Five Lessons I Learnt from Solo Travel

Five Lessons I Learnt from Solo Travel

Eight hours a day, five days a week I get paid to be a travel agent and I have been for the past three months. On a day-to-day basis it’s great, but you occasionally get days that are better than others. I have four passions in particular relating to my job in the travel industry and those are…

  1. Assisting solo travellers
  2. Assisting young adult travellers
  3. Assisting travellers who are interested in group travel
  4. Assisting travellers who are visiting the European region

During my second month I had an appointment with a twenty-two year old girl and her Mum. I had spoken to her Mum before our appointment and had learnt that her daughter wanted to travel solo around Europe but was a little nervous to do so. I had spoken to her Mum about my solo escapades around Europe previously, so my job was to basically chat to her daughter and convince her to be confident enough within herself to embrace the trip of a lifetime.

I had hit the jackpot. This customer was a young adult who wanted to do some solo travel as well as some group travel all around Europe; all four of my passions were qualified and I was so excited to plan this incredible holiday for this young women.

I know European Contiki’s like the back of my hand, so I spat out every piece of information I could about every aspect of her trip; itinerary, money, ground transportation, airlines, inclusions and exclusions, insurance, experiences… the lot! I jumped on my Instagram and was showing this girl all my photos; she must have thought I was literally insane, but I was successful in convincing her to say yes and there she was booking in a solo euro-trip with a splash of group travel. I was so completely happy for her and she was incredibly excited.

Chatting about my experiences whilst travelling solo on that particular day and seeing the reaction someone else was having from my presence and stories made me realise just how passionate I was about the whole concept of solo travel. On that note, I’ve comprised a list of lessons I have learnt from solo travel, both the beautiful and the ugly. Enjoy!

I learnt… that it’s okay to be emotional
Basically, crying in public is acceptable; I did a whole lot of it. I cried after saying goodbye to my family in Brisbane whilst walking through airport security and I literally ran onto a bus full of people in tears to say one final goodbye to a good friend of mine in Amsterdam. My fare share of emotional breakdowns have been very common in the past year, but I no longer try to hide it. Having a good cry and being vulnerable every once in a while is healthy.

I learnt.. to appreciate the life I have been given
Clear as day I remember looking out the window of a bus whilst travelling through the Scottish Highlands. It hit me that I was actually living what I had been dreaming about for the past couple of years. I can remember looking out and passing mountains upon mountains of snow-capped ranges decorated with the greenest grass with little cottages appearing every once in a while and thinking to myself ‘I am so blessed’. I realised how lucky I am to have the money, the support system and the strength within myself to be doing what I was doing; because unfortunately some people never have the chance.

I learnt… my limits
Whilst I am for the most part willing to try anything, I also have a boundary that I didn’t know the extent of until I travelled alone. I recall a couple of instances where I was invited to do something that I had never been invited to do before that my being just didn’t agree with. It was like my body and mind automatically put up barriers cautioning me to either give this some thought or not to do it altogether. When you’re 16,000 kilometres from home, alone, in a completely new situation, you tend to learn how far you can stretch your limits before enough is enough.

I learnt… how to step out of my comfort zone
I’m naturally an introvert, so stepping out of my comfort zone is difficult, but when travelling I learnt to listen to your heart over your mind. Why? Your mind is usually programmed to emit a response that you would typically make in everyday life; for example, no way in the world would I willingly eat a snail during my everyday life. Although, when travelling, in order to have a rich experience that you will forever remember sometimes you need to ignore that ‘everyday life’ response that your mind automatically projects; one way to do so, is to follow your heart. When I was in France my heart told me to eat the snail because it’s an outlet to that rich, cultural experience I want to have when in France, so I did, and I regret nothing. Want to step out of your comfort zone? Easy. Listen to your heart.

I learnt… that it’s okay not to follow the crowd 
Whilst travelling around the United Kingdom I met a friend that I would later meet up again with in two months time in Amsterdam. I caught a tram into the city centre with her and she informed me that she wouldn’t be catching it back with me as she had plans with others. I responded with something along the lines of ‘yeah, that’s fine’.

As we were sitting on a tram heading into Amsterdam City Centre she told me that I had changed since she last saw me in the UK. She told me that I went from this girl who relied on the plans of others, to this women who didn’t mind risking getting a little lost whilst taking the tram back to my hotel alone. She told me that I had basically come into my own within two months of solo travel, and this meant the world to me. When travelling alone it is important to do what you want to do and not to always follow the crowd. After all, it is your life and your experiences so embrace being alone and doing what you want because it gives you the self-sufficiency to be independent, and that is a life long skill that not many people truely have.

I learnt many other lessons during solo travel that I haven’t gone into much detail about, such as budgeting, the fundamentals of small talk, navigating a new city, and adapting to other cultures for example, but I think the above five are the closest to my heart.

If you ever get the chance go travelling solo; it’s an experience that I think everyone should have. You’ll not only learn so much about the world, but you’ll also learn so much about yourself. Your knowledge about yourself and other cultures will continually expand, and to me, that’s one of the most important components of life.

Thank you for reading,
Rac. xx

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