Solo travel is amazing for so many reasons. (I know, I know, I've said as much before.) But beyond the incredible sights and self-selected journeys, travelling alone is really one of the best ways to know yourself. I know it sounds a little corny, but solo travel has provided me with the opportunity to explore various sides of my personality and understand myself better through new and challenging experiences.
It's also an excellent way to further develop your gut instincts. When I'm travelling, I try to be a "yes" person as much as possible. It's a strategy that's helped me to accumulate a lot of crazy stories, but it's also helped me to learn when and how to say no. No one way is going to work for everyone, but this is a general guideline I use to make decisions when I'm travelling solo. To me, maximizing your travel experience means taking advantage of great opportunities while staying safe.
it scares you (just a little bit).
Sometimes fear is a warning to stop and get out immediately. Sometimes that nervous fear is what lets you know that you're on to something incredible. Knowing the difference between the two is a skill worth cultivating.
it will significantly add to your travel experience.
it's something you've always wanted to try.
it doesn't sound like something you'd normally do.
When I decided to take a little break from teaching and spend a month in Guatemala building houses, there was a good half of my brain that told me I was insane. I was used to working with my mind to make money, and my most physically demanding job up until that point was serving. I wasn't a labourer by any means. But doing something physical like that helped me discover something I truly love. It made me feel strong, powerful and confident. It's helped me realize how adaptable and capable I am, and that's definitely something I've carried forward into my work life.
Say "no" if...
you feel genuinely uncomfortable or unsafe.
While I was in Antigua, a group of the girls I was staying with really wanted to go to a house party a guy they knew (although not well) was throwing after the salsa bar let out for the night. It didn't sound like something I'd normally do, but there was a large group of us and we'd hung around with these people before, so I said yes. We climbed up these insane, winding stone steps to this cute condo with next to no furniture inside. For a while we made polite and giggly conversation, and then the drugs started coming out. As I looked around at the girls I was with (a number of whom were crossing over into the sleepy drunk phase) I knew it was time to go. I felt uncomfortable. So I rounded everyone up and we all stumbled home together. Does the fact that I went to this party at all make a cool story? Sure. Am I glad I left when I did? Definitely.
it's going to bust your budget.
If saying yes to this means not being able to afford anything else, decline: plain and simple.
it seems too good to be true.
In my experience, if it seems too good to be true, that's because it probably is. When Chris and got time-shared in Vegas, it seemed almost too easy. Listen to a presentation for a while = get a bunch of free tickets. Yay! Hours later, after explaining to people of various levels of authority, that "No, we weren't interested in making a major financial decision on the spot while on vacation," we finally got our "free" stuff. It turned out that pretty much all of the tickets required some sort of charge or fee that we were responsible for covering. Lesson learned.
So, what about you? Do you have any strategies for maximizing your own travel experiences? Funny stories from times when you were still learning to trust your gut? I'd love to hear them!
This post is part of a collaboration with creditcardinsider.com, a great resource for finding the best credit card to meet your travel needs. They have some great pointers on their website, so if you're shopping around for a card, check them out! The content of this post is original to me, and this is not a sponsored post.