travel

'It was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime. Instead it made us break up.'

It was a mere few days into my first trip overseas with my boyfriend ex boyfriend when I had already sensed this would be a long six weeks. We were headed for Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East – a trip which to me, as a long time traveller didn’t seem too difficult… but for a first timer to all of these continents (he had only ever left Australia to visit the USA), it was a huge journey ahead.

So here I was, a mere few days into the trip, already battling with the extra effort required to travel with another person – waiting for them to get out of bed in the mornings, wanting to see alternative attractions, wanting to take alternative routes, one of us had blisters, the other wanted to keep walking…. you get the idea.

We broke up shortly after we returned home — so there you have it. Point blank. I was a) not in the right relationship and b) knew I was more suited to solo travel and thought about the ‘glory days’ getting lost in cobblestone streets by myself a mere year earlier.

Relationship deal breakers. Article continues after this video.

So I was from that moment sold on the idea of travelling solo again… but this time for an entire year.

Why All Women Should Travel Solo

…It’s a heavy title and subtitle to adequately answer and while I don’t have ALL the reasons, I do have some great ones that I have taken away from my travels.

After convincing myself that solo was the only way for me to go (at this stage of my life), I booked a one-way flight to London on the day of my graduation from University….. & I’m now writing this post 7 months later as I get ready to board yet another flight, this time travelling from Miami to the Caribbean for a 10 day adventure. Here’s everything important to me that explains why I so adamantly claim all women should travel solo at least once in their lives…

Solo Travel Makes you More Confident

If you’re lacking in self-confidence, it can have serious effects on your livelihood. Without confidence in yourself you are likely to question your decisions thus being indecisive, seek reconfirmation in others, and never follow your own decisions and life path. Solo travel will not only help you gain self confidence ‘back in the real world’, it will leave you to feel more confident than you ever thought capable. You will walk to the beat of your own drum because you have seen the world, conquered challenges on your own, and learned to rely on yourself and yourself only.

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You Gain Independence

While you’re at the conquering the world (well, catching the right train anyway), you will invariably learn to solely depend upon yourself and yourself only. While that may not mean you can suddenly change a tire if the situation calls for it, you will now be more well-equipped to deal with such situations in a sound manner… even if it just means your patience is forever in tact. When you solely rely on yourself, there is nothing anyone can do to rattle you and nothing can be taken from you because even if you were stripped back to a bare nothing, you would have survival instincts. You’re used to being alone with your own thoughts for days and weeks at a time, you’re used to making do with what you have, and you’re used to making decisions for yourself.

' Solo travel will not only help you gain self confidence ‘back in the real world’, it will leave you to feel more confident than you ever thought capable.' Image: World of Wanderlust

You break down the idea of a ‘comfort zone’

Forget the days of comfort zones and those little people lingering around your ears telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. A solo female traveller no longer cares about looking her best 24/7, can get ready in under 60 seconds in the morning, and has learned that jetlag is a mind over matter ordeal. A solo female traveller doesn’t rely on others for their opinion, nor does she seek to be validated… she is comfortable in her own skin.

It’s a Process of Healing

Whether it’s a breakup, loss, life changing career move or you’ve just simply had enough of playing the game of life, solo travel will help you heal…. even if you didn’t realise you needed to!

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn

C. S. Lewis

You Learn

There will be ups and downs and sideway moments that, at the time, will feel like a roller coaster you didn’t realise you weren’t sure you wanted to go on…. but this is all part of the learning process. 12 days out of 10, you will be having a good time (that’s not a typo). On the rare occassion where something does go wrong, you will become more and more suited to dealing with issues because you are over time becoming more patient and understanding.

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Then there’s the obvious ways you will educate yourself…. language, culture, tradition, cuisine…. you name it. Everything will be different and exciting and new. You will learn to live in a world completely different to what you know.

You Evolve your Understanding of Love

I once believed that love was exclusively an emotion between two people in a relationship – be it a man and woman, man and man, woman and woman…. whatever the case. I may have even stretched my understanding of love to include animals because my goodness, do I love my dog Patrick. But there’s so much more to love than just that. From travelling the world solo I learned to love feelings of bliss, a sunny day, a clear sky, a city, a smile from a stranger, a smell I was fond of…. I learned to love in so many forms beyond people or animals. I learned to love love.

'From travelling the world solo I learned to love feelings of bliss.' Image: World of Wanderlust

Restore your faith in human kindness

As mentioned earlier, things can and will go wrong. But when they do, more often than not your faith in human kindness will be restored. I can’t tell you how many times I have been offered help by a stranger – be it money at the check-out counter, a phone to make a call, a free ride from one place to the other… you name it, people are (mostly) inherently good by nature.

Discover yourself, love yourself

Travelling solo as a woman will not only give you confidence and independence, it will also teach you to love yourself. As women, we tend to adopt a tendency to compare ourselves with other women, perhaps even competing with them. This is not in any way healthy, nor will it help you or other women in life – it will fester inside you until you are green with envy. But it is often easier said than done t simply just stop comparing ourselves with the women we see on the cover of magazines – airbrushed and all. So why solo travel? I’m not entirely sure why it is, but solo travel has a way of helping you to let go of these tendencies to compare yourself with others. You soon learn that there are so many different people out there in the world – different body shapes, different personalities, different hair colours, skin colours…. and so on and so forth. We are all different. Embrace your individualism.

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Appreciate the little things

After you’ve camped in the woods or lived off cereal for three days because you can’t access your bank funds, you will soon learn to appreciate the small things in life. Clean running water, a roof over your head, food – whatever it is, and human affection. These are the few simple things you need, anything else is just a blessing to be thankful for.

You Learn what is important in your life

You don’t just learn what is important in life, but what is important in YOUR life. You might hate solo travel – that’s okay, you have learned that you are not someone who loves to be alone and perhaps you find you are happiest when you have human affection. You might hate lethargic beach days and miss your busy corporate life and by the time you get home you have learned to appreciate the Monday-Friday ‘daily grind’. You might love the sense of freedom that comes with travelling the world and find a way that you can make this your career. Whatever be the case, you will learn what is important to YOU.

Most importantly…. you free yourself

Women who travel solo – for whatever reason, for whatever they take away from it, for whoever they meet along the way, for whatever they miss back home, will experience a change that is simply indescribable. It isn’t an adjective or a word found in the dictionary…. it is a feeling of freedom. Of discovery. Of self.

Image: World of Wanderlust, Penguin Books

Originally published on worldofwanderlust.com.

Brooke has written a book called World of Wanderlust, based on her hugely popular blog. Purchase your copy here and visit her website worldofwanderlust.com.

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