When I first set off on my solo endeavours I was stepping completely into the unknown. Being from such a small town I had never met anyone who had travelled solo before and while all my friends were getting ready to start there new life at university, I was getting ready to dive head first into the big wide world all on my own and I was terrified, to say the least!
I have always been a very introverted person, It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the company of others, but I find that after spending too much time with someone I need to be on my own to “recharge”.
One big misconception with being an introvert is that you must be shy but the two don’t necessarily coincide with each other. For me, I can be a very social person when I want to be but I find it easier to just spent most of my time on my own, chilling at home, taking it easy. But with that, I end up in my head a lot and there was always that one voice that clouded my brain, you know the one that will put fear or doubt in your mind.
A lot of those fears and doubts affected how situations went throughout the day and made the idea of solo travel even more terrifying for me, some of those fears were,
- Catching public transport- In the town where I was from there was only one train line from a small station out in the countryside and one bus that ran twice a day (if you were lucky). But for me, even that made me very anxious and I was always scared I’d end up at the wrong stop, on the wrong bus or something else along those lines.
- Speaking with strangers- I feared to ask locals for directions or ask for a table for one at a restaurant. I feared the idea of hostels and strangers approaching me in the common areas.
- Being Social- I had a bad habit of always turning down or avoiding plans with people because I just found it easier to choose to stay at home and chill by myself instead.
But once I set off on my solo adventures I was forced to have to let a lot of these fears go whether I liked it or not, otherwise, it was time to head back to the comforts of my home and stick to old habits while watching life pass me by and I didn’t want to do that.
Benefits of solo travelling as an introvert
You learn a lot about yourself
When travelling solo you get the chance to ask yourself what you really want to do and see. Time spent travelling with others calls for a lot of compromises so when you are on your own it’s up to you and you only to decide on what you want to do. I learned that although I enjoyed grabbing a beer at the local pub with others, I much prefer spending the day wandering through a museum or getting lost around the area I’m in on my own and just walking for hours on end popping in and out through street lanes and independent shops until I can’t walk no more.
Through this, you begin to become more in touch with your intuition and find yourself choosing activities best suited to your liking.
You meet new friends and find the confidence to speak with strangers more often than none
Travelling solo forces you to communicate with strangers whether it’s asking for directions or speaking with shop owners and over time it starts to become a normality. Once I finally delved into the world of hostels I fell in love with the buzz of each place and it helped boost my confidence immensely when speaking with strangers. Then over time I began to really enjoy speaking with others around me, some of the conversations I have had even inspired me or helped me in many ways. I even found a lot of the time that I was instigating the start of a conversation which never used to be the case for me.
I also became a lot more social, again, thanks to hostels I branched out of my comfort zone, stepped out of my dorm and starting tagging along with the hostel crowds to certain events and activities like ghost tours and beer pong tournaments (I would have never done back at home might I add), and boy did I have loads of fun and even made some lifelong friends along the way. When Travelling with others I find comfort in their company and find it much harder to meet others, it’s not until I’m on my own that the true adventures begin.
You end up meeting plenty of other introverted travellers just like yourself
Along with my last point through meeting friends, you tend to meet other introverted travellers similar to yourself and begin to feel less alone or at least that’s what happened to me! Before leaving on my travels I felt I was crazy for doing what I was doing because I knew no one doing the same. But through meeting others on my adventures with the same anxieties as me going out there and taking on the world I no longer felt so crazy for doing what I was doing but if anything I felt inspired and proud of myself and everyone else facing their fears and doing it all on there own! I also, later on, discovered a group through Facebook called The Solo Female Travel Network along with all its other subgroups and found a community of brave and adventurous girls just like myself taking on the world and through this group, I found inspiration, support and most of all… I felt as though I found my people and no longer felt alone in what I was doing!
You find pleasure in doing things alone and no longer see it as a threat.
Sadly we still live in a society where it is still uncommon for people to do things on there own like eating at a restaurant or visiting the theatre, people tend to question the motive behind it ‘oh was that person stood up’ or ‘they must be a lonely person’ and from that a lot of people fear to do things on there own mainly due to what other people will think. And I was guilty of having some of those thoughts for a long time. But now I find it very empowering and since solo travelling, it has become the norm for me to do these things and I love it!
You grow confidence in the things you weren’t confident in before.
Most importantly I no longer hold onto a lot of those fears and doubts that I had in the past. Once I set off on my solo adventures I was forced to rely completely on myself as opposed to someone else and over time I became a pro at it (if I do say so myself). Instead of fearing what could happen I now catch transport with confidence and am more focused on the excitement of the destination as opposed to the fear of the journey. Doing the things I feared was very hard to begin with, but once I conquered those fears including finally overcoming the dreaded public transport, I began to feel limitless. Although there are things I still worry about doing and some days are most definitely different than others, I hold far more confidence and independence than I ever did before and that’s all thanks to solo travel and it’s only up from here!
“As you travel solo,
being totally responsible for yourself.
It’s inevitable that you will discover,
just how capable you are.”
Solo travel has helped me come out of my shell completely and I learned more about myself in 3 years of travel than I have in my whole two (plus) decades on this earth. That’s not to say that I am no longer my introverted self, I have more or less just found more balance in my life and instead of shutting myself off all the time I find that I am now opening myself up to a lot more opportunities without letting fear get in the way.
Through your travels, you will find ways to satisfy your introverted needs, for me, when I’m really feeling the urge to be alone, like completely alone, I will opt to upgrade to a single room in a hostel or take an off day from exploring and spend a day buried in a travel novel in the nearest library. Whatever works for you, you will figure it out through trial and error and eventually settle into the perfect travel style for you.
Personally, I urge everyone to give solo travel a try even if it is just a small day trip outside of your current town, don’t let the negative voice in your head stop you from experiencing this world, there is so much beauty to be discovered outside those four walls and there is so much potential for you to grow as a person. Solo travel for me has for sure come with its ups and downs but I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything. I’m forever grateful for the experiences I’ve been able to have so far and I can’t wait for the next solo adventure.