I like to think of myself as someone who is always interested in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Is this a personality flaw or personality strength? I guess it depends on the outcome.
Reflecting on the times I have been faced with the question of staying in a safe, comfortable situation vs. branching out to a new, slightly terrifying experience gives me the confidence to continue pushing my boundaries.
I am terrified of open water. Not like middle of the ocean open water, either. I’m talking about just past the point where I can no longer touch the bottom. I’m not even sure that I could call that “open water”. It’s not that I can’t swim, but actually I’m terrified of what is lurking in the depths of said bottom. Such as a shark.
When I went to Hawaii a few summers ago, I was terrified of snorkeling. I know, ridiculous. Instead of pushing myself, I went back and sat on the shore.
When I went to Mexico last year, I was faced with a similar situation. I could swim out way above my head and explore some of the reefs, with tons of beautiful fish, sea turtles and rays or I could stay in my comfort zone and sit on the shore again.
It took a lot of convincing, from myself and travel partner, but I just tried to not think about how uncomfortable I felt and just focus on what I could get from the experience. I ended up staying out in the water for an hour, having to be dragged in when my travel partner was too tired. It was one of my favorite life experiences to date. Looking back, that experience has really given me the drive and confidence to continue pushing myself past the comfort limits.
This has me thinking about another activity that makes me feel slightly apprehensive: solo travel. Recently, there has been a lot written about the benefits of solo travel, and why one should definitely experience it at some point in their lives.
So this got me to thinking: what about traveling solo keeps sticking in my mind?
- The chance to get to know myself better
Traveling with friends is great. You build shared experiences that can last a lifetime and increase your depth of your relationships to a whole other level. What if you could also do that with the relationship with yourself?
- Develop my own itinerary
I love planning trips. It’s so exciting to look at all the potential places to visit and things to do. While I haven’t had any significant itinerary conflicts with travel companions, it would be really interesting to just be able to go exactly where I want, when I want.
- Save money
I never like to be the one to say we can’t do something because it costs too much money. Solo travel takes this completely out of the equation. If I want to spend two euros on lunch, fine, if I want to spend 20, that’s okay too.
- Make new friends
Traveling with a group gives the safety blanket of never needing to branch out and meet new people (though the trips I’ve been on we tend to do this anyways). Being an English speaker already gives me an advantage to interact with others, but if I could try to meet some locals in Spanish? Even better! Plus, if you are staying at hostels, there are always lots of people hanging out in the bar or lounge areas, giving the perfect opportunity to share new experiences!
- Create a sense of empowerment
Overcoming a fear of traveling solo will just make me feel more confident and empowered in the end. This can give me even more motivation to continue facing any life fears head on.
For those who have traveled solo, what have your experiences been? Can you add to this list of solo travel benefits?