LESSONS I LEARNT WHILE TRAVELING ALONE
There is probably a reason why traveling alone is often seen as a symbol of freedom. There is also a reason why it is seen as a means to heal, and people who often go for solo trips define it as a religious and spiritual experience. It is undoubtedly unique.
When I write about traveling, I don’t just mean packing my bags and moving across the country or to a new country, but I also mean the kind when you are just traveling alone, even if it is to a small corner of your city. It is scary at first, but here is a truth that I have found out while I was traveling alone—you are never really alone while you are traveling alone. I am fond of it because to me, it is empowering and helps me connect with myself whenever I need to do so, even if it is just a stroll in a park around the corner.
I have had some liberating experiences in my traveling ventures alone, and here are the three life lessons that I hold closest to my heart.
1. You can be whoever you want to.
I was 18 and visiting my first country alone- Vietnam. By the end of my first day there, it began to hit me- no one here knows who I am. And that I had the opportunity to be a completely different person out there. I began to realize that people I meet have no expectations from me which is what made being different so believable. Not just different, but I could be anyone. I could live some amazing new experiences without seeking company and at the same time get to know myself better, or I could just walk out of my residence into the local market and befriend any stranger. In my own country, I would have given this a lot of thought and probably would have hesitated at first. But when I lived this experience out there, it was extremely real. When I came back to my city, I had become so used to this mindset that I couldn’t help but try to live it in everything that I do.
2. It is okay to ask for help.
Probably, one of the most common questions that everyone has, not just while traveling alone but also while living through some challenging moments is- “Is it okay to ask for help? Can this person be trusted?” Traveling alone helped me answer this simple question with ‘Of course, it is okay!’ Asking for support always seemed funny to me, but every time that I have traveled alone, it is the only method which has kept enriching my experiences. Directions, food, language, solutions- I might have hesitated at first to ask for answers but after a certain point of time it seemed perfectly normal and I was extremely comfortable. I learnt that asking for help also shaped me into being a helpful person myself.
3. Learn something every single day.
Time seemed to be traveling faster than me, and it was when I made this observation that it occurred to me that I should be learning something new every day. I tried to engage in new experiences as much as I could because there was a huge possibility I would never be at the same place with the same set of people around me, again. There was so much to learn from each one of them. I was learning how to be ruled by instinct. My curiosity was rarely satisfied and I found myself looking for answers about possibly everything around me. I could learn new things simply by just paying attention and this experience was the one I wanted to keep living, even when I was just sitting in my bedroom.
If you have traveled alone and lived these experiences, I am sure you would have been able to connect with them and keep reminding yourself about living them every day. However, if you happen to be someone who has never really ventured alone, I’d suggest you live one such experience as soon as you can and make the most out of it.