The most difficult thing I find about travelling solo is not the fear of being alone, stranded on the other side of the world with nobody’s company but mine. It’s not the fear of conquering new cities and environments with nobody by my side to support me. It’s not the fear of the myriad of possible disasters that may occur – or the terror of being a young woman in an unfamiliar with no one to look out for her. It’s simply this: I’m constantly leaving people behind.
I’ve travelled alone, and always loved it. I love the sensation of waking up and moving on my terms. Of spending my minutes in varying states of contemplation and exhilaration. I love the rush of standing atop crests and looking out over a city I met only the day before, and thinking, I got myself here.
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10 things you learn about yourself when you travel solo
Going solo doesn't mean alone
There’s nothing quite like the throwing yourself into the hands of the world and giving yourself a chance to fend for yourself. So, the state of being alone, and the possible loneliness which accompanies it, doesn’t frighten me.
When travelling with friends or family, I find myself absorbed in their sphere. We move together as a united group and that group remains stable. We meet people along the way, but we have our own set plans and don’t need to branch out to others for company. It’s not a conscious decision, but it happens to fall that way.
When I travel alone, I’m forced into the spheres of other solo adventurers, of other groups. A young woman sitting by herself is much more likely to be approached than a tight group of friends in the same space. So, when travelling solo, I become more approachable – whether by virtue of my solitary state or my natural desire to connect with others, I don’t know. It’s probably both. I talk with people. We share stories. We become involved in each others’ plans.
A constant state of departure
What this does, is create a webbed network of friendships and acquaintances which criss-crosses cities and traverses borders. I couldn’t even count the countries in which I have people to visit, and I am constantly forming new bonds. But this also means that I am constantly in a state of departure – and that is both the most beautiful and exciting, the most poignant and heartbreaking thing of all.
I grow incredibly attached to people, and by extension, to the places that I associate with them. Each time I leave home, I am torn about where to go, knowing that any place I visit will most probably leave imprints on my heart forever.
The last time that I visited Europe, in 2017, I zigzagged across the continent visiting friends and family from several countries. I saw beautiful things, belly-laughed with the most amazing people and further cemented connections which were already strong. That’s hard to leave behind, and each time I uprooted myself to move on to a new place, I was left in tears. And let’s not forget that in between all of these meet-ups and visits, I also met other awesome/funny/brilliant/kind/intelligent people who I’m still in contact with today.
I love to invite people into my bubble. Travelling solo means that I am able to join forces with so many amazing people from all over the world. It’s simultaneously the most daunting and most beautiful thing, because I constantly leave people.
But with promises of returns to Europe and insistence that they should visit me in Australia, I always carry our shared memories with me. So perhaps a better way to put it, would be to say that I don’t see these wonderful people very often. Because these connections don’t expire. And it’s these memories, and the promise of creating more, that keep me travelling, no matter the circumstance.