This past winter I embarked upon a solo adventure to Cambodia and Thailand. The decision to take the trip alone came as my travel companions slowly dropped out. One of the most frequent questions I received before my departure was whether I was scared to be in a foreign country alone.
Fear of the unknown is one of those hurdles that when faced head-on, can propel us forward to new levels of understanding our self. It challenges us to operate from a level of instinct and intuition, rather than from habit and routine. It squashes the stagnation and dormancy that builds up from the routine of day-to-day living.
I set one explicit goal for myself - I would find a studio to practice yoga in each city along the way. The beauty of this single mission was that it permitted me to explore these wondrous cities in a nontraditional light. I stumbled upon one spiritual oasis after another, tucked-away in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Koh Chang, and Chiang Mai.
This trip was by-far, one of the very best travel experiences of my life. The decision to do it alone making it all the more so. In an effort to convince others to take a leap of faith and travel solo, here are my top 5 reasons to do so:
1) Unparalleled Freedom- Not being tethered to a single thing was utterly exhilarating. Knowing I was thousands of miles away from any real responsibility or accountability to anyone other than myself was truly liberating. The ability to wake up each morning and spend the days to my exact choosing was the greatest reprieve from the reality of routine daily living.
2) Time to Reflect- Had I a travel companion, I would have spent a fraction of the time I did reading, journaling, and practicing yoga. There was no need for constant conversation to pass the time or keep another person entertained. It was on this trip that I began this blog and where I rekindled my love for reading fiction.
3) Heightened Awareness- This arose from a necessity to be more alert to my surroundings, as well as from the lack of distraction of a companion. As I wandered through the magnificent temples of Cambodia in solitude, I was awestruck by the magnitude of these ancient man-made wonders of the world. I had the space to pause and give thought to the world religions and leaders that inspired them. Eating alone also granted me the great pleasure to truly savor the exquisite Southeast Asian cuisine bursting with flavor and spice.
4) Meet New People- This is one of the most obvious upsides to traveling solo. You engage with fellow travelers and locals in some of the most memorable conversations and experiences of your life. One of my single greatest pleasures of traveling is meeting another person to discuss your outlook of the world. I guarantee this conversation will inevitably arise between like-minded adventure seekers. It is in these simple moments shared with strangers, that the very beauty of humanity, and the vast, wondrous nature of the world rings with the most truth.
5) Confront your Fears and Shortcomings- Having none other but the company of yourself makes it difficult to pin any fear, shortcomings, or unhappiness on anyone else. It holds you fully accountable for your thoughts, actions, and intentions. On the remote island of Koh Chang is where I came to realize that we as humans are not designed to wake up full of bliss each day. We are bound to experience the emotional ups and downs of the mind, regardless of circumstance. However, we do have the ability to decide how we wish to react to these varied states, ultimately granting us the decision of how much control our thoughts and emotions have over us.
Cheers to traveling solo in the spirit of adventure!