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  • Emma Rose Collingridge

11 Things I Learnt Travelling Solo

Many people dream of travelling solo, but few have the courage to put this dream into action. Here’s what you could learn if you took the leap of faith …

I have recently returned from my first solo adventure having spent the last 2 months travelling around Australia, and, with my feet back on UK soil, I’ve been reflecting on my time in the land down under.

It’s safe to say my trip was everything I needed and more and it helped me in more ways than I can count. I took this journey by myself more out of necessity. All my friends were either still studying at university or on placement years, and my family were busy working. The prospect of taking this trip alone was exciting and petrifying in equal measure. But I needed to do it for me.

2019 was a tricky year for me and by the end I was neglecting myself in every way possible. I knew I needed to do something drastic to change the way I was feeling and resurrect the old me. Some say my decision to fly to the other side of the world for my first solo adventure was some sort of quarter-life crisis; and in all honesty I wouldn’t totally disagree.

During my time in Australia I was the most happy, confident and stress-free I had been in a long time. The time away from all the stress and drama did my soul the world of good and gave me a chance to heal, grow, and rediscover my passions in life. The most noticeable change I saw in myself upon my return was the way I looked at life; and upon deeper reflection, these are some of the lessons I learnt whilst travelling solo:

- You will learn a lot about yourself. Travelling solo may be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life and I would recommned everyone try it at least once. It’s possibly one of the only times in your life that you feel so vulnerable, but, if you fully embrace the experience and don’t quit when the going gets a bit tough, its inevitable that you will learn the true extent of your strength and capabilities along the way.

- Building upon the above, my solo adventure gave me the confidence to tackle situations back in the UK that I had previously been fearful of. If you can successfully navigate unknown airports whilst being hit on by creepy men, find your way around new bustling cities without getting lost, and skydive from 15,000ft … then you can pretty much do anything, right?!

- Travelling solo doesn’t mean you are always alone; you meet so many amazing people along the way! You can’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and will therefore occasionally find yourself putting your trust in a complete stranger in order to find your way. However, people you previously considered a stranger may quickly become your new best friend and you wouldn’t want to imagine your adventure without them.

- You learn to love and trust yourself. Travelling alone is the ultimate back to basics crash course in learning how to look after yourself. You are your own responsibility and it’s important to learn your limits and trust your intuition. It’s okay to take a break from exploring one day because you completely exhausted yourself over the previous 3 weeks *guilty*. It took me a while to learn that it was okay to rest and not feel guilty for not seeing the world for a couple of days if it meant that I could stay healthy and better enjoy the weeks to come.

- You learn to stop worrying what other people think. Travelling alone is one of the few times in your life where your sole focus is taking care of yourself, therefore other people’s opinions really are the last thing on your mind. Having that weight off your shoulders feels AMAZING, trust me - so remember to enjoy it.

- Experiences are worth so much more than materialistic items. When you have to choose between skydiving or some new clothes better equipped to deal with 40+ degree heat … skydiving will always win in my book.

- You learn a new culture and way of living … and who knows, you may find it suits you better than the one you've always known and grown accustomed to.

- It gives you a better understanding of your priorities. You will quickly learn what makes you happy and realise that there is no room in your life for the things that don’t. Travelling solo gives you a much better perspective of what’s truly important in life and gives you the drive to focus on the things you want to pursue in the future.

- Live life in the moment! I didn’t post on my socials or on this blog anywhere near as much as I intended to … and I’m perfectly okay with that! There is so much more to life that we miss each day by staring at our screens. I didn’t want to waste a single moment of the freedom I had or miss a single view while I was in Australia and I have so many incredible memories because of that.

- Gain a greater awareness. You are responsible… for EVERYTHING. If something goes wrong, you only have yourself to blame and it’s up to you to fix it. If you lose something, well I guess you should have taken better care of it. I had nightmares about losing my passport (fortunately that never happened but the nightmares seemed real enough). Equally, if I’d have lost my phone or my camera, all of my photos would have vanished so I made extra sure that I always knew where everything important was. On the other hand, if everything goes smoothly, that’s all because of you. Well done.

- This last one sounds a bit weird but you learn to admire, congratulate and thank yourself. Not everyone has the courage to take on a trip, not matter how big or small, by themselves and upon your return you are likely to feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I received so many comments from people saying how brave I was and how they wouldn’t dare to do a trip like that by themselves. After hearing this a few times, the enormity of what I had just done really began to sink in and I look back at this incredibly unforgettable experience with the fondest of memories. So, remember to thank and appreciate yourself often for the little things in life, especially for having the courage to push your limits.

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