Packing the bags and leaving everything and everyone behind is very scary. Saying goodbye to your family & friend, your job, your home, your emotional and financial security networks is always challenging. Many tears and worries are part of the letting go process that everyone who leaves their comfort zone has to deal with. As I have never really been away from home for that long, except when I was at uni, I struggled much more with leaving everything behind than I expected, but I have to say: IT IS ALL WORTH IT.
I knew from the beginning that I can manage anything that comes my way by myself or at least with the help of people I will get to know on the way. I knew I could handle being alone and wandering about on my own. Finding the way around new cities and countries with completely different cultures is like walking through a jungle full of new impressions and emotions. There are many wow effects as well as many moments of confusion and sometimes even fear. Never would I have imagined that solo travelling could be so enriching in many ways.
It is enormously helpful to get to know yourself and get back into connection with your gut feeling and your instinct because it’s the only thing you can rely on. If something feels good, you can enjoy the moment, and if it feels bad, it means that you have to move on. I also learned how little one actually needs to survive and still enjoy life. Traveling by overland truck for about 11’000km and sleeping in a tent for nearly 6 weeks made me become even more humble and disconnected from the capitalist attitudes of my fellow citizens in Luxembourg. 2 bags is all you have and that’s all you have to worry about, if at all. The more you have the more you have to worry about… in this case the lesson is: LESS IS MORE. Away from home nobody knows your story so you can be the person you simply are or want to be without any strings attached. However, the amazing places I visited and where I spend my time would only have been half as great without the people I shared the experiences with.
The most wonderful thing about solo travelling is that you get to know so many wonderful people and local cultures. I was never and never felt alone on my solo trip, I was always connected or surrounded by people somehow. I lived with a host family and worked in a project in Soweto and the experience was so wonderful (blog post 13/10/15). I met many people on the way, and even though I sometimes only spent 1 day with a stranger, we had a great connection because we were in that place for one and the same reason: to experience the unknown. On a 6-week-tip from Cape Town to Nairobi all the travelers constituted a small family and the formed friendships were respectful and unprejudiced. It is stunning how easy it is to get to know new people and I am sure that it is even easier when you are by yourself. You try to find some familiar points of orientation so you try to connect with people, dive and get lost in cities and connect with the vibe of a place and its community.
NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST.
When I first booked and planned my trips I was mainly focussed on the destinations and didn’t even consider the social factor. I have to say I was enormously overwhelmed by all the emotions and situations I shared with many different people on the way.
If you are open to the world and its people, the world opens up to you and offers many opportunities and wonderful situations. My solo trip through Africa was more intensive than I would ever have expected.
However, SAYING HELLO TO THE WORLD ALSO INCLUDES SAYING GOODBYE at some point and that can be hurting, but it is worth all the ups and downs because it means that you are having a good time and are experiencing the journey and its experience at its fullest. You can enjoy the moments to a full extend and then at some point you have to move on to the next destination and to the next wonderful experiences waiting for you.
Even COMING HOME after a long trip feels very intense as you have got the opportunity to look at your life from a different perspective, from outside. You are still in adventure mode and experience your life and surrounding differently and way more intensely than before you left. During my trip, I felt a little homesick after 2 months or so and coming back home I fully valued everything and everyone in my life. I realised how valuable these connections are, which connection matter and which are only a waste of time and energy and that there are people who care about me. I was never really aware of that and in my everyday life I felt invisible and unloved most of the time, even though it has never been the case, I only didn’t feel it.
Solo travel has taught me to open my heart and rely on my gut feeling and it is a lesson I hope to remember forever.
I am more than thankful for all the people I have at home and grateful for all the people I have had the chance to meet around the world.
THANKS FOR BEING THE GREAT PEOPLE YOU ARE