Travel is my cure-all elixir. The magic potion that restores almost everything to goodness. I love more than anything just to breathe the air of new places. And traveling solo usually best does the trick.
It’s simple, really. Traveling alone is like the greatest version of ‘me time’ served up on a platinum platter with a side of your favorite drink and a cherry on top. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want and, probably most importantly, be quiet whenever you want.
And there’s the therapeutic part.
It isn’t that traveling with a loved one or friends (because if we’re being honest, family travel isn’t the general population’s idea of zen), can’t be wonderful, but traveling solo can help you recover yourself. It can help you finally feel like you again after being swamped/stressed/dumped/controlled/insert other negative feeling here. It can also distract you in a way that’s healthy.
I ran across a quote recently that read: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” It was while I was in Belize, and I realized the answer was: Just a few hours ago.
Belize was the first place I hit after a handful of trying months and there were lots of firsts. First time in that country. First time kayaking in a Mayan cave. First time ziplining. First time eating a termite. Yeah, I ate it. The guide serving them up looked at me like I wouldn’t do it—and normally I wouldn’t do it—so I did it. As in, ate one from a swarm of them (can termites be a swarm? anyway…) on a tree. It was so tiny it really didn’t taste like anything, but for the rest of the day I got to be the brave one (which, for anyone who knows me, doesn’t happen often).
Doing something for the first time is exhilarating. And as adults, we’ve been around to have done a lot of things for the first time already, so a new first isn’t only harder to come by, it often ends up being kind of on the risky side—which is exciting. That’s probably why kids are always excited, they’re doing things for the first time all the time (making a mental note not to forget that).
Solo travel also encourages you to slow down and smell the people. And by that I mean really talk to the people around, the locals, the workers, the people who take you from one place to the next or the people who serve your local meals. Those people are the color of the place, the ones who know it intimately and the ones who will give you the true feel for it. As a writer, I always learn the most that way, and as a person, I always get the most joy that way.
When you’re swaying on a hammock in front of a waterfall in the middle of a Mayan mountain range in the middle of nowhere and a million miles from home, you get to reflect (and also brag on Instagram until your friends all hate you). You get to think about what’s important in life, what’s important to you, and realign your intentions to focus on those things. For me, I remember that travel is what brings me the most joy, and no matter the job, relationship, family obligations or whatever else becomes part of my life, I refuse to lose that.
It’s kind of like the way a cleanse works for your body, but travel is a cleanse for your soul.
And if you don’t want to take my word for it, how about a way ancient 13th century Persian poet/mystic/theologian/scholar’s?
Travel brings power and love back into your life. —Rumi