Last December I did something I had never done before: I travelled to Australia by myself. I was super excited because it was something I had always wanted to try. This was a great opportunity to test it out and see if travelling solo was my thing. I only spent a couple of days on my own before I met up with some friends, so it wasn’t too scary for a beginner.
Of course travelling with friends is awesome. There will always be a special bond between people who have travelled together. You share great memories and inside jokes that you can talk about and laugh at together when you’re all old and wrinkly. When you’re travelling together, you always have someone to turn to and share your thoughts with. If you get sick or something else happens, your friends look after you.
But as I found out, spending some time alone can be just as fun. Travelling alone gives you a lot of freedom. You can do whatever you want whenever you want, and you don’t have to take anyone else’s opinions into account. If you feel like sitting in a café for three hours, you can do that. If you wake up at 7 a.m., you don’t have to wait for anyone else to wake up, you can just go. When you’re travelling alone you have a lot of time on your hands; time to sit back, relax and reflect on your thoughts. Sometimes we all need a little time alone. Not because we don’t like the people we’re with, but because we need to be with ourselves too. It’s important to do that every once in a while.
Of course I didn’t have to be completely by myself and isolated during those few days. I got help whenever I needed it. I learned to trust strangers. People came up to me and we ended up having long, deep conversations. That doesn’t usually happen when you’re in a bigger group of people. When there are more people it’s usually all about having fun and partying, which of course I have nothing against. But the encounters are, in a way, more authentic when there are just two people talking. Memories of those encounters follow you for the rest of your life. You probably won’t talk about them with your friends in the retirement home, but they stay with you in your heart.
When I met up with my friends and continued my trip with them, I didn’t miss being alone. Maybe I did have to take other people into account now and then and I couldn’t just do everything exactly as I wanted to, but it didn’t annoy me. I enjoyed having a good time with people I had known for years. I also knew I would be spending a few days alone again at the end of my trip, so I had plenty of time to enjoy the perks of being alone.
All in all, I had an amazing trip. I can’t really choose which one is the better option: exploring the world alone or sharing the experience with close friends. Maybe it’s because these two ultimately go hand in hand. When I was with my friends I told them about the things I experienced when I was alone. I talked about the thoughts I had had, the people I had met, the food I had eaten, and the places I had gone to. Similarly, when I was alone I often found myself thinking about the people in my life and smiling at the memories. Whenever I came across something funny or strange I made a mental note about it and thought: I can’t wait to tell them about this!
I don’t care how clichéd this sounds: the people that mean something to you stay with you. They follow you wherever you go. Whether you realise it or not, they’re in your thoughts, in your words, and in the way you experience the world. It doesn’t really matter if you have company or not.
You’re never completely alone.