I had this longing to get away from everything and everyone for a while.
I had been suffering with an illness for about four years, and after continuous negative news from doctors, exhaustion got the better of me. So, I quit my job, bought a one way ticket to the other side of Australia, and went travelling for six months with no plan whatsoever.
Here are 19 jewels of wisdom I learned while travelling alone and now apply to my everyday life back home in Perth:
1. Depending purely on yourself
Sometimes we don’t realise how much people can influence us in our everyday life, whether it’s our family, friends, partner, collogues, or social surroundings. I had been putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinions of what I should do over listening to my own voice. Travelling on my own was the first time I can really say I truly depended on myself more then ever without feeling bad about it or having to explain myself.
2. Learning a new culture
We can become so accustomed to our surroundings, home, and society that we operate subconsciously without thinking about whether it’s helping us grow or not. Embracing other cultures and ways of living can broaden our lifestyle views. On the contrary, I grew a deep appreciation for what I had back home like being able to visit my family any time I wanted.
3. Making new friends outside your circle
I became one of those tourists who made sure I let shopkeepers know I wasn’t a local (not that they asked or anything). Amazing how quickly you can make friends that way by just talking about yourself. Awkward. I was nervous checking out new places with someone I didn’t know. There is nothing like hanging out with that friend (back home) who you can be 100 percent yourself around, however it was exciting to do something I hadn’t done before. I was shown amazing sites, forests, hidden caves, and made memories for a lifetime.
The freedom was the best part of travelling alone; doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. Whether we are travelling or no, this is the ultimate feeling. However, once back home, our daily demands, responsibilities, and the people in our lives can be the cause of freedom being a mere fantasy. The feeling of freedom when you are travelling or on holiday, I believe, is something you can feel in everyday life. And it’s because of this experience that I pushed towards that belief and implemented it into my daily attitude giving myself more time to do the things I love doing. I feel I am actually living my life now.
5. Hearing your inner voice
Being alone most of the time, you can hear your thoughts a lot more. Even though I did spend time listening to my thoughts back home, being completely alone for a while heightened them. I was able to listen a lot more and see aspects of myself that I had ignored or not even noticed. It definitely sharpened the importance of digging deeper into myself and really focusing on my inner thoughts, habits, and reactions to life.
6. Reinventing yourself or truly being yourself
No one knows you, so it’s a great opportunity to try that style you think about but haven’t had the courage to try. Or is that just something I daydreamed about? I had been in the corporate world for many years, but secretly, I wished I could embrace the beach hippie in me at times. Oh and I finally did. I went to the beach almost everyday, left the salty water in my hair for days, wore comfy clothes and my jingle bell anklet. I absolutely enjoyed not having to worry about how I looked for anyone or anything. It certainly made me realise how much effort I put in for people and work, a habit of which I have now definitely broken.
7. Going without makeup
For those who wear makeup everyday, this is such a great opportunity to let your skin breath. I took advantage of letting go of my “need” for make-up as I wore it everyday for work for years and it became second nature. At first, it was a vulnerable feeling wearing no makeup to places that I would usually wear it, but after some time, I felt liberated, and my need for it daily is no longer. I wear it when I want, not because I have too. And do you know how much more time you have on your hands when you don’t have to put on another face? Time gained equals more adventures.
8. Break from Facebook
I took one month off Facebook, completely closing my account on my travels. Rather than upload all my adventures and check-in everywhere, I wrote about it in my journal. Spending time in nature without the use of Facebook or my phone on many occasions, became a clear indication of how much I was using it mindlessly and missing out on what’s going on around me. It was liberating to disconnect for a while and be content with the moment—just with the view and with my own thoughts. The mind needs to be free at times to be creative, to think clearly, and to refresh.
9. Doing all the things you have been putting off
There is more time on your hands to do some of the things you put aside due to restrictions and responsibilities at home. Depending on your interests and hobbies, this can be a great way to throw yourself into your passions using inspiration from your travels. I spent so much time reading and writing which actually assisted in my pursuing of it now.
10. Reassessing your life
I wanted to study for years and also write, but due to focusing on work in real estate, I kept postponing it. Whilst I was away, I made the decision to go after my dreams and stop waiting for the perfect moment. Reassessing my life helped me let go of what did not serve purpose in my life anymore and to have the courage to pursue what I believed did.
11. Experience and memories only you know about
We love sharing memories and experiences with others, but let’s face it, when we share our stories of travelling with most people, they are hardly interested. Doing things that only you know about is actually a wild feeling. It’s like a friendship between you and yourself that no one understands, experiences only you feel. Keeping them close to your heart is sometimes better than sharing. I definitely built a better relationship with myself, and I smile at all the wonderful things I have done, on my own.
12. Trusting yourself to think and decide for yourself
I was always someone who gained advice from others who I trusted, and whilst their advice wasn’t “wrong,” it was my need for it that kept me away from doing what was in my heart to do. I didn’t trust myself enough to follow through with ideas that I had, also leaning on my career as an excuse many times. Until I went travelling alone, I wasn’t aware of how much I relied on others rather then myself. Trusting my inner intuitions and what I think is best for me has assisted in my health, physically and mentally. The unknown doesn’t seem so scary now. Sometimes we want people to advise us because we are too fearful of taking a step out on our own, but what if what they are saying is the reason you prevent yourself from living your dreams?
13. Overcoming the fear of being alone
Doing everything by yourself for a period of time shows you how much you can be happy, content, and safe in your own company when you want to be. It breaks the tendency to just “hang” with people due to not wanting to be alone. I will admit, there were periods of time where it felt awful on Saturday nights with no one but myself, however, I got through just fine and I became more engaged in my writing, reading, and music. Sometimes over-socialising is a distraction from doing what we really need to do on our own—self-development.
From observation, in today’s world, patience is a characteristic in the human being that is being very quickly replaced with the need for everything now. Whether it is success, the “perfect” body, money, overcoming battles, or relationships, there is urgency in our social surroundings to scrap patience and rush through life. I wasn’t working and I didn’t know what the next day would bring or whether I would have enough money to keep travelling. As I committed myself to being open to whatever happens is meant to be, patience grew. I was able to grasp the importance of patience and put it to practice.
15. People back home
Being apart from loved ones is difficult but it is also a great way to strengthen the bonds you have. It was also an eye-opener to how much I gave myself to some people who took our friendship for granted. When it comes to friendships quality over quantity is best and the time away really set that in stone. I came back uninterested in friendships that were filled with neediness, control, and drama. My time is precious and I finally took the courage in setting barriers against the life suckers. Amazing how time away alone can really open your eyes to unhealthy friendships that were right under your nose for a long time.
The amount of gratitude I experienced came on many levels. I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to travel as well as what I already had back home. I met a woman on my travels that really placed emphasis on the importance of taking the time to be thankful for things in your life daily and how you will receive more by doing so. Taking it on board straight away, I started voicing my thank you to life and looking for things to be thankful for. A deep appreciation for what I have each day, the people I meet, and the challenges that come my way has opened my heart to the blessings that are existent every single day.
17. Time to refocus on your health
As we are always growing and changing, so do our bodies. Different circumstance in our life may bring about better or worse health. For many years, I suffered with an ongoing illness, doctors and specialists had no answers for me and I grew exhausted from the never-ending bad news. I was leading a healthy life but something was missing. Part of the reason I decided to travel alone was to explore other avenues of gaining health after researching stories of people who had made amazing comebacks after serious illnesses. I spent the majority of my time focusing on my health, relaxing, distressing, researching, trying out new foods, meeting people in the health industry, and again being open to other ways. It was a big wake up call to stretch myself and my knowledge in nutrition and the viscous poison of stress! Let’s just say, I don’t suffer with illness anymore.
18. Not caring what anyone thinks
As I walking down to the beach one particular day, in short shorts and my pale white skin, I felt insecurity setting in as I compared myself to the beach babes that were like…everywhere! Thankfully, a wonderful and very true thought struck me, why do I care about what others think of me? And how do I even know if people think about me? I mean, conceited much? It was in that moment I made a choice to push aside those limiting thoughts and be proud of who I am, even if I have cellulite wobbling around. Beaching it on the Gold Coast daily, with that new insight, made it so much more enjoyable.
19. Going with the flow
I seriously got a really big dose of what it feels like to go with the flow. Every time I feel fear or stress creeping in, I think back to this adventure. It has become a reference point and reminder of how letting go and being open to whatever happens, can do wonders in your life.
This was a decision that changed my life for the better. Doing something completely for myself, out of my comfort zone, has bought about expansion andit for yourself and add to the list!