Solo travel. Because life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. As I write this, I have around 36 hours before my next trip. I haven’t packed anything… except my camera 🙂 It’s been quite some time since I did a long hike, and also since I traveled alone.
Let’s face it. There are many things that are comforting about traveling in a group. The last major trip I did was to Turkana – forget the constant search for new beaches around my town! On that note, I will share images from some of the most spectacular beaches in the Kenyan Coast. Hii mambo ya kufika Pirates then mnarudi Nairobi iishe! To those who don’t speak Swahili, I just said there’s a lot more to be explored in Mombasa than is common knowledge.
Back to Turkana. The crew was amazing and I will most certainly go on other trips with them. It is pretty impressive to travel with photographers too – you get all the cool pics!
But now here’s a twist 😛
Here’s where this obsession started…
I did my first solo trip in Sri Lanka way back. I can say Nepal but I won’t cuz my main aim there was something else other than traveling around. Naïve of me since volunteering is one of the best ways through which to travel abroad. I did travel, but Sri Lanka was on a different scale all together. It was one of the most random decisions I have ever had to make. Sri Lanka is home –for lack of a better word. I risked not being allowed reentry into India given I was on a single entry visa, you know how it is with my passport 🙁 I was scared, but looking back, it helped that I did.
I will never forget any detail of that trip for as long as I live. How I had to wait for a flight for more than 9 hours after almost fighting with a cab guy for “making me late”, sigh. The many friends I made who are now family. All the places I visited and the conversations I struck.
I have since learned to enjoy my own company – I use those words a lot in the exact same order nowadays haha. Be charitable and call me independent, not a loner 😉 Quiet spaces calm me, empty beaches inspire me, and deserted forests cheer me up. I can watch people conduct their social rituals from a distance, and not feel left out even for a minute.
I have had very interesting trips with others. Good time to thank everyone for the unique experiences they offered. That said, there is a lot in reaching out to solitude.
“We are by far the most fascinating of species in the sense that even in a world of untapped wonder and a universe unknown, we still find ways to be bored.”
Here are a few perks of solo travel:
It is empowering
I am naturally a very reserved person. After traveling alone for some time now, however, I can even start a conversation with a rock if I like. This sort of empowerment is one that gives us options. I mean, I either want to get to know you or I don’t. I get to book your house or plan my trip with you if the offer given makes sense to me. No obligation whatsoever. Confidence levels soar and you know that you no longer have to please crowds. When you no longer need anyone’s validation, that is bliss.
Planning trips is much easier
I told you earlier on that I haven’t started packing. I’m not even kidding! I know I will make it within a considerably short time. It may seem negligent of me but I haven’t even done most reservations. If everything goes well, I should get to my destination on time and find some place suitable to stay and even organize a guide for my hikes. That’s the thing with solo travel, it’s going to work out in one way or the other. No pressure. If I decide to start hiking the next day, it’s all up to me. If, on the other hand, I love their fresh juice and decide I’m staying another day, that’s what’s gonna happen! Cuz:
- Last minute changes are okay
- You get to control your own schedule
- Anything else 🙂 how cool is that?
It’s much much easier to stay on budget
Expenses rack up fast when you’re in a group. The liberty to plan your activities also means you get to set and stick to budgets without others interfering. “Small” additions to your budget cease to be negligible soon enough, especially if you’re traveling over a long period.
You’re more open to different social experiences
I did parts of Morocco alone, and that often meant “speaking” Arabic and other local languages. By the time I caught up with my friends my game was legendary hehe. Here’s how a conversation went down after I had a 2 minute conversation with a stranger in Arabic (I was asking for directions):
Setting (now back to where my friend is).
Friend: How did he say we should go?
Wachera: Just follow me; I’ll get us there.
Friend: What exactly did he say?
Wachera: He spoke Arabic.
Friend: Huh! And you understood?
Wachera: I did.
Setting (exactly where we intended to be)
Okay, that conversation probably doesn’t sound as good as it does in my head but you get the drift. Take the plunge. Attempt the unknown. People out there are real; solo travel will help you see that.
You step out of your comfort zone.
Seems we always have to talk about this 🙂 Fear the comfort zone. Flee from it. Nothing good ever comes from there. Solo travel takes you everywhere else but there. Do you fear planning stuff on your own? Plan a trip. Book connecting flights like a pro. When you get to your destination, you will be glad you did.
Oh wow! Just realized I meant to do a post on the things one can do when traveling solo. But at least we now know how we stand to benefit. I think I’ll go pack now, or not. But you should. Stop waiting for others to be ready – that rarely happens. What’s more, you’ll most definitely meet other solo travelers out there.
What do you enjoy most about solo travel?
“If you smile when you’re alone, then you really mean it.”