6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Travel Solo
By Dana Simas (Guest Blogger)
I recently took a leap of faith and decided to go on a five-week solo journey through Thailand.
I had prepared for the journey by researching transportation schedules and printing road maps in case my GPS didn’t work. I read blogs about how safe the country is for solo female travelers and what kind of hostels had social activities.
What I didn’t prepare for however was the spiritual and emotional price I would pay for such an adventure when I returned home. I was completely naïve to the impact such a journey would have on every fiber of my being.
For those considering a solo adventure, I applaud your desires and deeply encourage you to take that leap of faith, but ready yourself because it’s not for the faint of heart. As a warning, you shouldn’t travel solo if…
1) What other people think bothers you
Traveling solo means you will be spending a lot of time in your own company. There will be plenty of times you eat alone, walk alone, ride the bus/train/ferry, etc. alone. If you are unable to remain steadfast in your decision when asked by a couple, or a nice Thai lady doing your nails, why you are alone or not married, it could convince you that you’re missing something and need something more. It’s hard to be extremely vulnerable and admit, “it’s just me, here I am” and the more you receive those questions you can either feel emboldened in your decision to travel solo or it can make you feel hyper aware of your solitude, most likely a combination of the two.
2) You aren’t ready for change in your relationships
Coming down from a high like traveling solo for weeks can be a gut-wrenching, confusing yet enlightening experience. You come back home and still feel like you’re alone, there were people who shared experiences along your journey but they are no longer there and the people from your default life don’t have a clue what you just experienced. You will grow on your solo journey, you’ll be forced to flex your emotional muscles which make deeper self-discovery inevitable. Home will stay the same and you may feel very disconnected because you don’t come back the same. What you know about yourself has changed, you’ve changed and your relationships will change as a result. It won’t be easy because your friends and family won’t be able to offer much support, not that they won’t try or that you won’t be grateful for their efforts, but you experienced those things alone, only you know what that radical self-discovery and self-reliance has done to your spirit.
3) If you don’t want to find out what it’s like to have utter freedom
It’s just you and the wide open journey of your choice. You can go to sleep when you want, you can eat wherever and whenever you want, you are responsible for each and every decision you make, utter freedom. In our regular lives we have the freedom to make choices, but we have responsibilities that largely dictate what we do, when and how. But that’s not the case when you’re traveling alone. It’s just one big adventure and you get to write each sentence, there’s no co-writing this story, you own every word. While this may sound like something a lot of people dream about, it’s actually frightening when you’re staring it in the face.
Solo travel means ebbs and flows of social interaction, there will be days when you will only have yourself to talk to and entertain or console. The scenario changes from what you think you’d do if it was just you, to finally seeing what you would really do. Enjoying your own company can be difficult for a lot of people, you have to sit in that discomfort and be ok with it or you’ll drive yourself bonkers. If you don’t want to discover the most authentic you, then you shouldn’t travel solo.
4) If you aren’t ready for the repercussions of losing that freedom after the adventure
Surrendering to complete freedom can be life-changing, but trying to fit your life back into a cage after a solo adventure can be very confusing. When you arrive back to your default life many aspects won’t fit back so neatly. It’s a strange phenomenon when the comfortable becomes uncomfortable, when the place you call home never really feels the same again. Every aspect of your life will be affected, you will have to take a hard look and decide what matters the most to you now and you will have no other choice than to live that authentic life because nothing else will satisfy. You can’t go from living the most authentic you to faking it, at least not for very long, those feelings will catch up to you. These are serious repercussions of solo travel, when you don’t let fear dictate you and you’re open to the process, very powerful things happen in your life. You can’t really go back after such an experience.
5) If you aren’t ready to have your heart broken repeatedly
Traveling alone allows you the ability to be completely open and vulnerable with other people, especially other solo travelers. Actually, it doesn’t just “allow” you to be open, it throws you into the fire of discomfort and forces you to be vulnerable. When you’re by yourself there is no one else to take comfort in, no one to distract from your own personal connection to a complete stranger. At home you have your group of friends and family that you have access to and who can provide immediate relief from any feelings of discomfort or loneliness. You lose that crutch the minute you take that first step on your journey alone.
Traveling alone forces you to open yourself up again and again knowing that you will at some point have to detach and there’s a very real chance you may never see that beautiful person, place or thing again. Your heart will be broken over and over again as you attach and detach. Along your journey sometimes you have control over who stays on the ride with you and for how long. You can switch up your plans to meet up with someone who struck your fancy, or you could choose to never see them again. You could choose to stay in a place a little longer or you can choose to leave a place early. Sometimes our default world will dictate when you must detach and this is excruciating because you want to hang on, wishing that it could last forever. But it won’t, you know it won’t, you can know this deep down before you head out on your journey but it is inevitable you will have to say goodbye and a piece of your heart stays there. This attachment and detachment can be excruciating, don’t travel alone if you aren’t ready for that kind of pain.
6) If you aren’t ready to experience something bigger than yourself
Don’t travel solo if you don’t want to know exactly what’s missing in your life because traveling solo is one big exercise in fulfilling your own needs and wants. It’s the purest form of freedom and when you practice fulfilling your own needs and wants you gain a profound understanding of yourself. It’s like becoming the next-level you and it’s difficult to come back from that, you can’t unopen that box. There’s also an element that it’s not so much what you’re missing but also what is good about your life, what are you thankful for? Is there something to miss? People travel solo for different reasons, some can be ready for it, ready to take that next step to challenge themselves beyond anything they’ve done before. And then there are people who travel at the spur of the moment because they needed to escape and find something else. In both scenarios the person is seeking something and, as the saying goes, “what you seek is also seeking you.” Be careful what you go seeking, you may just find it.
None of this is meant to discourage solo travel because I still feel solid that it is one of the most powerful experiences you’ll ever have in your life. My intent is to put forward the very real repercussions that one can experience during and after such a journey. I wasn’t quite prepared with an understanding of what my solo adventure might do for my spiritual and emotional self, I knew what I had hoped to find out, but I was unprepared for the return home.