wanderlust

10 Lessons I Learned While Travelling The World Alone

Photography by yet unknown artist

Photography by yet unknown artist

Many of us have had the chance of travelling, of broadening our horizons and exploring new cultures. As much as travelling in a group or with a travel buddy is life fulfilling, doing by yourself is life changing. Travelling solo brings a whole lot of layers to the experience whereby the journey is not only a cultural one but a voyage that will touch you deeply on a personal, spiritual and emotional level.

Throughout my travels –mostly by myself– I’ve absorbed, I’ve experienced, I’ve reacted and now I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned.

henry baker

Alone doesn’t not mean loneliness.
When you travel by yourself, you’ll encounter things, new things, exciting things – all by yourself. And while this can be overwhelming (or even scary) sometimes, you’ll slowly but surely realize that being alone, first of all, gives you immense amounts of freedom, but most importantly, that being alone does not equal being lonely. Being alone means enjoying yourself, embracing yourself and opening up and has nothing to do with being lonely.

You’ll realize that the things you own end up owning you.
Going from owning a house, a car and a few good pounds in clothes to travelling with one (or two) bags will make you realize how much material things that you own will end up owning you. The experience of travelling is priceless, while material things will hardly enrich you in any level – the less you own, the more liberated you’ll be.

Less is more & quality definitely beats quantity.
In a society where bigger, faster and more is embraced, we tend to forget that simple things in life can be very much more meaningful. While travelling alone will make you more open to those little nuances life has to offer –  you’ll realize at the same time that that quantified world (likes, money, degrees) doesn’t matter as much as your quality of life in that same world. Travelling will also make you realize that it is not about going to 15 countries in 15 days, but about investing in a few places and people that will count at the end.

Solo travelling is the best catalyst for creativity.
Every new place you visit, person you encounter, new aromas you smell or things you see will make your brain unchain. It is then when your thinking will spark in new creative directions. Use this to make great things for yourself (or for others) happen. Have a project, write a blog, take cooking lessons where you’re at, give something back to the world you’re travelling in.

You’ll learn how to travel with yourself and how to love yourself.
This journey will not only be one around the globe or to a certain place, but it will also be an inner exploration and acceptance of who you are as a person. A successful solo vacation will work as an introspective journey that will inspire you  to keep on doing thing you might had been afraid of doing alone. You’ll learn how to be okay by yourself which will eventually translate to loving yourself fully.

Painting by yet unknown creator

Painting by yet unknown creator

Home is where you are.
When on the move, you’ll realize that that feeling of home is within you. That the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. While travelling alone you will soon find out that you are the man or woman you your dreams. You’ll find out that you are yours, right here and right now – before being of someone else.

Who matters.
Touring solo will make you think about relationships — the good, the bad and the ugly.  But those who really matter in your life will be the ones that shall stay in your mind and in your heart. You will matter to those worthy and they shall let you know so, even if you’re at the other side of the ocean.

Vulnerability is attractive.
When you dive into an unknown territory, you’ll be vulnerable – a lot of times. But this vulnerability can be attractive. Be vulnerable, be open, embrace humility and good things will follow.

Spontaneity becomes a way of living.
When on holiday, you don’t have schedules or meetings or to do lists (at least, you shouldn’t). This allows for serendipity – the moment when time and space collide and you become a sponge for great, random, unexpected and fascinating happenings.

You are priority.

Travelling alone is one of the few times in your life where your number one priority is you. The main goal is to take care for yourself, enrich yourself, treat yourself. Whether consciously or not, being on the road alone serves as a catalyst for love, for empowering of oneself and for appreciating oneself, which will then translate in compassion and love for the rest of the world.  

Laura Beltrán Villamizar  is a Bogotá born, bred in Florida, The Hague, Buenos Aires, Brussels and Berlin. An epicurean traveller and photographer – she also romanticises cities and coffee way out of proportion. Life brought her to Amsterdam, where she currently lives and works. She loves slow travel, slow food and slow journalism and can also have a cup of freshly brewed coffee at any time, any. She can eat her weight in avocados and loves music, nearly all sorts. She embraces dancing, and playing and DJ’ing, adoring beats and drums and hips being shaken.