Yes. You can quote me on that.
After my second time as a solo traveler outside of Europe, I’ll continue to preach to my friends – and on this blog – about how crucial it is to travel solo once in a while. If I were to make a list of its benefits it’d be long, entailing topics like personal growth, out of your comfort zone, encountering fears, empowerment, finding yourself and many more cliches alike. But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about the simple – and eye opening – fact that when you travel solo, you get a lot more observant.
As you’re spending a lot of time on your own, from waking up to strolling the streets, going on excursions to eating late dinners, you’re observing a lot of the things around you without the constant presence of someone to share that moment with. Saying this, I’m not saying it isn’t great to share these things with others too, because of course it is. But traveling alone shapes a journey differently.
Solo traveling forces you to open up more to everything and everyone around you. As opposed to when you’re with someone you know and feel safe with, and whom you can constantly talk to in your own language. When on your own therefore, it’s quite probable you get a lot more new friends along the way. It be other travelers or what’s even better; local people from the places you visit. And remember, local people are the ones behind the curtains of most experiences we get while traveling actually.
Like these fellas running one of the bamboo juice stands you’ll find on any corner in Mumbai.
How quickly wouldn’t I’ve got confirmed that trying a cup of bamboo juice is a bad idea if I was with another Western traveler in front of this place? Before moving on while exchanging stories about stomach bugs and so on… Fair enough; stomach bugs suck, but this time I took a chance – and ended up having a long conversation with the two vendors, learning a little about bamboo juice and getting a recommendation about a hidden paper factory down the road.
Apparently it often takes three men – like here – to run a bamboo juice stand. The hardest work is to chop up the sticks before cutting them into smaller pieces (and it’s interesting to see who’s given that assignment in this case), before they’re boiled down with tons of sugar, chilled and served to the never ending approaching customers for 30 cents a cup. Yummy!
Now, you could say that some people perhaps prefer to just observe and reflect over what they see on their own. Without talking to anyone about what they see and think of it throughout the day. But honestly, when you’re on your own, I think it’s rather difficult to not engage with strangers, and this way get new perspectives onto your own reflections. Besides, if you’re not approaching people, be sure someone will approach you anyway. It’s pure psychology don’t you think? That people talk more to people who sit on their own eating, drinking or reading. At least I do.
When in India recently, it happened several times that I became aware of this, and I just loved it (and I´m not referring to the day I ended up as an extra in a Bollywood production, no). After a week in Mumbai on my own, I realised I had seen so much more than I would’ve ever seen if I was to focus on a co-traveler as I went. Not to mention all the people I actually talked to on my way; it be street vendors or staff members in my hostel, taxi drivers or street beggars at night. Then I remembered how I felt the same way while traveling solo in Bolivia.
It might not be a proven fact, but in my experience traveling solo makes me see and hear so much more, so to feel and reflect differently.
Go on and read what I’m talking about!