My ideal night is sitting at home, glass of wine in hand, watching some sort of house renovation program on TV. I find making new friends exhausting at best and stressful at worst, and even the thought of going clubbing makes me want to take a nap.
Then I saw an advert for a Contiki tour across Europe and after failing to convince any of my friends to join me, I made a spontaneous decision and booked it by myself. It was probably the best decision I ever made. So, here are 5 reasons why every introvert (just like me) should travel solo at least once…
You become more confident
There’s nothing more frightening than leaving your comfort zone and being stuck on a bus full of people you don’t know, all of whom seem perfectly at ease with the situation. Honestly, it sounded like my worst nightmare. Then I arrived in London and discovered almost everyone else was just as nervous as me.
The following weeks on the tour taught me that not only could I travel by myself – but I could thrive. From navigating the public transport system of Rome (which is one of the best places to travel alone), to talking to locals in a poor attempt of their language and travelling to countries I’ve only dreamed of – I found that I had never felt so confident in my entire life. As a female solo traveller, having that kind of reassurance can be quite fulfilling.
You do things you never thought you would do
The thing about introverts is that eventually we reach a point in which we want to retreat and be anti-social for, like, a week. Which is pretty hard to do when you’re constantly surrounded by people 24/7 for almost a month. There were many times when all I wanted was to get back to my room and have a nap, but I stuck it out because I knew that I may never come back to these countries.
So when the people on my tour wanted to go clubbing, I went with them, and when they did a bike tour of Prague and Edam, I did that too. Then, when the tour was over, I caught up on my sleep.
You create amazing new friendships
Before I went on the tour I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to make any friends and the tour would be one big awkward adventure.
I couldn’t be more wrong. Right from day one I formed friendships with people traveling from all over the world, many of whom were also solo travellers. Where I would usually hold back from talking to new people, I found myself approaching them and talking about the journey we were about to go on. The great thing about Contiki tour is that you already have something in common with the people on them and it’s a great conversation-starter.
You become more independent
Predictable, I know, but there’s a reason why people say they travel to find themselves. In my case, I came back home and realised the things I was once so afraid of doing I now felt completely comfortable doing, WITHOUT relying on my extroverted friends.
You experience different cultures
As someone who doesn’t leave their house an awful lot, sometimes it’s hard to remember people live different lives to you. Traveling across Europe introduced me to so many different cultures that I not only gained a new respect for, but learnt from too. Trying new foods, learning the history of countries and overcoming language barriers was like an adventure on top of an adventure, and it only made me more passionate about traveling.