I began travelling alone when I was nineteen. When my friend, Risa, left me in Europe to begin her Kibbutz life in Israel, I was left alone to finish two weeks in Europe. Thus, began my love affair with my solo adventures. After the initial fear of having to free fall in a foreign country, I learned some valuable lessons about myself that have helped me navigate my life.
When I had to find modes of transportation to get to my next destination, I learned to ask for help. I was so used to relying on Risa, who loved to plan trips, I simply let her take-over so I could simply enjoy the ride. Asking for help in a hotel or travel office, proved that common sense was my most reliable skill. Once, I learned how to navigate in my current environ, that opened me up to memorable adventures I wouldn’t have had with fellow travelers. My confidence grew with each destination, giving me an exhilarating feeling of exploration. Nothing makes me feel more in the now than being alone on my own journey.
I learned that it’s very important to heed your intuitions. Just like animals in the forest, we humans must rely on our senses to detect danger. If a person or a place gave me an odd feeling, I trusted that feeling and fled to a safe haven. I learned not to feel badly about saying, “No.”
Being alone heightens the senses. Survival is all about focusing on sounds, sight, smell, taste and touch. This goes without saying as an alert person is much safer than one who isn’t alert- the perfect prey for any seasoned hunter. I use all my senses to create when I am alone on my travels. For example, if I were with a friend, I wouldn’t notice the changing colors in the sky or the varied sounds of laughter in a new place. These simple pleasures have added so much to my writing and have given me such an appreciation for life, wherever I am.
Being alone in a foreign land, makes it easier to meet the local folk. So many wonderful people have invited me into their lives; many of those folks are people I still actively know. I do not believe we can truly learn about another culture unless we experience local customs.
I continue to travel alone as much as possible because I leave familiar things and people behind. When I do leave my life, I open myself up to new experiences. These new experiences make me feel young, current and valid. When we can give ourselves these feelings of worth, then we don’t need to give up our self-control to others. We maintain our sense of self and move around in the world with a confidence to tackle any obstacle in a new land and in our own lives, as well.