I recently had the opportunity of traveling alone to Bali. Although the thought of going solo to a place I didn’t know anyone was daunting, it turned out to be a fantastic trip. The people, the food, and the vibe of some cities were utterly incredible. I got to learn a few things about myself and life;
- Solo traveling takes you on the journey of self-discovery
We are always trying to discover who we are, our potential and why we do the things we do. Given our busy schedules, it’s almost impossible to take some time off for self-reflection. Solo traveling is the opportune time to get in touch with your inner self. To reflect and think critically on who you are, what is important, what drives our happiness and satisfaction in a different setting. It’s a time to pose from the usual routine and discover new capabilities about yourself. I have always been terrible with direction, and as such, this limited my adventures only with people due to the fear of getting lost. I did visit so many places on my own although I got lost a couple times. I discovered that I liked the challenge of finding these places and derived a sense of satisfaction when I reached my destination. Although self-discovery is an ongoing process, the time spent on solo travel will accelerate the process.
- Detours are opportunities to experience new things
Don’t focus on reaching your destination or sticking to the plan, allow yourself to wander a little bit – embark on something new, new places, loosen a little and enjoy the scenery. I found myself in places wondering off my plan, I went with the tide, and some of the things on these detours turned out to be the highlight of my trip.
- It’s possible to travel alone and not get bored or lonely
My days were packed with activities, even on the rainy days that I didn’t have the time to feel the need for a travel companion. By the time I would retire to my hotel, all I wanted to do was to black out. I derived happiness from visiting new places and trying out new things. Of course, there are those moments when you would want a familiar company, but it’s nothing different from the usual feeling you would have when you are back home. Being alone doesn’t automatically equate to loneliness, you can be surrounded by people you know and still be lonely.
- You are open to trying out new adventures
Since you are free from other people’s opinions and fears, solo traveling is an opportunity to try out new things. I got to try out undersea walking, never in my short life had the idea crossed my mind, I signed up for a surfing lesson, had my first yoga experience which I entirely loved. These are things I didn’t plan to do when I was in Bali but would like to try again, I plan to make yoga a lifestyle.
- Opens you to new friendships
As a solo traveler, you are more receptive to people and their experiences. It is possible to meet people you will never speak to or meet again, but it is also an opportunity to forge life-long friendships with people from entirely different backgrounds. I got out of my comfort zone and freely interacted with the locals, fellow travelers and genuinely picked interest in knowing people’s stories. I also met a fellow Ugandan traveler on this trip that has turned out to be an inspiration in so many ways.
- Living in the moment
Although planning for your trip beforehand is essential, it’s good to have some room for spontaneity. Having a flexible itinerary and being able to make decisions on your own will allow you to stay in a place longer if you love it; it will enable you to join a new travel buddy on a trip; try out a suggested activity or adventure. These spontaneous decisions will enrich your travel experience.
- Forces you to deal with your weaknesses and fears
There are variety weaknesses I had to deal with during my solo travel like my direction problems. I hate eating alone; I had to eat out alone on several occasions, so I turned this into a session of interacting with the locals in the restaurants and getting to know more about the local foods.
- Not exactly cheap
Although liberating, traveling alone is not cheap! You incur a lot of costs you would have saved on if you visited as a group or with a friend. The cheapest place to stay was in a hostel, but I really wanted to have a comfortable and quiet place to stay since I am a light sleeper. I ended up paying a little bit more for the hotels though it’s nothing compared to the peace and quiet that comes with it. Also, there is almost no public transportation around Bali except for Taxis or Scooters. I ended up paying more on transport since the easiest way to visit the places that were far apart was with a hired driver.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I did learn is that solo traveling largely depends on being comfortable with your own company, being open-minded and the place you decided to stay. Some areas will make it easy for you to interact with other travelers and locals compared to others. For me it was Ubud.
I am glad I stopped waiting for people and took the leap of faith for this adventure.