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Solo Travelling: Why everyone should do it at least once

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Lifestyle editor Aimie Gater shares why solo travelling should be at the top of your list this summer

Booking a one-way flight to France and making plans to city-hop across Europe was the last thing my friends would have expected me to do. Doing it alone was another thing altogether. Like many others who had felt isolated during the pandemic, as soon as it was over, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was travel – to get out and see the world.

I hopped on a coach through the Eurotunnel in June 2022 and didn’t look back. This impulsive decision was one of the best I’ve ever made, leading me to excitedly explore new cultures and cities. For the first time, I was solely responsible for my safety and comfort. My happiness was completely in my own hands.

Here’s a list of reasons why I think everyone should solo travel at least once.

1. You become more independent

The best thing to come out of my solo travelling was how independent I became in every aspect of my life. Even though I still enjoy going on holidays with my partner or friends, my time spent travelling solo made me realise that I don’t need to rely on others. Every time I chose to try a dish I had never heard of, stay in one evening, or even book a coach to the next city at the last minute, I knew the decision was ultimately mine. I had that freedom to choose. I became more confident as I was put in situations where I had to step forward and introduce myself to new people. The confidence I gained from travelling led me to pursue my Masters degree.

2. It gives you opportunities to be brave

I got off to the worst possible start. I was waiting for the airport bus, with my new backpack on (travel pillow tied securely onto the straps), and ready to go when I spotted an email from the airline: “YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED”. I had no idea what to do. I even thought that this could be a sign that I shouldn’t go at all. However, when sense came back to me, I realised that I wasn’t going to let a cancelled flight stop me taking a trip I had spent the last month preparing for. So, I booked the next coach to Paris. This obstacle was the first of many to come.

3. You meet lots of new people

This was one of the parts of travelling that I was most anxious about, so I wanted to put myself in situations in which I had to be brave. Arriving in Berlin, tired and hungry, I ate at the hostel restaurant, forcing myself to approach a table of people who I had never met before. My worst nightmare! Looking back now, I see how many people were in the exact same position. I spoke to tonnes of people who were also travelling by themselves and (regardless of how long they had been doing it) were fervent and excited to talk about their experiences so far. I met some incredible people and if I hadn’t pushed myself to seem confident in those moments, I wouldn’t have had all those interesting conversations abroad.

4. It opens up your perspective

Throughout your adventures, regardless of where you end up, you’ll find yourself taking in the culture you’re surrounded with – that helps you to widen your perspective. When I arrived in Brussels, as a newbie in Belgium, I knew I wanted to take in everything all at once. I wanted to know what the locals’ favourite dishes were, the best nightlife spots and what events were happening that week. I took it all in, and had a lovely time there, allowing myself to fully integrate with local customs that I had not been used to.

5. It improves your language skills

My GCSE-level French was unsurprisingly not enough in France and Belgium. I realised that travelling would be a great time to brush up on my language skills. Travelling solo sometimes means you’re free from judgement, so you might even be inspired to learn a new language. My travels taught me to always have a go at practicing! A great time to do this would be at a restaurant when you’re letting the waiter know what you’d like – give it a go in their language. You might surprise yourself and at the very least, the fact you tried would be appreciated.

6. You get to know yourself better

Sipping an Aperol Spritz outside a jazz bar in Antwerp, I was perfectly content, watching other tourists passing by and reading my book. I realised that what I wanted at that moment was to be present. I now know that I’m someone who likes to enjoy life, likes to be independent and enjoys establishing connections and cultivating friendships. Solo travelling taught me what is best suited to me and I know to stand up for myself when something doesn’t fit my needs. It’s important to know what matters to you and to go after what you want.

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1 Comment

  1. Dave G. 9th April 2024 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    Such a well written & honest article giving such a real perspective on lobe travelling, and respecting cultures, and people that you meet. You have been very brave, and have inspired so many others I’m sure.

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