How Traveling Solo Healed Me

Visiting James Bond Island

Visiting James Bond Island

I was at a low point in my life when I decided to pack my bags and head half way across the world.

After making a career as one of the youngest national news anchors in Canada, my station shut down and less than 24 hours alter I was dumped. Three Kleenex boxes later, I did what any logical single and recently unemployed girl would do, I booked a solo trip to Thailand.

My ten-day trip included stops in Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi. I visited the incredibly beautiful Ao Phang Ngo (aka James Bond Island). I partied at a ladyboy cabaret show. I fed wild monkeys. I swam with sharks. I visited the beach from the movie the Beach (even more beautiful in person). I overcame my fears and rode an elephant. I danced my butt off at a full moon party. I prayed for the first time at the Big Buddha. I ate my weight in Thai food.

But the most important thing I did was find myself again.

It is not often we get to truly spend time listening to ourselves. Figuring out our needs. Discovering our passions. I had been so caught up in what others expected from a 25 year old, that I forgot what I really wanted from myself.

Traveling by myself was truly the best thing I ever did. And here are five reasons I think everyone should travel by themselves at some point in their life.

 being blessed at the Big Buddah

 being blessed at the Big Buddah

a beautiful hike at sunset

a beautiful hike at sunset

You are the master of your itinerary

Sure, traveling with a group can be a blast, but it can also be a pain because you all have to agree on what to do and when. Traveling solo you can do whatever you want whenever you want no permission or compromise needed. You want to wake up at the crack of dawn to climb a mountain? Sounds great. You want to party until dawn on a beach in the middle of nowhere? Awesome! Do You!

You have chance to connect with yourself

Maybe this is the trip to the big Buddha talking, but traveling on your own allows you plenty of you time. During that time you can dig deep and figure out what makes you really happy and what you want out of life. It is an amazing opportunity to connect with the most important person, you.

You become more independent

feeding time at Monkey Beach

feeding time at Monkey Beach

A Thai fishing boat

A Thai fishing boat

I found myself constantly singing that really catchy tune from Kelly Clarkson, you know “Ms. Independent” because that is how I felt.  You have to make your own decisions, you have to solve your own problems, you have to learn how to use a real map, you know, that’s made from paper and you can’t update with every new destination (yes, they still exist and are hella useful when data is like $100/GB). You only have one person to rely on and that person is yourself. So many times in the "real world" there is always someone nearby who can help bail you out of a sticky situation, but when you are in a foreign country, all alone, solving problems is totally up to you.

You feel more satisfied at the end of the trip

It seems that whenever you travel with a friend, or a group, there is always going to be some kind of drama. Whether it is disagreeing on activities, or places to visit, it is almost impossible for everyone to agree. When you are on your own it is peace and quiet. The only thing you have to worry about is if your margarita is near the bottom. You feel more relaxed, rejuvenated, and accomplished.

You make a ton of new friends

Traveling on your own can be scary. Will you be lonely and miserable the whole time? Only if you want to be. You have the choice to connect with other people, get tips from the locals or learn from like-minded travelers. You may even find a travel buddy for your next adventure!

I know, traveling on your own can seem pretty scary, so I also have a few tips for planing that solo vacation.

some friends I made along the way

some friends I made along the way

and of course my new friend Pancho the Elephant

and of course my new friend Pancho the Elephant

Tips for traveling on your own: 

  • Plan ahead of time. I felt pretty safe on this trip because I had my hotels and transportation booked ahead of time instead of worrying last minute and putting myself in a potential unsafe environment
  • Always carry good identification on you
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy clothes or jewellery, don’t make yourself a target
  • leave a copy of your itinerary and contact info with a friend so someone knows where you are at all times
  • keep to open and public places especially at night time 

So what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and go explore the world. It is your oyster after all.

some more photos from my solo Thailand trip

Mia Gordon