As I write this latest Blog post I am sitting in a harbour side bar in the port town of Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, also known as the gateway to the Komodo Islands. The view across the flotilla of pirate ship shaped boats and out to the famed dragon dwelling Islands in the distance is spectacular and I feel incredibly content as I sit here with a refreshingly cold Bintang in my hand.
I realise that I am more blessed than most when it comes to experiencing these kind of moments. I have always loved to travel and have been lucky enough to visit many places across the world due to my time working for Virgin Atlantic and thanks to my continued passion for adventure, but it has only been since I turned the age of 30 that I have really embraced travelling solo and started to enjoy it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have had some unbelievably good trips with friends over the last few years and travelling as group certainly has it’s advantages. Hotel and transport costs are vastly reduced and there is always someone on hand to take your picture (vain yes I know but trying to capture that perfect moment with just a selfie stick or camera tripod can be very frustrating at times).
My friends are always welcome to come on any of my adventures. I often invite them but it is very rare that any of them come along. If they did decide to come I wouldn’t be upset or offended if they wanted to do different things to me as I normally have a rough plan set out of what I want to do or where I want to go and I always make it clear to them that I won’t be changing my plans to accommodate them. Essentially it is my way or the high way. Sounds selfish right?
That is where travelling on your own is different. And it makes you different.
It takes a certain type of person to travel solo. It is certainly not for everyone but I urge everyone to experience it at least once during their life time. And the more you do it, the more it changes you….
It totally ruins small talk……
I don’t want to know ‘what’s up’ or discuss the weather. I want to talk about life, death and everything in between. During my travels I have seen humanity at its absolute best and absolute worst. I have seen poverty and ridiculous opulence. I have a lot to talk about but I would rather not speak at all than listen to idle chatter and some people find that unnerving. Unfortunately I am terrible at hiding my feelings and if I’m bored during a conversation I can’t help but switch off.
It makes you crave alone time and realise that silence is golden.…..
The more I travel solo the more of a loner I have become. I much prefer to spend time on my own then arrange endless plans with people who I am ‘acquainted with.’ Truth be told, social gatherings often cause me great anxiety and I am much happier with small groups or better still, with my own company. Of course I will always make the effort to spend time with those family and friends who are dear to me, especially the ones who put up with me being off radar for weeks at time, but I have learnt to say no to things if I feel that it is a waste of my precious time.
You understand that material things don’t matter…..
I don’t own a home, I don’t own a car, I don’t own designer clothes, shoes and bags. And I am ok with that. For a long time I have battled with the idea that society expects me to be buying a house or trade my trusted bike in for a car but it just isn’t what I want. I don’t want to be tied in to something. In fact, my belongings can probably fit in to about 3 large suitcases and honestly it is SO REFRESHING! The up side of this nomadic life is having money in the bank that enables me to do the travelling that I do. People often moan at me ‘oh how are you affording another trip’…..and it’s simple, I don’t waste my money on materialistic things.
You become fiercely opinionated…..
I can not help but speak my mind. Especially if someone annoys me or has upset me. Most of my friends will say I am outspoken but I have learnt that it does not pay to be a wallflower, especially when travelling solo. But equally I will always respect and listen to other people’s opinions too.
You don’t settle (or comprise for that matter 😂)…..
Now this is the deal breaker when travelling solo. When taking a solo trip there is no-one to compromise with. You can do exactly what you want, when you want. And it often transfer this in to my personal life when I am at home. I have learnt that saying no is OK.
You let go of your inhibitions and your confidence improves…..
Whether talking to a complete stranger or taking a trip on your own – then more you do it the more you will be at ease with it. Things that initially felt daunting to me now make me feel empowered.
You become incredibly independent, a trait many find intimidating…..
I am probably too independent for my own good. I haven done some pretty crazy things in my life such as hiring a car and driving myself from the north to the south of Jordan ON MY OWN. Being able to navigate a foreign country on your own will certainly bring out the best in you and the more I travel solo the more I realise just how capable am. This is something I always try to remember if I am having a bad day at home when things don’t seem to be going my way.
You are always longing for Wanderlust or seeking the next adventure…..
This makes the idea of routine or settling down seem like an impossible option to me. The majority of my friends are happily married and settled with children but I always just seem to have itchy feet and the idea of not having the next adventure booked is enough to send sheer panic through me. Fortunately my diary is currently jam packed with a whole host of crazy adventures ranging from a Snowdon climb to a 5 week trip to India.
So take me as you find me. I am aware that my lifestyle is not everyone’s cup of tea but I am extremely thankful for the opportunities and experiences that I have had and how they have made me in to the person I have become today and I wouldn’t change a god damn thing!