- 1. I’m pretty damned good at getting lost.
- 2. The world is not as scary as people think.
- 3. I love to experience other cultures and ways of life.
- 4. Always travel light.
- 5. Most people in the world are kind and honest.
- 6. International flights are way more fun than domestic flights.
- 7. The world is a really beautiful place.
For many years in the world of work, I travelled around Australia as a business traveller. Most times eating and staying alone in each of our capital cities. During this time people would comment on how glamorous my life seemed, but business travel is not for everyone. After a while planes seem like crowded buses and having to catch early morning flights can leave you with more than just bags under your eyes. What my time in the air, sleeping in different places and eating alone did do was prepare me for a decade of solo international travel.
There are many things one learns when venturing out into the big wide world on their own. Many solo travellers will tell you tales of what they found out about themselves on their adventures. Recently, I had to renew my passport. I couldn’t believe it had been ten years since I got my last one. Ten years! Where does time go? As I looked back at the stamps inside my old passport, it got me thinking about not only the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met and the adventures I’d had, but also about what a decade of solo travel to different countries had taught me. Here’s 7 things I’ve learnt that stand out for me:
1. I’m pretty damned good at getting lost.
Ever since I was a small child I have been good at getting lost. As a child this would often get me into all sorts of mischief. It seemed that my second home was the local police station where the police would sit me up on the front counter and feed me lollies and ice blocks until my mother could come to collect me. Now, getting lost is my most favourite thing to do in any destination. I know this may sound weird, but getting lost helps you find the best things to do and sights to see. Over the years getting lost has enabled me to see things that other travellers may not, taught me to fend for myself and to rely on the kindness of strangers. It’s also taught me the skills of navigation and sense of direction.
2. The world is not as scary as people think.
In today’s world, it would seem that wherever you are travelling to someone thinks it’s a scary place and they will tell you. Often people are frightened of things that seem different. In my 10 years as a solo female traveller, I’ve learned that the world is not as scary as people think. Of course wherever you go in the world as a solo traveller, you do need to keep your wits about you just like you would at home.
3. I love to experience other cultures and ways of life.
10 years of solo travel has shown me that I love to see how others live and experience their day to day. More than anything, I think that this is what has made me addicted to travel. Although we all share a common human experience, we often live and work in different ways.
4. Always travel light.
Travelling on your own it’s up to you to carry your own bags. As the years roll by, I’ve found that this becomes harder and harder. I’ve learned to travel as light as I can and to just say no to that just in case piece of clothing I’m tempted to put in my pack. Wheels on my backpack have become my saviour.
5. Most people in the world are kind and honest.
As a solo traveller you get to meet many people. You also at times need to rely on others. Over the years, I’ve learned that most people are genuine, kind and honest. I’ve learned to trust my gut instincts when it comes to people. This is not to say that you should put all your trust in strangers, and if you do get an uneasy feeling that something isn’t right, you need to go with that feeling.
6. International flights are way more fun than domestic flights.
As I mentioned before, in my business life I travelled for work quite a bit. Although I love to fly, domestic flights become a chore after a while. After 10 years of solo travel, I can still say that the whole experience of an international flight is still exciting. For me it’s the knowledge that when the plane lands that I’ll be in another country that makes international flights the most fun of all. But hey, I’m one of those flyers that can sleep throughout a flight. I don’t mind an early start for these flights. I love the feeling of arriving at the airport, checking in, looking around, boarding the plane and of course being able to sip on champagne because hey its wine time somewhere in the world isn’t it.
7. The world is a really beautiful place.
We get so used to living in our own surrounds that sometimes we forget to really take in the world for its beauty. No matter where I wander, I’ve learned to take in the beauty of the natural world. There’s nothing like experiencing different countries for their unique environment, wild life and flora. Although I’ve always been one to try to minimise my impact on the environment, it’s been travel that has really opened my eyes up to how we need to take better care of the planet we live in. I cannot count the number of times that I have been awe inspired by the beauty of different places in the world.
Taking the time to learn about myself and others as a solo traveller over the past decade, has enriched my life and been the chance to reinforce my personal value system. I’m looking forward to the next ten years of travel with my brand new passport in hand.
What will you learn on your travels?