Many of us are terrified of solo travel. In American culture it's not particularly encouraged and if you're a women even less so. Now, there are countless blogs and books dedicated to changing this norm and empowering people (especially women) to travel by themselves, and yes I love these, but this post isn't exactly that. I am here to just be real with you.
Yes, solo travel is one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had in my life. It's empowering, liberating, fun and gives you the kind of growth you can't experience in many other ways in life. I can easily highlight all the shinny parts of travels, and if you look at my Instagram you'd think I am nothing but blissed out on the beach doing yoga morning to night. Yes - all of that is part of it, but there is also a part that is easy not to talk about, and that is -
if you travel by yourself be prepared to have moments of loneliness. But it's perfectly okay, and actually kind of amazing.
When you travel alone, especially for extended periods of time, you will be shocked how many people you meet along the way. How many instant soulmates, kindred spirits and best friends you may or may not ever see again. The experience of these kinds of connections are so powerful because it allows you to really have gratitude for the beauty of impermanence - one day your with them and one day your not. But in-between your travels and these connections, it's very likely you will get some kind of homesick. You might begin to miss your friends, you're favorite juice bar, or just the ability to drive a car, read the signs and know where you are going. You might begin to long for a sense of "home" - I believe this feeling is what we most commonly identify as loneliness. We are missing the familiar, a sense of security or certain comforts. Now, while loneliness is usually considered a painful emotion, and we are taught to avoid painful emotions by all means necessary, it's actually a really beautiful thing to embrace.
If you get the sensation of loneliness, to me, it's a sign that you get to (or need to) work on your relationship with yourself. Again, something we are also not usually encouraged to do. And where else better to get to know yourself then in the ricefeilds of Bali or hiking in Peru? One of the most powerful things I have gained from traveling by myself is getting to know me. I had moments where I felt lonely or lost, and just craving a sense of feeling grounded. I was in India, it was pouring down rain, I'd move around to 3 different hostels in a week - I missed my friends and all I wanted to do was just watch a movie on my couch with my dog. But I sat with it and
instead of feeling debilitated by this sensation of loneliness, I had the opportunity to become grounded or feel "at home" within myself.
I realized the more I leaned into this uncomfortable feeling of loneliness, the more I felt my heart expanding. I felt my relationship with myself deepen in ways it never had before because I was so easily distracted by work, boyfriends, social events - whatever. So with all these external things stripped away, I realized right now, in this moment, I was all I had. Instead of being scared by this thought, I decided to have immense gratitude. One of my teachers back home once said that
"You are the only person that goes on the whole journey of life with you - so you better learn how to hold your own hand". When you travel by yourself, you have no other option but to hold your own hand.
If you get lonely or feel lost, you have to smile at it. Smile at the feeling of loneliness and see it as an opportunity to get to know you, trust me your soul is crying for it.
So yes, solo travel absolutely has its moments of loneliness - but it's also probably one of the most rewarding parts of it.