So last week I wrote a blog post entitled, ‘9 Reasons Not To Travel Solo – Seriously’. No word of a lie, it took me about 30 minutes to write (most of my posts take hours of careful thought and consideration) and was a nice little therapy session, allowing me to take out all my frustrations about solo travel in 1 simple little blog post. I knew writing something controversial would result in many hits to my blog and would hopefully open up the debate on the pros and cons of solo travel.
To say that many people didn’t like what I had to say would be a HUGE understatement. My phone literally beeped all night long from the moment I published it. Blog comments, both good and bad, a crazy amount of tweets and endless FB debates started overnight. I actually received hate mail (bit extreme) and my blog benefited from almost 20,000 hits in less than 12 hours. It was all a bit mad.
While I don’t regret writing it, and I stand by all the points I made, I wanted to write a more positive post about the merits of solo travel. In the interest of a balanced debate, and so that people deciding whether to make that big leap and head off on a solo trip have both positive and negative posts to read, let me share with you all the incredible things that have happened to me while traveling alone. Things that definitely would never have happened if I had a travel buddy or group of friends by my side.
That’s the thing about solo travel. While it’s daunting and scary and sometimes dangerous, it’s also one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you will ever have. You open yourself up to the world, and suddenly the world and so many of its amazing people, open themselves up to you.
Below are 9 incredible things that only happen when you travel solo. Well, they happened to me anyway.
9. You’ll meet the kindest strangers
The amount of times I have encountered the most generous and helpful strangers while traveling solo is unbelievable. In fact, from the minute I leave home on a solo trip, good things seem to happen all thanks to the kindness of strangers. I once had a millionaire (250 million, that is) buy me drinks and dinner at Heathrow airport. The same man once famously said, “The departures lounge at international airports has been the best education!” and it’s hard not to agree with him.
Another kind man also shared his table with me at an airport and when I left to pay, it turned out he kindly paid for both his meal and mine. Also, when coming home from my travels last year, my ATM card stopped working and a guy in the queue saw my panic-stricken face and offered to buy my ticket for me. I asked for his contact details and he simply said, “I know you will pay it forward to another traveler in need someday.” More wise advice from an airport departure lounge!
Over the years I have had kind strangers go totally out of their way to help me when I was lost. One woman in Warsaw went 30 minutes in the wrong direction just to direct me to my hostel. When hitchhiking, both in Ireland and abroad, I have encountered the most generous souls who offered me so much when they found out I was alone. I have encountered kind Canadians in Kenya, who invited me to stay in their place for free. I have been offered free rides, free food and once even found myself on a free flight!
The kindness of strangers is, often times, only something you encounter when you open yourself up to others, and solo travel is the key to that openness.
To be continued…