Solo travel takes you to the land of real.
What I mean by this is that, when you travel solo, you can be who you really are. You can “be” without being influenced by the expectations of people around you. Even those you love unwittingly impose constraints on you. Solo travel releases you from such constraints
I’ve experienced this first hand. For me, the Lake District and Patagonia (among many places) are lands of real.
The Lake District – a land of real.
Keeping it real is about being true to your values and yourself. It’s about focusing on what really matters and not being distracted by what doesn’t. It’s about speaking your mind openly which sometimes requires the space to learn what you really think about things first. And it is about knowing what you like to do which can mean trying new things that others aren’t willing to try.
Solo travel frees you for all of this. I will focus on the latter point.
In 2009 I went to the Lake District of England. I called it my digital detox because I went offline for five days. No phones, no Internet. I was really solo. In addition to my first digital detox it was my first trip that focused on villages and nature. I grew up in the city. My friends and family are city-focused. I had never been hiking before. The idea of walking (what the Brits call hiking) in the Lake District came from some vague, romantic notion of what it would be like.
The reality was quite different. It was hard. The fells (hills) were not the Rockies but they were challenging. And, at first, I had no idea why I was doing it. I really wasn’t sure that it was fun at all. But on the second morning, I woke up excited by the prospect of going again. I had discovered part of the real me. I had learned that I love hiking.
Patagonia and a new land of real.
A year and a bit later, I was on my way to Patagonia, Chile. Yes, I had taken this idea of hiking seriously but I had no idea whether I could take on mountains like those in Torres del Paine.
Meeting other solo travelers there, experienced hikers who had no idea how little hiking I had done, the expectations of me were high. With their enthusiasm and support, I learned just how well I could do. Yes, I climbed to the Towers. I made it.
Again, by being a solo traveler, I stretched myself. I expanded my understanding of me. I landed in the land of real
P.S. I was inspired to write this post while working in a coffee shop and eavesdropping on a conversation. As I was looking through my photos for the right one for a post, I was thinking how rarely I wore makeup when traveling. At the same time the women chatting were bemoaning the growing trend of botox and plastic surgery. The two thoughts collided. In a world where fake is becoming more common, solo travel promotes real.