Traveling alone seems scary at first, and that’s because of one big thing in particular: The prospect of loneliness.
Yet solo travelers have a unique opportunity that others don’t. With nobody from home to impact our actions, we can be free as birds. We can meet all kinds of amazing people, change our plans entirely to hang with them, and can be whoever it is that was always inside us. This kind of freedom and openness leads to the kind of relationships that didn’t exist before. It can forge the kind of connections that staying at home in the confines of familiarity simply couldn’t provide.
These are the five people you meet when you travel solo:
The one who becomes your partner in crime
She’ll be the girl who is sitting across from you on the bus, or the guy who casually asks you where you’re from as he lounges on the beanbag chair next to you in the common room. It’ll be one of those encounters that starts off like any other – casually and innocently. Before you know it, you’ll be spending all of your time together, practically joined at the hip, and always up for a tandem adventure.
The two of you will be like sparks from two rocks rubbed together– impossible to create without the right counterparts. You’ll have a lot of mornings that leave you wondering what on earth happened the night before, yet at the same time, you’ll be there for each other in the way that best friends who have known each other for years are. You’ll form an deep and lasting friendship in a matter of days, and it’ll all be thanks to the openness that each of you have as solo travelers.
The one who opens your mind
Maybe it’ll be a perfect stranger who plays this role, or maybe it will be someone who you hang with for a period of days, weeks, or months. It could easily be someone who you initially just don’t jive with at first. Maybe it will even be a clash that leads to an eventual understanding between you two.
Alternatively, you might fall into a friendly deep and meaningful discussion almost immediately, and that’s how you know that you’re on the same spiritual wavelength. It seems these discussions flow more easily on the road but this one will be different. This one will be the one to open a whole new set of ideas for you, recommend a book that changes your life, or present a belief system you never thought about before. Be open when this person comes along. She has the power to move mountains within your mind.
The local who opens your world
The opportunity to experience a place through a local’s point of view is a privilege to behold. Sometimes this golden opportunity comes along because a local invites you along for a day’s adventures, fishing on his boat and swigging rice wine, or into his home for a meal of dishes you never dreamed of eating, but turn out to be delicious, or to a local ceremony full of dancing and smiling faces that you might not have known existed before.
This is a clear path to the real heart of travel. It’s an opportunity to intimately understand a different culture by experiencing it firsthand rather than by observing it from afar as outsiders do. Each local experience has the potential to open your world even further, allowing space for new belief systems and ways of sharing meals, spirituality, and methods of daily life that were previously mysteries.
The one who occupies your heart
When traveling on your own, you have the opportunity to follow a romance wherever it may take you, and there aren’t any friends or family members to stop you, question your choices, or influence who you do and don’t spend your time with. This means you could meet, and quickly fall for, someone you may never have considered before.
He might be from the other side of the world, or she may have a completely different trajectory than you. Regardless, this will be the person who comes takes up residence in your heart swiftly, before you even have a chance to realize it’s happening.
Who knows what it could mean? Perhaps it’s a fling only meant for the here and now, or perhaps it could lead to a new life entirely with the person who will become your other half. While going into it with the knowledge that it could be either one is wise, whatever the outcome, it’s a wild ride worth jumping into.
The one who you changes you forever
The person who changes you forever could be any one of the aforementioned, or someone new entirely. This person could come into your life for a brief moment, or become a permanent fixture moving forward. Whatever the case or longevity, in the beginning, you’ll likely have no idea what kind of imprint this person will end up making.
This is the one who never leaves your mind and heart. Whether it was a romantic experience or an encounter that made you think, question, and wonder, this is the person who makes the biggest mark of all. Maybe it’s because you had a profound experience together and lost touch, he said something that made you reexamine your own beliefs and values, or the way she lived and loved so openly inspired you to open, too. The one who changes you will always be there in some capacity, even if it’s just as a memory.
All of these meetings will have happened because you put yourself out there, opened up to meeting new people, and made space in your life for serendipity. This is something solo travelers can do, without anyone to tell them no and no yesterdays or tomorrows to think about – just right here and right now. It’s that kind of openness that provides an opportunity to meet such kindred spirits.