Can traveling solo be a life changing experience? Can it change your outlook on life?

Solo travel certainly changed my outlook on life. I recently tried to conceptualize the ‘why' to this, and I describe it below.

1. Feeling years younger – Solo travel is a unique example of grasping life and living it, so much so that years tend to evaporate from your self-perceived age. If you socialize with other solo travelers on your adventures, you'll find that many of them tend to be younger university maybe you can also feel younger through osmosis. :-) Whatever the reason, you find yourself taking chances on solo travel that the ‘old you' would never have done.

The best part about travelling solo is becoming friends with people you can't even imagine!

I'll talk about my yesterday's travelling experience with you all. Though it didn't change my life completely, it did bring about a significant positive change in my life.

So yesterday, when I got to know that my companion in the bus journey was a 70ish-year-old woman, I was like, "Crap! Now I am going to be so bored." (Only if I could successfully survive those loud snoring noises that old people usually make.) So I put my headphones on and continued scrolling down my newsfeed until the gentle voice beside me asked, "Jhia, tame kouthu asucha?" (Girl, where are you coming from?) [In Odia]

"Mu Rourkela ru asuchi, Mausi." (I'm coming from Rourkela, Aunty.)

And guess what?




Those eight hours entirely changed my perspective! We ended up exchanging some amazing life experiences and had so much fun that now I can delightfully say that this, by far, has been one of the most interesting journeys of mine!

Despite the half-a-century age gap, our ideologies about women empowerment, feminism, freedom, Odisha and its culture, her favorite television show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati', and so much more aligned so well. Amidst so many differences, we were still so alike; sitting here side by side, sharing a good hearty laugh together! And the epic saga continued from dusk till dawn when we finally got down the bus and waved goodbyes. The journey was simply awesome; different from the solo trips that I have previously taken!

Absolutely. It probably impacted me more than for most people in my entire life.

Majority of my life I suffered from catastrophic depression, loss, loneliness and suffering. I nearly took my own life several times even at a very young age. Shortly after this trauma of nearly killing myself I received a message from an old penpal ( online friend) that I used to speak to nearly 8 years prior randomly messaged me and invited me to visit Rome, Italy for the first time. I had barely stepped foot out of my own house let alone another country but I decided to try it as risky as it was since I had nothing left to lose.

This was the beginning of the transformation of my entire life. The trip taught me SO much about history, exposed me to millions of other people around the world all with their unique thoughts and cultural traits I've never seen before, new sensations experiences and exposed me to new people who acted completely differently from the cold northern desert part of Canada I was used to living in with cold and boring people who had no interest in traveling.

The whether makes a tremendous difference as well for people with depression and the weather I experienced in Italy was unlike anything I ever had in my life. For the first time I tasted real fresh fruits and was greeted by the sun, the type of sunlight and warmth that was so foreign to me.

Seeing thousands of years worth of history unfold before my eyes with the Saint peters basilica, colloseum and the beautiful archaic roman streets I felt like I was in heaven for the first time.

This was also a journey that opened my eyes even today to make it my goal to travel and work abroad and go to as many foreign lands as possible. For what is life without traveling? When the world is so big I think it's utterly tragic that a lot of people don't seem to care to do so.

I know I sound like I'm exaggerating but I am not. Also this doesnt mean it solved all of my life's problems and I had horrific times during my traveling as well. I got robbed, molested even, and ended up getting the worst cough and cold of my life to the point where people thought I was dying in the train on my way from Rome to Naples. My depression still isn't cured and life doesn't automatically get perfect just from traveling.

Still though I survived and I would not trade this experience with anything. I absolutely believe that had I not made the decision to travel I would not be here today.

Travelling alone is a unique experience that allows you the luxury to do what you really want to, without depending on others. It's thrilling, exciting and challenging at the same time, yet people have misjudged it and perceived it as travelling in isolation.

Travelling is undoubtedly the best teacher one can ever have, and here are five reasons why everyone should travel alone once in their life.

Discover your inner-self
Travelling alone is probably the best way to make peace with your inner-self. It's an opportunity to explore your personality, just as you would explore the world, away from all the stress and hustle of daily life. It's a chance for you to break-free from a monotonous routine, and introspect on your thoughts, dreams, strengths and limitations. You never know; your best friend might just be hidden within you.

Forging new, long-lasting friendships
Travelling with a group of friends or family is always fun, but it also limits our interaction with others. While you ride solo on the road, you will most likely be engaging with the locals around you because there's no one holding you back. You may also get a chance to forge new friendships that you may cherish your entire life.

Getting out of your comfort zone
Travelling alone may seem scary or sound creepy, but it can be fun and exciting if you travel with an open mind.

Many a times, we let fear or comfort stop us from taking life's greatest risks, and end up missing out on truly rewarding experiences. Honestly, when you put yourself in a new environment, cut off from nearly everything you know, your priorities and attitude toward life changes.

Become a better storyteller
While travelling solo, there is a higher chance of you turning into an engaging storyteller, sharing every tit-bit you've gathered from your travels. You may end up sharing stories that have left a deep impact on you, bringing out a more refined and positive person in the process.
You'll also have something to share with your grandchildren for years to come, as there's nothing like embarking on a courageous journey alone. Even if you never travel alone again, you'll always look back and be appreciative about yourself, and the experiences you gained while stepping out of your comfort zone.

Money Management
Travelling alone will teach you how to save, spending only on what's necessary while enjoying a minimalistic lifestyle.

So, if you want to travel alone, stop making excuses. Life will always get in the way if you allow it to!
Yes. The reason is simply this:

Despite what you might think, you're probably less unique and special than you think you are.  Chances are that you have more things in common with your fellow classmates, coworkers, country-men than you'd like to believe. It's not a conspiracy, it's just culture. You belong to a culture and that culture, for better or worse, will limit your way of thinking.

When you travel alone, you're force to improvise, engage and belong to your new environment.  This will allow you to think outside of your normal cultural norms, observe other cultures and get a zoomed-out look on culture and it's influence.

As an Asian-American boy growing up in Silicon Valley, I had a pretty good upbringing. Good schools, good university and good job prospects. I grew up in a politically conservative, agnostic family with a strong belief in careerism. 

Here's some thoughts that changed while I went traveling the world:
What's it like to "drop everything" and go to Europe/Asia/explore the world?
  • I stopped thinking like an American and became more of a global citizen.
  • I got to understand the evolution of religions, culture and politics for many South American and Asian nations. I can think 'Latino' or 'Indonesian' or 'Brazilian' or 'Chinese' when I need to.
  • I began to believe more in fate, since I realized that I belong to a bigger picture and any person's influence over the world is quite limited.
  • There is no 'winner'.  Everyone compromises something to get something else.
  • Many things can be beautiful to many different people. Ugly things can effectively disappear by being ignored.

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