Firstly I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year! Thankfully, 2020 has now come to an end. A year that will go down in the history books for all the wrong reasons. At the time of writing this, the global Covid casualty count is just under 1.4 million. The world has been forced to close it’s doors, devastating the global economy and especially the travel industry. National lockdowns, country border closures and quarantine are all too familiar and is something that has not been seen in generations before and we all hope, won’t ever see again. This article outlines why I believe solo travel is the perfect remedy for the sh*t show that has been 2020 and how you can help the world, and yourself, bounce back in 2021. Let us start the year on a positive note. Let us get back to travel!
2021 can literally be seen as a new beginning. Nobody knows how things will turn out, and it is very likely that the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic may linger for some time to come. Hotels, businesses, tour groups, travel agents, local’s in countries dependant on travel for a living, have all been deeply affected by the outbreak. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Sadly, it is thought that the aftermath of the covid-19 outbreak could see more people die due to poverty than that who were lost to this horrible virus. We can help. You Can Help.
By getting back to travel, not only we will be helping the industry and the people involved back from the brink, but we will be helping ourselves. Our own well being and our own mental health have all taking a battering this year. You deserve a break. Granted, this is not possible straight away. But getting ahead of the game and planning your next trip starts right here.
So what should you do? Where should you go? How long will you go? One thing I can tell you for certain is you don’t need to wait for anyone else to free yourself. The answer to everything you need may well be found in a solo venture and to help you grow as a person. So many of us have spent the previous year solo already. Quarantined from everyone, hidden away and barely seeing anything other than a supermarket. However, solo travel does not mean lonely travel. This is a myth that needs to be debunked right now.
Some of my most memorable trips have been solo. I have backpacked through Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, Europe… the list goes on. One thing I can tell you from my very own experience, you will never be surrounded by more people than when you travel solo. I remember about halfway through my trip around Vietnam I decided to get a guest house over a hostel just so I wouldn’t meet anyone that day/night! I actually WANTED a night to myself to recharge!
But again, that is something you also have the option to do, you are your own boss. Yes, it is great to share experiences with loved ones and close friends but one thing you do get with solo travel is complete freedom. You do you boo. Don’t worry about what anyone else wants to do. You may even meet others on your trip that you wish to travel with, but at the end of the day, it is totally up to you. Should you decide to part ways and take different paths, so be it. That is what solo travel is all about. You actually have the best of both worlds.
I know many of you out there will have contemplated solo travel before. I also bet that those who have not done it have always had it in the back of their minds. The next step is taking that leap. It can and will seem so daunting to actually hop on a plane on your own and land in a foreign place with only your thoughts to keep you company. Trust me, every single person who has ever taken this leap has felt exactly the same way. One thing all of these people will have in common is that they will NEVER regret that decision.
You will never be able to comprehend just how much you grow as an individual and as a person when you solo travel. This is something that will shape the rest of your life and mould you as a person. It will open your eyes to the world and achieve things you never even dreamed of before. Your confidence and self-belief will grow astronomically not to mention your charisma and charm. Instead of being the one at the party listening to others, be the one with a story to tell!
The Leap Of Faith Required For Solo Travel
Having the balls to go up to a total stranger and spark up a conversation is the thing of nightmares for some people. I will also be honest, it does feel like that for the first time. One thing you will learn while travelling solo…your not the only one doing so and your definitely not the first. You would be surprised at how many people actually travel solo and have already met people and just bonded while there. Never feel like your breaking up a group of close friends travelling together from their home town. The chances are they are not even from the same country, let alone the same town. Furthermore, each and every one of them had also been in the same position you may find yourself in.
It is way too easy to say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’… never put off for tomorrow something that can be achieved today. As we have all learnt the very harsh reality from this year is that no-one is guaranteed a tomorrow. Take that leap today. Lock-in that flight to wherever it may be that you are dreaming of. Once that flight is booked it becomes very real.
Right now, you may think it a risk to book a flight anywhere. Actually, you can find some great deals especially if your booking well in advance. What’s more, you are now given the added bonus of altering existing bookings, should problems arise due to covid-19, free of charge. Let’s think positive. The vaccine is beginning to be rolled out so why not start planning for the later part of 2021?
My Personal Life Lessons From Solo Travel
It will all become very real once you hit that buy button and lock in that flight. However, you MUST take that leap of faith.
While I was in Hue, Vietnam, I was approached by a local on a motorbike. He asked if I’d like to take a tour of Hue and the surrounding areas on the back of his bike. He then showed me a little black diary of entries made by other travellers who have taken tours with him. I was hesitant to jump on the back of a motorcycle with a random local if I am honest. Who wouldn’t be? However, there was one thing echoed around in my head that he said, as I read high praising entries into his own little ‘trip advisor’ book.
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“If You Never Go… You’ll Never Know
I thought this was genius! The saying has stayed with me ever since. That leap of faith and little niggle that may be holding you back is all to do with fear of the unknown. Every single decision you have ever made in your life has lead you to this exact moment in time, reading this article. I solemnly believe that everything happens for a reason. Who knows what the future will hold by taking that leap of faith rather than accepting what you have in front of you.
What I can say is that I took him up on his offer. I even booked for him to then take me from Hue to Hoi An the following day. A trip of about 130km that took the vast majority of the day. We stopped off at ‘Elephant Falls’ for a swim, seeing locals work in the rice paddies and the incredible views of the Hai Van Pass. The later being voted one of the most scenic drives on earth. I even got to see some of the incredible histories around the Vietnam war.
These were places you just would not have seen if you went via train or without a local guide. At the elephant falls I was even asked by locals for my photograph with them as I was the only white male there! This was really quite surreal. One thing that’s for sure, I wouldn’t have taken this trip if I hadn’t been travelling solo. After all, three is a crowd on a motorbike!
So, as Mr Tein said to me, I am saying to you…’if you never go you never know’.
Loneliness Of Solo Travel
Like I said previously, from my own personal experience, loneliness during solo travel is not a thing. One of my top tips for meeting others… speak to others. People are not going to bite your head off. It is also extremely unlikely that you will get brushed aside either. If that were ever to happen ( I personally have never experienced that happen) you just go another way. You most probably won’t ever see them again so why worry about it? So many people on their travels do so alone and end up making friends for life.
Friends you have at home and people you meet on your travels can be very different. At home, your friends may have been people you may have been to school with, others you may have worked with. It may be people from a certain social club. You get on with those people but you’re unlikely to meet others from outside your local vicinity. You meet them because you all live work and exist in that same area.
Travel brings people together from all walks of life from all over the globe. What’s more, you have so much in common with those you meet on the road. After all, you all have very similar interests in travel and have most probably left the everyday life behind back ‘home’. The confidence to speak to new people and build relationships from scratch is something that you will take with you through life and an attribute that others will not achieve in an entire lifetime.
I really believe that travel is the best way to grow as a person. Knowledge is power as we all know, and no greater knowledge comes from real-life experiences. So do yourself a favour… make 2021 YOUR year and take that trip of a lifetime. No-one has ever deserved to get away from life than after 2020!
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My name is Ryan Cook and I am the founder of Travel With Cooky. I am a travel enthusiast sharing my top travel tips and destination reviews helping you to travel more for less.
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