4 Harsh Aspects of Solo Travelling

What I learned backpacking solo for 5 months

Photo by the author, with the author!

They say travelling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. Although it is a point of view I agree with, I believe it lacks of something crucial: it adds value to your life only if you are open to be enriched by it. The same way someone can learn a new concept or develop a new idea only if there is an open mentality towards change, travelling can only enrich you if you are willing to embrace the experience. Expecting that the simple action of travelling halfway around the world will magically turn you into the best version of yourself, is, in my humble opinion, the best way for it to not happen: expectations are the greatest killers of any sort of experience, including travelling. Sure, it will certainly force you to get out of your shell, but the experience might risk to become traumatic rather than enlightening, if approached with the wrong spirit.

As the Roman philosopher Seneca said

“All this hurrying from place to place won’t bring you any relief, for you’re traveling in the company of your own emotions, followed by your troubles all the way.” — Lucius Anneus Seneca

just because you are changing the place where you are with your body, it doesn’t mean you are also shifting from where you are in your mind.

Well, I can assure that what you read before was not the way I approached my first solo travel, but I soon realized that it was going to be the first lesson I would have learned from it. The others, followed as the days went by.

1. You will judge a book by its cover…and regret it

Would you pick up a (male) hitchhiker with a huge backpack, overly hairy and half covered in mud under a heavy rainfall? I have to admit that I would have not picked myself up, if I had been the young lady (with a baby in the back seat of the car) who doubled back and stopped to give me a lift and spare me 15 km of walking under the rain. That was my very first experience as a hitchhiker, and I was expecting anyone, literally anyone else to pick me up, but the person who did it.

2. You will wish you had never left home

Sometimes things will not go as planned. You will miss a bus, meet a heavily snoring roommate in the hostel, or stab yourself trying to open your canned dinner (yes, it hurt). You will regret the day you decided to leave home. Was it even that bad where I was? Why would I even want to visit this place anyway? These thoughts will eventually come, when the frustration and tiredness of entires days spent walking will pile up. And it is ok. The travelling adventures shown on social media, where everything seems to run so smoothly, it is pretty deceiving. Truth is, that it’s not always as idylliac as it is depicted on Instagram, and it shouldn’t.

“Every traveller has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering”. — Charles Dickens

3. You will master decision making

When you are travelling solo, you will have to make tons of decisions, and you will have to make them alone. Weighting the pros and cons of nearly any situation you will find yourself to be in, is gonna ben your full-time job. Whether it is a matter of deciding what to cut out and keep in, for your (low) daily budget expenses or just what to visit next along the way, it is entirely up to you. It sounds frightening and it actually is at the beginning, but overtime uneasiness and anxiety will be replaced by an overwhelming sense of freedom.

“The decision is your own voice, an opinion is the echo of someone else’s voice.” ― Amit Kalantri

4. Chances are, you will call home frequently

Solo travelling can be lonely…or not. It is very much up to your personality type and the willingness you have to get to know the locals or fellow travellers along the way. One thing is sure though: after 7 days that the only sound coming out of your mouth has been “Excuse-me, am I on the right bus please?”, you will become a master in socializing. After 5 months of backpacking on my own, I felt qualified enough, out of direct experience, to open a business in social interaction coaching! To anyone struggling with shyness, like I used to, you won’t believe how easy and automatic it will get to come up with an ice-breaking conversation topic with anyone, in any place, at any time.

Although I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone willing to crush the limits of his comfort zone, solo travelling is not always a bed of roses as we see on social media: bear it mind if you are planning of venturing yourself on the road.

Agronomist and traveller. Passionate about sustainability and philosophy. Admin of blog https://agrisustainia.wordpress.com/

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