I still remember exactly how it felt as I sat there at my computer six years ago, looking at flights to Bangkok for the hundredth time, hesitating just as I had so many times before.
I was scared of the unknowns. Would I be safe? Would I be lonely? Would I be able to travel alone? Did I have what it takes?
Something in me finally said, “do it,” so I bought the ticket and felt the rush of adrenaline that I’d been holding back course through me. I’d be going to the other side of the world alone, and I was terrified.
A few months later I laughed at myself. I was having so much fun, on cloud nine and meeting new people all the time. I wished so much that I’d had less fear and more trust in myself and the world. Since then I’ve traveled alone to every continent and learned a lot along the way. These are 25 of the things I wish I knew before I decided to travel solo:
1. There’s no big difference between those who travel alone and those who wish they could. The differentiator is the decision to just do it.
2. There may never be a moment when you feel 100% ready to do it. At some point you’ve got to just leap.
3. Walking with one’s head up and speaking with confidence goes an incredibly long way.
4. And it keeps getting easier with each passing day.
5. A smile and friendly demeanor go so incredibly far. Farther than I ever imagined. So many doors open when you’re nice.
6. People take more interest in helping women and keeping us safe especially when we’re alone.
7. Of course there are bad people everywhere in the world, but there are a lot more good people.
8. Things will go wrong and you’ll look back on them with a smile and remember them fondly anyway.
9. When you leave the places that tested you the most, you might find that you actually miss the chaos.
10. Eventually things that are confusing at first like ATMs and taxis will become obvious, sleeping under a mosquito net will become comfortable, and you’ll meet concepts like ‘Africa time’ with a shrug and smile. Solo travelers level up in knowledge and skills quickly.
11. Whether you make room for it or not, whether you anticipate it or have no clue, serendipity will work its way into your plans in the cleverest ways.
12. Plans are just ideas that evolve for the better anyways. It’s best to just go with it.
13. The goal is not to escape our problems, but rather to replace the old ones with newer, better ones.
14. You will face your demons on the road too and if you let yourself, you’ll find ways to grow and move onwards and upwards.
15. Best make peace with eating foods with no discernible name and sweating more than usual. It’s worth it.
16. There will be a marked increase in the number of hellos, and also in the number of goodbyes.
17. The best thing you can be as a traveler is a good listener.
18. It’s not about moving quickly through to collect more flags or increase the country count. It’s about getting to know a place so deeply, to make connections so profound, that each place takes a little piece of you and gives a piece back in return.
19. No expectations will set you up for perpetual moments of delight.
20. High expectations only leave room for them to be met or worse, not.
21. Being off the grid, having internet that is too slow to load anything, and disconnecting entirely from time to time is a precious gift to be savored.
22. The fewer people ‘get’ our lifestyle choices the better we’re doing.
23. The end goal does not have to be settling down. It can be making great art, becoming our own bosses, and charting our own course in the spotless future.
24. Not reading the news, forgetting where your shoes are because you’ve been barefoot for so long, and spending most of your time in a hammock is bliss.
25. It will be a gift to and even a responsibility to show the world by example that women are strong and capable on our own. I have that opportunity and I will embrace it.
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