Making a Decision to Solo Travel for Yourself
Traveling alone could be the most liberating experience and decision you make for yourself. Each solo trip has revealed me to myself in one way or another. Each time I have been guided to a better understanding of myself and a heightened sense of self awareness. Whether it is a weekend camping alone in Maine, a week in Rwanda or 90 days in Europe. Solo travel forces you to live with yourself in a way that you can’t when you are at home. Your insecurities are revealed to you in a way that is undeniable.
Justifying your decision to solo travel can be challenging. I personally struggle with opinions of others if it’s someone I respect. Their opinion may be a truth, but I’m learning that does not mean it’s my truth. My truth revolves around living an authentic life on my terms, on my own time frame, practicing my moral philosophies. Their doubts may lead you to wonder whether this is the right thing to do. Remember, life experiences shape ones world view, fears, values, lifestyle choices and their views can be projected as if they should be yours. They are not yours. On the flip side, maybe there have been times where you have been guilty of doing that to another.
Teachable moment: Don’t.
Making this decision to travel (or any decision for that matter) for yourself alone is setting you on a path for self-discovery. Take a chance on yourself. There is no failing in this endeavor, just evolving and growing your sense of self, purpose and belonging. If your choice feels right, (as mine did) then it is right (for you)! Trust yourself.
Traveling Through Life with Yourself
Whether you are single, married, in a relationship or its complicated. When deciding to embark on solo travel you learn a great deal about who you are, what you want, how strong you are and what you are capable of. You can say “I know who I am”, but you don’t know what you don’t know. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror, and be truly content and happy with who you are. Many people lie to themselves, and that’s why so many are unhappy.
Are you staying in a relationship that you know in our heart is not where you belong? Are you staying on a career path when inside you know you don’t feel a sense of purpose? Waiting for the weekend is not happiness. Yes, you have obligations and responsibilities, but what you really have is societal expectations. Not feeling fulfilled in any certain aspect in your life? You owe it to yourself to do something about it.
Traveling alone can be a roller coaster, especially if you have emotional and mental health issues, but I promise you come out on the other end emotionally and mentally empowered. It is not a decision to be frightened of, but keep in mind solo travel can be very challenging because you have to not only depend solely on yourself, but you have to be with yourself. We forget that the most important relationship that we must value is the one that we have with ourselves. Professional, personal, and romantic relationships are correlated with this relationship. Self-love comes before true love.
The Facts of the Matter
Depression doesn’t discriminate, neither does anxiety. The sad fact is that depression is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year old’s resulting in suicide. Think of that statistic for a moment, people feeling so stuck, hopeless, and lost with who they are and where they belong that they feel the only way out is to end their life.
This isn’t just about depression. It could be anxiety, it could be addiction, alcoholism sexual assault, verbal, physical, and financial abuse. Demons come in many shapes or forms. If you deny and avoid your problems, you are only setting yourself up for failure. Your time is valuable so don’t waste it pretending to be something you are not.
Most people who have depression are not diagnosed, and many don’t seek proper help to work through it. The World Health Organization states that “Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is the major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” Even those who “have nothing to worry about” and “have everything” can suffer severely from depression, and no; it’s not as easy as “think happy thoughts”, “just go out and have fun”.
It’s safe to say that many of the people in the world have issues. If you are the person who grew up in a perfect family, with no hiccups along the way then you should be grateful. Reality is that everyone has a story and everyone has things to work through and overcome. It doesn’t work that way.
Why traveling alone can be mentally & emotionally scary.
I have grown up with depression, and it was a long-haul journey to surviving myself. On the outside, you see this spirited, independent, old soul with a burning passion for life, with her non-conformist philosophies. What you don’t see is the amount of draining energy I put in almost every day to stay present and self-aware.
Forget feeling alone, actually being alone is something that a lot of people struggle with. Whether they have admitted it to themselves or not being alone can be extremely frightening for some. Many people who are afraid of being alone with themselves feel the need to constantly surround themselves with friends, social gatherings and events to keep themselves occupied and distracted so they don’t have to deal with the thoughts and feelings that are raw, real and painful. Even filling the void of jumping from one relationship to the next without actually investing in your relationship with yourself.
When you are traveling alone there is nowhere else to hide, all you have is yourself. Maybe your first day you won’t know what to do with yourself because you feel so lost and alone; and so you sit there and you may cry for an entire afternoon, because you are struggling with your thoughts. You will become upset with yourself because you are across the world, thrown into a vibrant culture that is yours to explore how you wish, the world at your fingertips, and here you are, sitting in your sorrow with your darkness getting ready to Netflix your thoughts away.
Does this sound familiar?
My solo trips have been the best therapy in really learning how to take care of myself, by myself for myself. If I told you it was an easy journey, I would be lying to you. It took me years of digging deep to literally face the core of my struggle. When your demons appear you ultimately decide who wins. We know that we lose hours, so there is no becoming discouraged in these moments.
Here are some tips that have helped me get out of a bad head space:
- Write and reflect in a journal; really try to identify the pain.
- Try your best to put it into words
- Actually let yourself feel the pain, it’s the only way to work through it.
- Find a park nearby that you can go sit at to observe the life around you
- Spend the day exploring a local treasure walking around the grounds, even if you are emotional, and fighting your thoughts to stay present, push yourself.
- Make audio videos on your phone to get what is on your mind out of your head space and energy
Benefits of Facing Your Demons During Solo Travel
I’ve put the time into fighting my demons that bait my mind in attempt to dim the true essence of who I am; you will win. Don’t fear the pain, it hurts, it physically hurts, but it’s the only way out. Learn to love your darkness, learn to accept that it is a part of who you are and remind yourself that there is beauty in every ugly
When you get through, you pick yourself up, get dressed, walk out the door and go to the local art market in town extremely present and grateful with an open mind and heart ready to receive and experience all the universe has coming your way.
You are traveling through life, so whether you are solo traveling a road trip to a near by town or across the world please remember that this is your life, and your journey alone, no one can go through it for you, so when you go leave behind the judgement and misunderstandings of others and most importantly of yours.
Solo Travel will help you build the most amazing relationship with yourself. Let yourself feel the darkness so the light can shine through. I did what I did so that I can live the authentic life I deserve. All so I can be in a place where I am mentally, emotionally and physically capable of receiving and giving and all the selfless love I have to give and am deserving of. You are deserving of this love just as much as me, and if I told you that the only person stopping you was yourself would you believe me?