By Badruzzahan Ahmed
We came to this world alone. We will leave this world alone too. And yet somehow, we seem to be afraid of doing certain things on our own. Sure, having someone to share experiences multiplies the joy and divides the sorrow, but it is equally important to know who we truly are without feeling the necessity to be someone the world expects us to be. Our society, families and social circles rarely give us this opportunity to be alone on the path of self-discovery. Travelling solo offers us a chance to discover who we really are beyond the safety of our comfort zones and expectations.
To travel solo for the first time in a nutshell can be described as a true leap of faith. To travel solo, one must have faith that the world has more good people than bad, and that the greatest acts of kindness are sometimes from strangers that we may never meet again. But for the solo traveller, the distinction between having faith on the best of human nature and naïve whimsical acts is crystal clear. Solo travellers accept kindness with gratitude but also keep an alert mind to ensure personal safety.
An advice to first time solo travellers with possible cold feet would be this: start your first solo adventure to a destination that you feel you would be culturally and socially comfortable with. This gives the advantage of understanding the locals, place and contextual etiquettes better, and creates no stress from ‘cultural shock,’ adjustment or homesickness. Also, try to keep the duration of the first solo trip between 5-7 days. With more trips that you will make, you will gain experiences that will allow you to extend trips longer. Attempting to travel to an absolutely far-off culturally different destination might create excessive stress that will leave the wrong impression about solo travels. However, this is not necessarily true for all travellers.
The definition of the most rewarding moment of solo travels varies based on the traveller’s personality. However, one recurring reward as expressed by most travellers is discovering that we are responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction in life, and projecting the responsibility of personal happiness on another individual is sometimes unfair. Additionally, spending time with oneself allows us to contemplate our lives from a different perspective. A foreign destination sometimes reminds us how blessed we are, and alternately, how we could do better.
In the digital age of social media where we are ‘always connected,’ travelling solo and spending time with oneself continues to be vastly underrated. As the ancient Greek wisdom goes ‘Know Thyself,’ for the self can simultaneously be our greatest weakness or strength.