Tapping in my credit card number and clicking on the flashing green “Confirm Booking” link was probably the wisest thing I ever did.
My trip to Bali was all set – my accommodation was booked, my flight was fixed and my bags were packed. I was growing more and more excited as the date approached but I was also overwhelmed; What if I don’t make any friends? What if I become too lonely? What if I get too sick to make it to the hospital? What if what if what if…
I wasn’t able to calm myself down,and when I boarded my flight I immediately FaceTimed my boyfriend and broke down into tears. They were more like ridiculous sobs and I couldn’t stop. Ten hours later, Bali’s beautiful temple like airport came into view through my small airplane window. The sight of the Indian Ocean’s waves filled with me with a sense of relief and excitement. I made it.
I left my anxieties and worries behind on the plane and stepped onto Balinese soil with a new sense of excitement. This is going to be amazing. I knew that from the very start and I was absolutely right – the next ten days were truly what I needed.
These are the top five things I gained.
1. Regaining Independence
Traveling alone means you are solely responsible for your belongings, cash, passport and life. With that comes a sense of regaining your independence and learning how to deal with tricky situations. It can be scary at times because life is full of surprises, but being on your own in a foreign place teaches you how to prepare yourself for situations that may not usually happen in the comfort of your home.
It ultimately teaches you that security lies in your hands, and your hands only. These are things that help you grow as a person and level up your sense of maturity.
2. Meeting Extraordinary People
Traveling with a partner or a group of friends means that you won’t have to dine alone or walk back to your hotel alone at 2 in the morning or have to approach strangers at the bar. But it also means that you most likely won’t make new life long friends from all over the world.
I was most nervous about not meeting people on this trip; I know I am a shy person and have quite a few inhibitions when it comes to approaching random people. But it took me less than 24 hours to realize that I was completely wrong and to discover a friendly, social and affable side to me.
I ended up having striking conversations with all sorts of people from different backgrounds – conversations that will stick with me forever, conversations that have shifted my perspective and opened up whole new worlds inside me. It was refreshing to meet strangers and to hear their stories; some were inspiring while others were bizarre.
Most of all, it made me realize just how big our world is and how we become so cooped up in our own lives and social circles that we forget just how amazing (and sometimes heartbreaking) the human spirit can be.
3. Leaving the Comfort Zone (then erasing the definition of comfort from your life)
Whoever said that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone was absolutely right.
I would have never imagined to drive a motorcycle and get lost on the narrow and chaotic roads of Bali but I did – and for ten days, too! I never thought I would enjoy dining at a five star couple infested restaurant on my own (and in my yoga gear to be exact) but I loved it so much that I sat there alone for an hour and a half and savored every last bite of my three course meal. I never dreamed of surfing but became so addicted to the thrill of it that I signed up for more lessons after my first time. New territories were explored, and because I was on my own I felt no obligations or limitations. I was going to explore things on my own time and at my own will.
Traveling alone subjects you to all sorts of adventure and the wise thing to do is to take them up. You start to see how beautiful life can be and how it consists of seizing every moment and not worrying about the consequences (let’s be sensible here – I’m not referring to wild parties and drugs!).
It was when I left my comfort zone that my inner self was surfaced and when I discovered that I am a wild spirit that cannot be easily tamed. It also made me see how my routine at home killed that part of me. Now that I have shed a light on this and have come back from my trip, I have learned new tricks to revive that part of me and say no to routine. I feel more flexible and more adapted to the idea of going with the flow.
4. Facing the Monsters in Your Head
This comes inevitably when you leave your comfort zone, and when you do come face to face with these monsters (for me it was getting a foot massage and going inside a cave) you realize just how small and ludicrous they are. Being alone helps achieve that.
5. Getting in Touch with Yourself
This sounds very cliche, but cliches exist for a reason.
To my surprise, being alone with myself and my thoughts was remedial. It allowed me to get in touch with the person I am:my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions and my fears. It made me realize just how out of touch I have been with myself for the past decade, and how my life has been a struggle of pleasing everyone and conforming to their image of me. It gave me the opportunity to say Hey! I’m actually pretty awesome the way I am and people are lucky to have me in their lives. And trust me, saying that out loud with true conviction is so liberating.
I can go on endlessly about my solo trip to Bali, but I’m afraid that words will fail me. The feelings that it provoked and the experiences and life lessons it handed over to me are etched in my soul. I can’t recommend this enough; if you feel like you have been stuck and emotionally drained then book a ticket and GO GO GO!