1. “You Hate Being Alone!” – don’t worry – this one is just temporary! As the plane takes off and you soon land in a new country, you are likely to be overwhelmed by a sheer sense of panic and the realisation that yes, you are completely and utterly alone in a whole new world! Hold on tight! As they say “sometimes the hardest things in the life are the right things in life.”
2. “You appreciate new friendships” – You begin to find comfort in others that you would, once upon a time, class as strangers. You find yourself approaching other travellers, opening to locals and appreciating the people you meet along the way.
3. “You enjoy being alone” – A few days into your trip it is likely that you will begin to feel more comfortable being on your own. You realise just how friendly other travellers are, how easy it is to join a new group of people and appreciate the solo moments.
4. “You find out what kind of traveller you are” - When embarking on a solo adventure you have no peers to influence your decisions. You get to do what you want, when you want and where you want – whether it be hiking, walking aimlessly through a city or partying it up in a different city each week.
5. “You trust your intuition” – With no one to point you in the right (or wrong) direction, you suddenly find the courage to trust your own instincts – you have no other choice!
6. “You learn to be tolerant of differences” – They say you need to walk in another man’s shoes to understand his world. Backpacking allows us to experience life in another culture. You begin to warm to opposing beliefs, customs and ways of life. This is turn, makes you much more understanding of differences in the diverse world in which we live
7. “You find out what is important to you” – As your mind is introduced to new people, sights, smells and sounds – you develop the ability to look at your ‘real’ life at home objectively. You question what habits, goals and lifestyle choices you once thought were important really matter to you.
8. “And realise the things that aren’t so important” – As the journey gets longer and longer, you start to collect items on the road that have meaning... Souvenirs and tokens of a memorable experience. In turn, your hair straightener, phone, laptop and brand new shoes – slowly start to make their way to the bottom of the backpack.
9. “You find out who your real friends are” – Your true friends and family love you for you, and don’t ask for a constant update. When you return – you will pick up exactly where you left off. On the other hand, others may not relate to the “new you” or become tired of crazy and unbelievable stories – life’s too short to waste on haters!
10. “You learn that you are solely responsible for you own destiny” - You’ve missed buses, lost bank cards, underestimated the amount of time it takes to get to the airport, forgot to book a hostel following a late night flight arrival and have found yourself in a few too many ‘sticky’ situations. When solo – you have no one else to blame but yourself. You take full responsibility for your mistakes, learn from them and move on.
11. “You become a stronger and more confident person” – You’ve travelled to a whole new country on your own, you’ve learnt to trust your own decisions, you’ve made lifelong friends out of strangers and you have had no other choice but to take full responsibility for your travels. You return to your home country where you know the streets and can relate to the people – nothing can stop you now!
12. “You learn to chill” – ‘Real’ life can be hectic, busy and overwhelming. Everybody has got to be somewhere, at this time, on this day. As soon as you step off that plane your breath becomes slower and deeper. You’re in no rush. You’ve got goals but you know that the journey is just as important as the destination. You learn to take a step back and smell the roses!
13. “You become a communicator” – There’s only so much technology and your iphone can help you when embarking on a solo trip to another country. Sure Google maps is an absolute saviour when you’re on the road – but there’s something technology can’t provide you with – human nature – the ability to read body language, make new friends and use your instinct to navigate around countries. You realise that TRUE human connection is what really matters.