The past year was a tough one for all of us. There were so many challenges to deal with day in, day out. And I feel like many of us have had to sacrifice defining parts of our identity to keep healthy and safe.
Through the stress, worry, isolation, and frustration, however, there was one thing that I was missing the most: my solo travels.
My Travel History
You see, I first started traveling on my own when I was just over 18 years old. And that first time was one of the most valuable experiences of my life.
Going to a foreign country, on my own, with nothing but a backpack, a rough itinerary, and some hard-earned cash in my pocket, traveling alone was transformative.
For the first time in my life, I was not only left to my own devices. More importantly, I was given a sort of freedom. To discover who I really was away from the “constraints” of my social circle. To spend days alone, with my own thouhts. And to forge my own path by making decisions that were 100% mine.
Since that very first time, I’ve hardly had as many opportunities for solo travel as I’d have wanted. After all, exploring new places is just as exciting when you do it with friends, family, or a romantic partner. So, I’ve had to “compromise,” at least sometimes.
But every once in a while, I make it my point to treat myself to a weekend away with no one there but me to keep me company.
Why People Want to Travel On Their Own
As I was thinking (longingly) back to the good old days when hopping across the globe was an entirely doable thing, I started to wonder. How many other people felt as I do about exploring the world by themselves?
I must say: I was not let down by the data I found.
For one, it seems that, statistically, more than 10% of all travelers have taken a trip by themselves. Moreover, as many as 25% of millennials were planning on taking a solo trip in 2019 or 2020 (alas…).
Secondly, I took a look at the Google Search Trends graphs and found something quite interesting. Among the peaks of interest, two periods stood out for the past five years: the week between Christmas and New Year’s and mid-June.
To me, this means one of two things:
- The first possibility is that people see solo travel as a rite of passage. It’s an opportunity to attain their personal goals, find their true selves, build their identity, be who they really are.
- The second is that the idea of traveling alone is a treat.
But as I look at the two possibilities, I can’t help but wonder: what if both are correct?
The Gifts of Solo Adventure
For one, I think this is true because solo travel inevitably means a high level of freedom and control. Without anyone to slow you down or hurry you along, you can do absolutely anything you feel like. Sometimes that’s standing for hours in front of your favorite work of art in an overcrowded gallery. Other times, it’s sleeping in and having a lazy coffee at a local shop, just taking in the vibe.
Secondly, we must not forget that solo travel is always a journey of self-discovery and transformation. Whether you’re looking to spend some time by yourself, are ready to tackle a challenge, want to expand your horizons, or find inspiration in something completely new.
I cannot describe how much every single one of my solo trips contributed to me being the person I am today.
Back when I was 18, I was just a scared kid going out into the world alone for the first time. Today, I feel more like a confident woman unafraid to be left alone in an unknown place. And it was my trips that helped me grow.
Moreover, the transformation impacted every aspect of my life, whether I expected it to or not. It’s made me more courageous in my professional endeavors. The experience helped me learn how to make connections more easily. And most importantly, traveling alone has taught me how to deal with the inevitable periods of loneliness we all go through in life.
My Future Plans
When it comes to the future, my outlook on solo adventure hasn’t changed much. In fact, I can’t wait to get back to it. Whether that’ll be in the next few months or if I’ll have to wait a bit longer, I’m not sure.
But one thing’s for certain: I will definitely seek out every opportunity I can get to explore the world alone. Because, now that I am not able to do it, I understand just how important an experience it has been for me in the past.
And I encourage you to do the same. Who knows – you might just find it as enjoyable as I do.
Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.
Image courtesy of KaLisa Veer.