So you like to travel with your friends? Understood. I mean nothing beats good company, right?
Traveling with your friends can be fun, but you know what? It deprives you of a life-changing experience: the experience of your own company.
Does it sound a little boring? Kind of scary wandering alone in a city where you know nobody? A little discomfiting? That is true!
We only mature and expand when we push ourselves into "discomfort." Traveling solo is something everyone should try at least once.
"What would you do if no one was watching?" -Anonymous
Solo travel is an opportunity to explore ones own self: your real shot at finding the answer to these nagging questions: What would you do? Where do your ideas, principles, desires and decisions originate? From your core? Or are they things your environment or traditions imposed? Now is your chance to know! What would you do if you know no one is watching and no one is judging?
For me, I did something I never did before (unfortunately). I danced! Anybody who knows me knows that I never dance. But I discovered that I love dancing. I just hate the judging eyes, and I keep thinking, "they must think I look funny." I learned where I need to improve and something small but significant about myself.
Dance like no one is watching. New year's eve party in Lisbon. (Photo by: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)
"I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity." -Albert Einstein
In a hectic life, we work from 9 to 5 (sometimes more) or have millions of errands to get done, with no room even to breath.
Having to be with different people all the time whether they be friends, family, clients, or random people squeezing us in a metro car. Even when we travel, we do it with other people, requiring us to compromise and cater to the group's choices.
We rarely have moments to just enjoy our own company, make our own self-interested, self-centred decisions! Traveling alone gives you that. You set your own pace; you do not need to visit that museum just to "have visited it," or go to that landmark unless you feel like it. You have time to really enjoy yourself, talk to yourself, think and reflect about how you feel, think, and what you want in life. It's a solo ride baby, get used to enjoying the company of the most significant person in the world: YOU.
Enjoying myself's company at Lisbn's coast (Photo by: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Every one of us has his or her list of fears. Be it heights, loneliness or sleeping alone, we all have things we avoid because they make us uncomfortable.
Traveling solo is a fantastic opportunity to face your fears with no pressure. Are you scared of heights? Try climbing this hill … Failed? No problem! Who's going to know?
There is no pressure stopping you from trying again, no one to make you feel embarrassed if you fail, or push you to go again when you cannot. Sleep alone at night and discover finally that feeling lonely might hurt, but it won't kill you. Rise to a new day and a new challenge and a new list of fears to fight through.
Chilling in Vitor Emanuelle Passage (Photo: Nour Eldin Ibrahim)
"I do not need a hand to hold… Even when the night is cold …I got that fire in my soul" -G-Eazy
Solo travel teaches you to fully depend on yourself: no mom, no dad, no friends in here. You are on your own. You are responsible for solving your own problems, responsible for your own happiness and well-being. No one's around to blame for your mistakes. Travel alone, and I guarantee you will come back a tougher person, more independent, mature and responsible for your own luck.
Enjoying the view in Venice (Photo by: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)
“What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better.”
- Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
One more thing that traveling solo did for me is that it pushed me to put myself out there, open my heart to the citizens of the world. Traveling solo does not mean you do not get to make new friends! On the contrary, wandering solo is a golden opportunity to get to know different people, cultures and kind souls. Travel alone and stay in a hostel dorm. These are places with beds occupied by world travellers interested in making new friends. There is no one easier to talk to than a traveller or a backpacker. Go out there and kill your fear of reaching out; open your heart and become a more open, engaged and happy person.
“The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” — Henry David Thoreau
“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain