Mark Twain once said…
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
And he was right. Travelling allows you to discover new things, new people, new places, new experiences, new food. If you are from a 1st world country, it makes you appreciate just how lucky we are. If you are from a 3rd world country, travel it makes you realise just how disconnected people from 1st world countries are and how diminished there sense of kinship can be.
There is no doubt that having the privilege to travel with your friends, family or partner is amazing. Having and sharing these experiences brings you closer together. After all-great friends ships are built on experiences.
I was once with a group of friends climbing a mountain in the Pyrenees, France. We were climbing to a monastery that was built into the Rock. The hike was hard, some people were getting snappy, others powered ahead while some dragged behind.
When we finally made it to the top, we were greeted with spectacular views over the valley and a beautiful old building. We were exhausted and collapsed onto some chairs under the shade of a tree. Almost as soon as we had taken a seat the bells of the church started to ring. It was music to our ears, literally. Those beautiful sounding bells ringing out throughout the valley while standing on the top of a mountain in the Pyrenees, with all my exhausted friends was a memory I will never forget. And it just wouldn’t have been the same if I was alone.
I love having moments like those in my life that I can share with people forever.
But in saying all that, there is also something to be said for travelling by yourself.
You can learn a lot about yourself if travelling alone. You have to problem solve, plan and sometimes be very brave. But these are all skills that can be transferred into your every day life, whether it be at work, in relationships or in planning a party for your 2 yr old.
What I love most about travelling by myself, is that I get to spend as long as I want in front of some of the worlds best art work and just stare…soaking it all in. I don’t know if I will ever find someone to travel with who wants to stare at a Renoir as long as me. Or sit in front of Raphaels painting School of Athens until the shitty crowds and tour groups move along.
There are some other perks too. No one will judge you if you decide on $1 street food in Phnom Phen for lunch instead of a classy restaurant. No one will get annoyed when you spend 4 hrs trying on dresses in Century 21 in NYC.
Because you are travelling by yourself, and not caught up with the other people your with, you start to notice the little things. Even if the little things is the rats running along the floor in that restaurant in Thailand… You learn that you are brave enough to keep your composure and continue eating..and you survived.
You can get your driver in Bali to take you wherever you want to go. And you can sun bake on that deserted beach until the sun goes down.
By traveling by yourself, you start to appreciate the little things in your home life. Being able to take a shower without getting electrocuted for example.
Or even the privilege you have to choose your partners gender, choose your God or choose the clothes you’ll wear today, without persecution.
I would never have been as open minded, educated, accepting or appreciative if I hadn’t have traveled by myself and had these experiences.
It has made me who I am today and is an invaluable lesson we should all learn.