A person who loves solo travel is seen as a free spirit. A true nomad who’s broken free from the shackles of society and dared to march to the beat of their own drum. The solo traveller doesn’t need another’s reassurance, they make big bold decisions every single day. They are the ones with fire in their eyes, who trek miles to soak up the perfect sunset. They make switching countries look as easy as changing their pants. They live life, every single second of every single day, for themselves. In a society that encourages conformity, this makes them uninhibited soul warriors.
You’ll never hear a solo traveller tell you anything but how wonderful, life-changing and liberating it is to travel alone. It’s all true, you’ll learn your biggest lessons in love, life and the beautiful planet we share. You’ll change as a person and your very core will be strengthened. You’ll never depend on another, you will be the true master of your own destiny. Meeting new people will become a daily occurrence and that will quickly teach you never to settle for less. You will establish your tribe, a mixture of old friends and new. Initially, you’ll let all kinds of weird and wonderful people into your life but you’ll quickly learn to be discerning about who sticks around.
This magic starts to evolve from day one, the moment you take your first flight, bus journey or boat to a faraway land alone. Each and every day you navigate the globe as a solo wanderer you’ll learn so much, not only about others but about yourself too. The kindness of strangers will open up a part of your heart that you had no idea existed. As a solo traveller, you’ll experience the very best the world has to offer. Any stereotypes or tales of whole cultures or lands being dangerous will dissolve as you learn the truth. But your love life, well I’m sorry to break it to you, but solo travel will throw a huge anti-cupid grenade right onto that. Boom! You will forever be undateable to those average guys and girls.
Ah, this wonderful dating society we live in, picking people from photos and a sentence about themselves. Thanks to solo travel, your criteria for a match will have changed dramatically. You’ll scan for stuckness, not viewing it as stability. Life goals and ambitions will now be the most important quality. How could you settle for anything less than a free spirit, who can pick up their life at a moment’s notice?
Office job – swipe left. Owns a dog – swipe left. Loves spending time with family – swipe left. Cosy nights in – massive scary alarm bells left!
Of course, every dater knows that we’ve all climbed mountains, are photographers and practice yoga. But you’ll find yourself cynically thinking about how much you love these things. Is it a way of life or something you did once on a summer vacation? Okay so they profess their free-ness, but the reality is it’s just not enough if it’s not ingrained into their soul. Or maybe they’ll claim they’re everything they’re not and join you on your journey only to bail later when the going gets tough. Pick wisely nomadic friends, or you may find yourself stuck too.
Solo travel ruins small talk
Let’s be real, talking about the weather will never set anyone’s soul on fire. Unless you’ve been stranded on a Fijian island due to an impending cyclone or perhaps you’re a storm-chaser. It’s not just weather, but small talk is a way of life for so many. ‘What’s your favourite food?’ is a typical getting-to-know-you question. If they respond with pizza and dare to use the word Dominos and not because they ‘experienced pizza heaven in Napoli’, then your heart may break a little.
You’ll start to realise how often people chat about nothing at all. Yeah, sure traveller small talk exists and usually begins with: ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Where have you been?’, ‘Where are you going?’. These questions are asked every single day but the answers open up whole new worlds of possibility and understanding. Each response kicks open doorways to dreams and inspiration.
Those long sleeper train nights where you’ve bared your soul to a total stranger, talking about your innermost fears or the dreams that make your eyes sparkle. What is it about solo travel and sleeper trains?! Most average humans love a bit of small talk. Some people have never dared to explore the depths of their souls or even given themselves the time to learn what makes them tick.
Makes you crave alone time
Solo travel is rarely lonely but you will learn to love being alone. That space to think and contemplate all those thoughts that may have flitted into your brain when you lived a ‘normal life’. That precious time spent in coffee shops where you just people-watch and smile at people who interact. Those rare times you bagged a dorm all to yourself and chose to spend the evening writing and exploring what makes you tick. Oh and the endless magical bus journeys, which equalled un-guilty thinking, reading and learning time.
The desire for this blissful freedom doesn’t end. Well maybe in the first throws of a relationship, when you’ve got yourself a good one. But, alone time has now become so precious that you’ll begin to crave it.
‘Babe, I can’t see you on Saturday’, you’ll say. ‘Why not’, he will say. ‘Because I need some space to think, to breathe, to create and be me.’ Yeah… you can imagine how well that goes down with the average partner. You may find yourself thinking up excuses as to why you need this time, but lying isn’t cool. So good luck solo travellers, it takes a special person to understand why you NEED your alone time.
This leads to faraway friends
You can’t travel solo without picking up new friends in faraway places. You’ll become a magnet for free spirits just like you. The experiences you’ll share will bond you faster than ten years of friendship back home.
The euphoria of reaching a mountain peak together, the bonding over that unidentifiable street food ‘meat’ you shared, being dropped off in a shady town in the dead of night and finding your way to the hostel together. It’s near impossible to explain to a non-travelling friend but the dizzying experience of exploring the globe, crossing paths and sharing these experiences is like a friend-shaped chemical reaction. Bonded for eternity, even when you return to ‘real life’.
So when you have friends from all over the globe popping in to visit you, don’t expect your average partner to understand. ‘Mark from Australia is winging by this weekend’, or Inge from Amsterdam, Nick from New York, Leann you know the chica who I bonded with whilst freezing our t*ts off in Bolivia’s salt hotel and then partied our way through Brazil.’ Maybe your average partner will be curious but don’t expect them to understand or connect with your travelling BFF. If they’re okay with that then wonderful. Best of luck explaining why you need to go and visit them in their faraway land though!
Living out of a bag for extended periods of time became a way of life. Not having anyone to impress or keep up appearances for is liberating. Solo travel strips you of your need to present yourself as a perfectly polished human as you quickly learn it’s what lies beneath that counts.
Sure, when returning to ‘real life’ the volume of clothes available to you is head-spinning, but it wears off. That new pair of jeans becomes a plane ticket, and those heels are impractical for travel. These material possessions no longer hold the same value as they once did.
Getting my golden sun-bleached (burnt!) hair lopped off and coloured a sensible shade was heartbreaking. My wild mane was now a part of me, the travelling me. So making it conform was like an ending.
When your partner suggests you hit the shops together or gets over-excited about a new shirt/dress/pair of shoes, a little part of you dies inside. For you now know that these things mean nothing at all and that money could be used on experiences. You battle hard to enjoy the happiness the purchase has given them, but that’s when you realise you’re not on the same wavelength. You prefer them in flip-flops anyway.
Fiercely opinionated solo travellers
A solo traveller learns so much, not only about the world but themselves. They never feel the need to agree for ease or to keep the peace. They’ll have explored corners of the globe others haven’t even dreamed of and spent time in communities mind-blowingly different. Learning to adapt to new cultures becomes second nature and respecting other humans and their differences is a given. You’ll have opinions about global issues, as you’ll have been there and experienced them. You’ll be branded as a ‘know-it-all’ but your experience will mean you don’t care as you know the truth and you’re not afraid of sharing it. Expect a backlash!
Routine is now the enemy and spontaneity is your life source. You will think nothing of booking a flight on Thursday for an immediate weekend getaway. To somewhere you’ve never been before, just because. You don’t mind if your partner comes with you, hell you’d quite like it if they don’t! They may hesitate when you mention this newly forming plan, make excuses about needing time to sleep, watch that box set or get the house in order after a busy week at work. Your eyes will glaze over and your fingers will already be flitting between the Skyscanner and Hostelworld apps, poised to hit ‘book.’
You’ll get into conversations about your future and instead of mortgages and careers, and your dreams will be a list of countries. A whole world of opportunities are out there and your backpack looks so rejected lying on your bedroom floor.
If you’ve been bitten by the solo travel bug, you can try to conform, but you will never see settling into a conventional life as a viable option. Your only solution is to find someone wild and free to run with you.
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