Have you watched the movie “Into the Wild”? It is about a young man named Christopher McCandless from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given his savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Although he was died at the end but how he was able to see life really touched my heart and soul. This movie haunted me through the years that is why I started my journey being a nomad.
Traveling on the road is all about experiences; it is a chance to challenge the life beyond the comfort zone of a routine cubicle especially if you are a solo traveler. It is intensely personal and you can discover more about yourself at the same time. Traveling on your own is fun, challenging, vivid, and exhilarating. Realizing that you have what it takes to be your own guide is a thrill known and your trip is a gift from you to you.
I always find myself the courage to travel alone. I don’t know why but instead of being afraid about what will happen to me on the road, I always feel the opposite way. I guess I’m obsessed of meeting plenty of people and often enjoy a montage of fun throughout my trip. It has become a new part of my reality and I absolutely love doing it while learning many lessons along my way. Being the ‘not liking to wait on others’ and ‘get up and go’ person that I am, it’s just a natural fit for me to go all by myself. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and so very rewarding all at the same time.
Spending time alone helps to get to know yourself better. The best relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself. Traveling solo gives you the time you need to slow down, reflect and spend that quality time with yourself that you may often miss when you’re caught up in the day-to-day life back home. Also, the way you look at things will change. Your perspective on certain parts of the world, customs and beliefs will be completely different when you experience it firsthand and how you understand people from different walks of life.
Though, traveling alone has its pros and cons — for me, the pros far outweigh the cons. When you’re on your own, you’re independent and in control. You can travel at your own pace, do the things that interest you, eat where and when you like, and splurge where you want to splurge. You don’t have to wait for your partner to pack up, and you never need to negotiate where to eat or when to call it a day. You go where you want, when you want, and you can get the heck out of that stuffy museum when all the Monet’s start to blur together. If ad-libbing, it’s easier for one to slip between the cracks than two.
Of course, there are downsides of traveling alone. When you are on your own, you don’t have a built-in dining companion. You’ve got no one to send ahead while you wait in line, help you figure out the bus schedule, or commiserate with when things go awry. And traveling by yourself is usually more expensive. With a partner, accommodations cost less because they’re shared. Rarely does a double room add up to as much as two singles. Other things become cheaper too when you’re splitting costs, such as groceries, guidebooks, taxis, buses and more.
But when you travel with someone else, it’s natural to focus on your partner — how you’re getting along, whether she meant it when she said she wasn’t hungry — and tune out the symphony of sights, sounds, and smells all around you. Traveling on your own allows you to be more present, more open to your surroundings. You’ll meet more people — you’re seen as more approachable. You’re more likely to experience the kindness of strangers.
Traveling Alone Without Feeling Lonely
For many people contemplating their first solo trip, their biggest fear is that they’ll be lonely. Big cities can be cold and ugly when the only person to talk to is yourself. And being sick and alone in a country where no one knows you is a sad and miserable experience.
Fortunately, combating loneliness is easy. The continent is full of travelers and natural meeting places, especially in peak season (the built-in camaraderie of other travelers is harder to come by in winter).
You’ll run across vaga-buddies every day. If you stay in hostels, you’ll have a built-in family (hostels are open to all ages). Or choose small pensions and B&Bs, where the owners have time to talk with you. At most tourist sites, you’ll meet more people in an hour than you would at home in a day. If you’re feeling shy, cameras are good icebreakers; offer to take someone’s picture with his or her camera.
Take a walking tour of a city (ask at the tourist office). You’ll learn about the town and meet other travelers, too. If you’re staying in a hostel, check its message board — some hostels arrange group tours.
It’s easy to meet people on buses and trains. When you meet locals who speak English, find out what they think — about anything. Take your laundry and a deck of cards to a launderette and turn solitaire into gin rummy. You’ll end up with a stack of clean clothes and interesting conversations.
Play with kids. Thumb wrestle. Learn how to say “pretty baby” in the local language. If you play peek-a-boo with a baby or fold an origami bird for a kid, you’ll make friends with the parents as well as the child.
Try meeting up with other solo travelers through social media. Like-minded individuals can find one another on Meetup, whose worldwide members welcome visitors to wide-ranging events such as photography walks, happy hours, and weekend skiing. Also consider joining a hospitality-exchange network like CouchSurfing, its more low-key alternatively to find and meet travelers from around the world.
Consider alternatives to formal dining. Try a local-style fast-food restaurant, a self-service café or a small ethnic eatery. Visit a supermarket deli and get a picnic to eat in the square or a park. Get a slice of pizza from a take-out shop and munch it as you walk along, people watching and window-shopping. If you are in hostel, eat in the “members kitchen of a hostel” for sure you will always have companions.
A restaurant feels cheerier at noon than at night, and a maître d’ is more likely to seat a solo diner (especially a woman) at a favorable table for lunch than for dinner. If you like company, eat in places so crowded and popular that you have to share a table, or ask other single travelers if they’d like to join you. Assume that many couples would enjoy a third party at their dinner table to stoke the conversation.
If you eat alone, be busy. Use the time to learn more of the language. Practice your verbal skills with the waiter or waitress (when I asked a French waiter if he had kids, he proudly showed me a picture of his twin girls). Read a guidebook, a novel, or make a list of your next destinations. Do trip planning, draw in your journal, or scrawl a few postcards to the folks back home.
An afternoon at a cafe is a great way to get some writing done; for the cost of a beverage and a snack, you’ll be granted more peace and privacy than at a public fountain or other open space.
Go for a walk along well-lit streets. With gelato in hand, enjoy the parade of people, busy shops, and illuminated monuments. You’ll invariably feel a sense of companionship when lots of people are around. Take advantage of the wealth of evening entertainment: concerts, movies, puppet shows, and folk dancing. Some cities offer tours after dark. You can see Paris by night on a river cruise.
During the evening, visit any cafe with wireless and send travel news to your friends and family. You’ll find friendly answers in your inbox the next time you have the opportunity to get online.
If you like to stay in at night, get a room with a balcony overlooking a square. You’ll have a front-row seat to the best show in town. Call a friend or your family (rates are cheap with an international phone card). Read novels set in the country you’re visiting. Learn to treasure solitude. Go early to bed, be early to rise. Shop at a lively morning market for fresh rolls and join the locals for coffee.Google+