By Dr Saliha Afridi, Lighthouse Arabia
As the summer travel season arrives, more and more people are looking to travel solo and embark on once in a lifetime holidays or experiences such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. So, why is this?
The reality is that more and more people are seeing solo travel as a way to reconnect with themselves. Technology has accelerated the pace of life and work. For parents, parenting in the 21st century is more hectic and demanding then ever before. Many people are feeling overwhelmed with the asks of life. There is very little room in a person’s daily life to connect with themselves, unless they have a daily practice of stillness and silence, which most people don’t. Traveling away from the things and people that pull on our attention creates the context and the space which makes it slightly easier for people to reconnect with themselves. Although I must add that if there is no discipline to stay off of technology, solo-travel will not serve its purpose of reconnecting with ourselves and with our environment. There are many who solo-travel but are still bogged down with their social media and their email. This kind of defeats the purpose of solo-travel in my personal view.
So, how can solo travel have a positive effect on our mental health and wellbeing?
It gives perspective - stepping away from your life and the people in it can make you realize some things about yourself and others that would not necessarily see when you are close to them. Gratitude or toxicity are most evident when we get space from our lives.
It creates space & solitude - when we travel alone and aren’t surrounded by the usual tasks and asks, so there is more time for stillness, solitude and space. This could be before sleeping or upon waking up in a room by yourself, or it could even be when one is surrounded by other people but the anonymity grants them space and silence. Having this space and stillness allows us to make contact with the part of us that often gets lost when we are in our daily life—and hear our inner voice. The mental space that is created also reduces the overwhelm people are experiencing in their fast-paced life.
It allows you to access different parts of you. Our brain is an associative device, and we can often get locked into certain roles and personas associated with our daily life without realizing it. Traveling alone allows us to break away from these roles and personas and try out different parts of us.
Many people say that the idea of traveling solo scares them or makes them anxious. One main reason why people are not able to spend time alone or don’t want to travel alone is that they do not feel comfortable with their own company.
Many are afraid they won’t have fun or they will be flooded with their thoughts and won’t have the distraction of other people to take them away from the influx of thoughts that shows up when they are alone.
If this is the case, I would tell them to start small and spend some time alone where you live. Take half a day and go to the park or the beach alone, or go sit in a coffee shop alone with a book. This way you get used to your own company and slowly you can start to have enough of a relationship with yourself where you can take a staycation alone, and eventually you can venture off into new territories alone.
Are you thinking about travelling solo this summer?