There’s no denying that solo travel is on the rise. Searches for travelling alone have surged by 143% in the past three years, according to Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool.
The huge upswing in travellers foregoing group experiences for solitary trips can be attributed to seamless booking processes, readily available information online and the ever-decreasing cost of air travel. With the adventure of solo travel come some deep personal lessons. Here are three things that traveling alone can teach you about yourself.
Perhaps more than anything else, travelling alone teaches you how resilient you are. When you’re on the road, you have no-one else but yourself to look to for support and guidance. Simply the act of travelling itself, whether it be with a partner or a group, is already enough to test your character. But for the solo traveller, being able to adapt to different environments and locations is one of their greatest assets.
When things don’t work out as you’ve planned, you’ll need to be buoyant enough to accept your circumstances and move on to Plan B. If you want to put your resilience to the test, consider walking the famed Camino de Santiago, a vast network of pilgrim routes in south-western Europe.
More than just a sheer physical feat, walking the Camino de Santiago will give you insight into how pilgrims in the middle ages sought spiritual enlightenment. With distances of up to 700km, this tour will allow you to regain an appreciation for slow, unhurried living. Along the way, you’ll also learn how resilient you are, both mentally and physically. Solo travel requires you to be resourceful and in this way, shows you that you’re able to bounce back from any obstacle that life throws at you.
If ever you need an ego check, simply take a solo trip. When you think you’ve mastered everything about travel, there is nothing more humbling than having to negotiate an encounter with someone who doesn’t speak a word of your language. It’s experiences like these that can teach us humility and respect for other cultures.
One of the best ways to experience this is by taking a cross-country cycling expedition through South Korea. The country contains more than 1700km of sprawling bike tracks. It’s generally easiest to rent a bike in a big city, then take a bus to your starting point. You can also stamp your cycling passport at the red telephone booths, and have something to remember the trip by. The 4 Rivers Project, as it is known, is just six years old and is still not a popular tourist attraction. The most popular routes are between larger cities like Seoul, Busan and Daegu. Cycle through gorgeous Korean countryside and experience true Korean hospitality from the locals, while camping alongside the trail in designated rest areas, or finding accommodation at local motels.
While being armed for every possible situation is the best way to approach solo travel, adopting a humble attitude to your journey will enrich your travel experience so much more.
There’s no doubt that solo travel is particularly liberating. There’s something about being unchained and unencumbered that makes traveling alone such a tempting prospect. One of the best ways to experience the freedom that comes with solo travel is by finding solitude in the most unexpected of places. If you truly want to feel what it’s like to be completely free from distractions, then you’re best off getting down to South Goa, India. Here you can take in the serene beaches while enjoying undisturbed golden sunsets.
Rent a scooter and feel the wind in your hair as your whiz through the Indian countryside, passing local farmers, slowing down for the cattle crossing the road and greeting the beaming faces of excited children.
This is the true power of solo travel; finding the magic in these special moments.
With experience comes the wisdom to make decisions based on what we know to be true. And with this wisdom comes liberation. Diving head-first into a country’s culture by experiencing everything that it has to offer is an enlightening affair that leaves you appreciative not just of what you’ve learned, but of your own customs and traditions, too.
When you embark on a solo expedition, you have the opportunity to set your spirit free and charter your own course. It’s one of the greatest character-building experiences that you could ever undertake and one which will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible.