by yourself and see where the winds take you. Looking for overlays between being free and being committed to your travel buddy will ruin your trip. Meet people, but make no promises. It is your road. Stay on it.
- If you messed up no. 1, end it up. Now!
When things are not going quite right, you feel it. It is like swimming against the flow. No, those guys you agreed to travel with won’t stop being annoying. No, they won’t stop having expectations from you, they won’t stop being unhappy about your individual decisions, neither will they magically turn into the best travel mates ever. It might not be the case and you might meet people who will become your best friends for a lifetime. But if this is not the case, then end it up. You are probably wasting your time, and their also.
- Be alone with yourself
Surprising as it is, people today can’t be alone on their own. They can be alone, but not on their own. Physically, but not mentally. Being alone on the road gets you to know yourself better. On your own, you are all that you’ve got. You own all the responsibility. If everything goes well, it is YOUR shoulder that you pat. If things f*ck up, it is YOU who has to deal with it. YOU are all your limits and skies. All your “ups” and “downs”. I realized this more than once while left alone on bus stops, beaches, in hostel rooms… And you know what? The feeling was empowering. Because in the end of the day, I knew it was me who got myself over all the petty troubles and dazzling victories, it was me who I could count on, whatever happened. Your “self” is amazing. Get to know it.
- Don’t close yourself to others
Life is not always easy, and sometimes it mess with us too, right? The days will be long and you will be tired. Your clothes will smell of sweat and you will be hungry. And sometimes the last thing you would want to see will be another human being. But still, don’t close up. Your time is limited and those people passing by might only pass once. Open yourself. Relax. Listen. You are not there to impress. You are there to learn.
- Be ready to struggle
Walking alone in the streets, hitchhiking on the side of the road, struggling to fix my broken camera by myself, I realized there was suddenly no one but me to deal with stuff I would usually get helped with. Suddenly, there was no mom to soothe me when I was sick, neither was there a boyfriend to carry my heavy bags in extreme conditions. But damn hell, I made it. A surprise, is it?
- Be ready to be lonely
Oh, yes. I can totally title myself the most opened and talkative person I know, and yet I have felt lonely. I have been to places where people wouldn’t talk to me. Where they wouldn’t even look at me. Where they would turn around after one minute of my harmless attempt to communicate and walk away (pointing at you, German surfer girls on Pacific Coast!). And I questioned myself when I went wrong and what I could have done better. The answer is, I didn’t. And I couldn’t. It is just people, they have their manners. We don’t own them. We don’t pick their behaviour. They are what they are and it has nothing to do with our existence or being. What we can do is to be our best selves – and that is also what attracts the best in others.
- Prepare for a ride
It won’t be just a road trip- it will be a hurricane. Once you hit the road, you get into a bewildering swirl of experience and adventure that will change your life. Let go of plans. Plans are boring. Let go of expectations. They set your limits. Life itself will take you for a ride. No worries – you will go through every single obstacle that comes in your way. You will do things you have never known you were capable of – and you might be easily impressed by your amazing abilities. Amazing as it sounds, go for it.
Traveling solo is awesome.