I realized something on my Intrepid trip. I am most comfortable when I am uncomfortable. When I’m off balance. Unsure. When I’m vulnerable. Basically, when I’m traveling.
Throwing yourself into the world with wild abandon is exciting, terrifying and (if you’re doing it right) life-changing. Especially if you’re doing it by yourself. When you travel solo, you move through borders and different cultures, picking up scraps of language, trying new food, experimenting, seeing things you’ve only seen in history books. Seeing things you never knew existed.
Those are the external benefits. But it’s the internal ones that last the longest. It’s self discovery that keeps your roots grounded and your branches growing. You don’t just learn about places. You learn about the way in which you react to them, how you fit into the world. How do I feel here? Anxious? Comfortable? Where will I be tomorrow? How do I get from A to B?
When you travel solo you feel vulnerable, and it’s through that vulnerability that you become strong. It’s just you. You’ve got to depend on yourself – and sometimes put up with yourself. You have to carry your own bags (the emotional ones too) and day-in and day-out it’s you that’s at the helm. It’s a constant balance of fear and freedom. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? You realize that you’re answering and catering to your own dreams and desires, and that’s a pretty liberating feeling. It’s not to say that it’s all a breeze. You will stumble, be challenged, and probably want to give up. You might get tired of your own company (or just flat out tired). Travel pains are part of the deal. You can’t get strong if you’re never sore.
It’s also good to know that traveling solo doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone. When you have the freedom to be yourself, you find yourself in situations with like-minded people, people you’d never have met if you traveled with a friend, or stayed on the couch at home. You’ll stumble across a person, a family, or a community that you embrace, and that embraces you back. It’s through these chance encounters that we understand the power of connection and the importance of human experience. The gap between you starts to diminish. You may not speak the same language, but you all have a story to tell, affection to share, and lives that matter.
The universe has a funny way of putting good things in front of you when you take risks. I’m sure glad I took this one.
Marianna travelled on our 21-day Peru Encompassed tour. Check out the itinerary here.
Words and images c/o Marianna Jamadi.