Do you feel like your life if missing something? Like you haven’t quite got it all figured out yet but you are being pushed to make decisions. Or has something in your life has changed and made you rethink the path ahead. This is when many people decide to travel. The main reasons for solo travel I have heard are:
Graduating University and not wanting to get a proper job.
Unhappy in their career so they quit their job.
Everyone was looking for more time to either heal or find clarity before heading back to reality.
My own reasons for travel were a combination of the above. My 8-year relationship ended and I was unhappy in my career. I knew there was more out there for me but I didn’t know what it was or how to find it.
This article discusses why solo travel could be the answer you are looking for. It can help you start or continue on a personal development journey that can change your life. Solo travel has so many benefits and I don’t mean experiencing the culture and having great photo’s but so much more. Everyone comes home from travel a different version of themselves. This article is from my point of view on how solo travel has accelerated my personal development.
What is Personal Development
This is something I started working on when I was in Spain at the beginning of this year. I hadn’t realised I was doing it until I started falling into the world of entrepreneurship on YouTube. I realised what I was doing was personal development the more I heard the term used in the videos I was watching.
Personal development is a term that encompasses the life long process of understanding yourself, skills and qualities. Understanding your aims in life and setting goals to help you achieve your potential. It’s all leading towards having a more fulfilling and better quality of life. Creating plans to help make relevant, positive and effective decisions.
It covers such a broad spectrum of things I struggle to define it. But for me it was about, looking inwards. I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life, and how I could be happy with what I had now and if not how to change it. It was about becoming more confident in my abilities and understanding what my skills are. As well as looking forward to a better future, not planning how it was going to go but setting goals to aim for.
Solo Travel and Personal Development
It was on my first solo travel trip to Spain that I realised the power of personal development. I forced myself to spend time with myself and I got to know me. This sounds silly but how often do you spend time alone in life. When you spend an extended period of time alone you start to look within, asking yourself questions like what makes me happy? Why is this making me unhappy? What do I REALLY want out of life?
I had never considered before what my interests were I always thought I was a boring person. Everyone talks about finding your passion and working on that. I felt like I didn’t have one. There was nothing interesting about me. My ex was what made me happy and the prospect of the family I could one day have. On my own I felt like nothing, what was my identity going to be if wife or mother may not happen?
I could have continued to live at home. Choosing not to change anything about my environment. Spending time moping about being single and not having any interests. Instead, I chose to travel, to remove myself from normal life. Travel accelerated my personal development journey, here’s how…
Solo Travel Makes You Face Fears
Solo travel challenged every part of my natural instincts to avoid danger, seek comfort and safety and plan for every eventuality. From the minute I waved goodbye to my family at the airport I was alone. The first time I did this I was emotionally numb still from a breakup and thought nothing of it. I kept expecting nerves to be there but they never came. I knew where I was going, I had been before and I had someone waiting for me at the other end.
When I did this for the second time this year I was more nervous. I was going to places that were completely new. The airport was new and I didn’t know what would be on the other side of it and it scared me. I knew my friend would be waiting for me at the first stop but from then on I would be completely alone. This in itself challenged me to be brave.
This quote I have heard in so many places from so many wise people. It is true, to be courageous you have to overcome something. Without fear, there is no courage or without vulnerability, there is no bravery. I now look back with pride on every time I have ever felt afraid or vulnerable and had the courage to overcome it. It was nerve-racking going through security at Sydney Airport with the sniffer dogs. I felt vulnerable arriving at my hostel and meeting my tour group for the first time. I was afraid of getting injured during my surf lesson. The thought of what could be lurking beneath, as I sea kayaked in Byron Bay, scared me. I was very nervous about getting in a rickety old plane on Fraser Island.
Although I was not travelling completely alone for much of these experiences, I was alone in the sense I was not with people I knew well. My ex used to be the only person that could reassure me and to push me to do things outside my comfort zone. But travelling challenges you to push yourself. Travel challenges you to be brave, because otherwise, you miss out on some incredible experiences. Each of my big fear moments has resulted in life-enhancing experiences. I had so much fun at my surf lesson. I had the most amazing up-close encounter with Whales when I was Sea Kayaking. The joy plane ride over Fraser Island was stunning heart-stopping fun!
Travel has taught me to be brave. It has taught me that I am unstoppable. If I can face those kinds of fears I can face anything that makes me feel afraid or vulnerable in everyday life.
Solo Travel Makes You Accept Uncertainty
If you know me or have read a few of my blogs you might know that I am a planner. I had my whole life planned out until last year. I knew roughly what stages of life I wanted to be at by when.
Travelling has changed all that, not only do I not plan too far ahead for accommodation and travel I have also stopped planning my life so much. Writing this I don’t know where I am going to be sleeping 4 nights from now. I don’t know if I am going to be heading north or south or staying where I am. Work is uncertain, I don’t know where or what job I am going to be doing, what my hours are. I am still struggling with this, but travelling forces you to accept it.
There will always be uncertainties while travelling, plans can fall through and you have to learn to be ok with it. I came to Australia with no plans after my tour. I had to be open to who I would meet and if I would continue travelling alone or with others. Now I have to be open to where work might be for me.
Learning to be flexible and not planning too much has been a massive learning curve for me. It is one which I am still battling with. It has made me realise how unpredictable life can be and that I need to learn to be more accepting of uncertainty. I no longer have a 5-year plan, instead, I have goals. Goals which are flexible, that I am working towards but I am open to them changing and evolving along the way.
Solo Travel Makes You Be Your Authentic Self
No one knows who you are, you are thousands of miles away from home and you may never see these people again in your life. This is the perfect opportunity not to hide or change your personality. Be authentically you and be unapologetic about it. I don’t like staying up late or drinking too much. Running by the river or walks along the beach are what make me happy. I enjoy blogging and trying to figure out an online business. So I spend my time creating content in various forms. I choose the activities I take part in so I make the most out of my experience rather than following the crowd.
I don’t care if my roommates think I am odd getting up at 6:30 to go for a run or going to bed at 10 instead of partying. I’m learning what I like and what is important to me and I am not changing who I am to please anyone. This is so empowering. I know that this is my life and my experience and I will live it in exactly the way that I want to. This is so much easier than it would be to do at home.
Often at home, we can change our behaviour to suit the people we are with. Most people are more professional at work but let their hair down with their friends. I am a bit odd as I am the other way round. My personality type means that I build connections with people I see more often. So I tend to be more myself with my work colleagues but more reserved with my old school friends.
While travelling it’s different. You have to make connections fast so the easiest way to see if you are compatible with people is to be the truest version of yourself.
Solo Travel Makes You Grateful
Solo travelling makes you appreciate the little luxuries of home. From having privacy and a comfortable bed to being able to talk to friends and family whenever you want to. When I was on the group tour I was so excited to share my experiences with my family. But, I have struggled with the timezone difference. Waiting until 3 pm to talk to them is hard. This made me appreciate having them close by. It also made me grateful that technology even exists to be able to contact them in the first place.
More recently I have been struggling with making decisions. Where to move to next, what kind of work to apply for. I have also missed the comfort of my own room and privacy. This has made me appreciate the deep connections I had with family and friends and my bed. Chatting to strangers in the room doesn’t quite fulfil the need for a connection you can get from a deep and meaningful with your mum or friend. Talking to someone that knows you inside and out is so rewarding and I appreciate that now more than I ever have. I also miss my clean sheets, man am I grateful for my washing machine and bed at home.
Solo Travel Makes You Present
Switching off from social media, email notifications and the news is so much easier when the present is so beautiful, new and exciting. I wanted to be more present on social media for the sake of building my business. But, I struggled to stay up to date with it while I was on the road. Lack of WiFi didn’t help. I was seeing and doing some amazing things and learning to live in the moment.
There were moments where I stopped worrying about the future. No longer thinking about what I was going to do next. Especially the bigger stuff like when I was going to get married and have children. Those things completely left my mind. Travelling bought me back to the present. I appreciated where I was, what I was doing and I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I stopped wishing my life away because I didn’t want the fun to end.
To Sum Up
There are ups and downs when travelling solo, but every experience is a lesson to learn from. The time alone with my thoughts has allowed for so much self-reflection. I am learning to understand myself and to love myself. I am thinking more about what I want out of life. Working out what my guiding principles and goals are and less about how my life compared to others. I have learned to be more grateful for the luxuries and the connections I have at home. Pushing myself to feel fear, to do things outside of my comfort zone has taught me that I am capable of anything.
I am only a few months into my Australia trip and about 8 months into solo travelling. So far solo travel has allowed me to accelerate my personal development. Take the leap and find out how solo travel can change your life too. Jump on a plane and see where it leads you.