Sunday, 2 February 2014

The life of a solo-traveller

Travelling by yourself brings on many challenges. It tests your patience, your courage and above all, yourself. There might be moments where you'll feel lonely and vulnerable, where you feel like a stranger.

But I wouldn't trade the memories I've gained from solo-travel for anything in the world. It has allowed me to experience things in a different way, my way. I've gotten to know myself in a whole new way and I'm still getting to know myself. There's no "social noise" around you, you get to make decisions by yourself.



The challenges


Discovering it all again
Moving to a brand new country means you have to create a new social network, learn about what shops are what and how all the different things work. In the beginning everything is new and you might find many things confusing. 

Tip! Make sure you have enough money for the first few weeks - chances are you'll be shopping like a tourist and not a local in the beginning!

That was the thing that pushed me toward leaving Norway the first time when I was 16, to do a three week language course in Oxford. I wanted to experience something new, to learn all those quirky little details. I had learned all there was in Norway. Later in life, when I moved to Wales (UK) to study, I did it all over again. That feeling can sometimes be overwhelming, but believe me when I say this; when you master those things that feeling is simply incredible and I will encourage everybody to do it at least ones in your life.

Lonely traveller
Loneliness can be a big thing, you might feel all alone in a big city or be in a country where no one speaks the same languages as you. You might start to doubt yourself and think about giving up and heading home. But whatever happens, that is the last thing you should do. Dreams aren't easy, the path will be filled with obstacles. Here it's important you take initiative and get involved. There's always like-minded travellers around somewhere and if not, then get involved with the locals. Use sites like Couchsurfing to connect with fellow travellers. Also, check out the post I wrote about homesickness and how to battle it.

Here in New Zealand, I've met people from Couchsurfing, in work and whilst waiting outside school gates (as part of my previous job as au pair). Point is I've met people everywhere and we've become friends. Don't get me wrong, I'm not living in my own little bubble, avoiding human contact, but you can still be free and have friends at the same time.

The benefits

Knowing you
You will start to know yourself, your abilities and your weaknesses in a whole new way. You will be able to make decisions by yourself. Also, you get to decide where to go and what to do.

Over the last few months I've gotten to know myself a lot. Looking back now, an experience I learned a lot from was when I was unemployed and homeless. It scared me, it did. I talked to my mum every other day, telling her how worried I was. But it all worked out in the end. Point is, that that process taught me A LOT. I learned that if you just put your mind to something (however cliche it might sound), it can be done. If that were to happen to me again now, I'd be much more relaxed and wouldn't panic. I'd just "go with the flow".

Freedom
You're free to see what you want and can easily change the scenery should you not be happy with where you are at the moment. Since your life effectively can fit into a suitcase or backpack, you can simply pack your bags and leave. You don't have any long term commitments and can go where the wind takes you.

Tips

  • Meet other people - find fellow travellers or meet the locals
  • Plan, but not too far ahead - Sometimes the best things in life are spontaneous
  • Enjoy the time by yourself - However silly it might sound, get to know yourself