If you’ve noticed, traveling is being heavily advertised in recent years. Airline companies are in cutthroat competition for budget deals, accommodations of various forms (apartelles, serviced apartments, and couches surfing) are sprouting everywhere and tech companies are launching social media platforms, apps, and gadgets that encourage people to see more of the world. Indeed, this is the golden era of global tourism.
Why do people travel? Leaving the comforts of your home for an unknown terrain doesn’t exactly sound like fun. Sure, you can get to take amazing photos and share how wonderful your life is on social media, but is that all? Discover the best part of traveling from life lessons of 6 solo travelers.
Traveling as a stress buster
Lucas, a 29-year-old advertising executive, has made a pledge to climb three mountains each year. “Before I decided to join my mountaineer-friends, I would release my stress drinking on weekends. I used to work well beyond office hours and party until morning. ‘Work hard, party harder’, was my mantra. Things changed when I was diagnosed with a liver disease. At 27, I faced the painful truth that I may not make it to my 35th birthday. One day, one of my traveler-friends invited me to a whole-day hike. I accepted the invitation, and never looked back.” Lucas’ first travel experience was an effective stress buster. The new environment cleared his mind. He found a new reason to live: to climb more mountains and cross more rivers.
Traveling as a break from painful experiences
Ana Lisa thought that she reached the end of the road when her husband left her for another woman. “I had everything. At 30, I was running a successful IT company. My husband and I were planning to have children after we bought a three-bedroom house in metropolis. Then after three years of blissful marriage, my husband suddenly left me. It felt like getting struck by a lightning. I lost my enthusiasm, purpose,and overall value for life.” Ana Lisa was browsing online when she came across a travel website. It didn’t take long for her to book a flight to the former French Indochina. “Being a traveler taught me that there’s life after my failed marriage. I’ve met new friends, found new hobbies, and more importantly, new reasons to wake up every morning.”
Traveling as a therapy
Timothy was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. He avoids public places, fearing that people will stare at him or make fun of him. Initially, his mother thought that it was just a phase of adolescence and that Timothy will soon gain self-confidence and learn to deal with other people. When he reached 25, things didn’t change. In fact, his anxiety worsened and affected his quality of life. “I struggled to keep a job because I was never comfortable working with other people. There was a time when I called in sick just so I can skip a division-wide meeting. Since then, going out was a pain. I finally agreed to see a doctor when my family pleaded me to.” Today, 32-year-old Timothy is one of the most experienced solo travelers you’d ever meet. His doctor advised him to explore the health benefits of beach vacations. Timothy was hesitant at first, but his commitment to get better was stronger. “The seas calm me. When I look at the horizon, nothing else matters. I make it a point to spend a day in the beach every month.”
Traveling is a new way of living
“Why is traveling good for the soul?” asked 23-year-old writer Ysabella. “For a time, I thought that people who keep on posting their photos eating noodles in Singapore or shopping in Dubai were just fishing for compliments. Traveling was the new black, so to speak. Everyone is getting on it. I tried traveling out of curiosity. At 22, I was working as a copywriter and honestly, my pay was not enough for an out-of-country vacation. I started visiting the countryside—the rice fields, rivers, beaches, and mountain trails. Then, I started writing about my little adventures on my blog. People liked it. I didn’t realize the impact of traveling at first. It was gradual. I was more enthusiastic, more open to opinions, and hungrier for new adventures. Now, I’m a professional traveler—I write for a travel magazine. I have the best life ever!”
Traveling as a life curriculum
“As an anthropology student, you may think that I’m well-traveled,” 22-year-old Daniel said. “My thesis was about the indigenous communities in South America. I was 19 when I flew to Bolivia, then to Peru. I tell you, it’s so much different compared to what I read in books. It’s so much better! I’ve met new people and learned about their traditions and cultures from them.” Daniel is graduating this year, and plans to keep on documenting tribes in secluded parts of the planet. “Travel learnings are not confined in the academic studies of cultures and societies. Essentially, it’s about people. How do you get to know people? Talk to them, dine with them, listen to their problems, marvel at their dreams.”
Traveling as an advocacy
Georgina, a 32-year-old economist, used to live a nine-to-five life. Her travels were primarily business-related, so she couldn’t exactly say if she liked it. “My trips meant traveling between meetings and conferences, then back to my hotel room. The people I dealt with were either business partners or clients, and the small talks with flight attendants and hotel staff. Everything changed when I joined friends to a Southeast Asian tour.” Georgina ditched her high-end accommodation for modest hotel rooms. It was then that she found the wonders of being a traveler—living the life of an outsider. “I now make it a point to visit a new place once every quarter. Not only that, I’ve started a project where I’d choose one local library and fill one section with books donated by my family, friends and colleagues.”
There are countless things you can learn while traveling. Some find a break from their hectic lifestyle, others discover emotional healing. It depends on what you’re yearning for. You may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but you’ll definitely find something worth discovering.