How traveling solo for 2 months has changed me

asiareflections

People ask me often what I learned from traveling in Asia for two months solo (recaps here and here), and quite honestly, I haven’t really had a good answer. At the end of the trip, I distinctly knew that I was deeply impacted by my trip but I also intuitively knew that it was going to take me months to integrate everything I learned and be able to understand and articulate how I changed and everything the trip meant to me.

So almost exactly 4 months since returning home, I’m ready to put this into words. As you’ll read, the trip had a massive impact on me and is by far one of the best things I’ve ever done, if not the absolute best. I hope that this post inspires you to do a little solo travel – it’s such a unique and transformative experience.

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here are a few ways I notice myself and my experience of life being different since my trip:

  1. I am even more devoted to living a life I absolutely love. Before my trip, I was already really devoted to this, but since coming home, it’s like these feelings are on steroids. I feel like there is a part of my soul that will NOT let me do things that don’t light me up and make me happy. Traveling blasts open your life perspective. You encounter SO many people doing different things, with varying lifestyles and priorities, and you realize that you are really in control of your life and you have a million options as to how you want to live it. Life is meant to be enjoyed, period. Sometimes being highly devoted to fully loving my life is frustrating because doing things that make me happy are also sometimes the hardest things to do. They are the riskiest. It means saying no to a lot of “ok” things and hoping that new things come along. I’m still wobbling my way through this one, but trying so hard to follow my heart and trusting that it’s leading me in the right direction.
  2. I see and experience love everywhere. One of the craziest things on my trip was how much love I felt. And I mean real love. Romance. Connection. Deep, butterflies in my stomach, love. I felt this constantly, more than ever in my life before. And it wasn’t from men (well, a small part of it was, but mostly not 😉 ). I fell in love with so many people and moments over there. I fell in love with the way people would talk to me like they had nowhere else they needed or wanted to be. I fell in love with the Thai and Vietnamese women who worked their asses off like I’ve never seen before. I fell in love with the hundreds of people I met who constantly blew me away with how much they cared about me, a total stranger. I fell in love with the culture and the endless opportunity to learn. I fell in love with countless coincidences and moments of “luck”. I fell in love with the bond that only travelers can instantly forge – knowing you immediately have something profound in common and the deep conversations you instantly have. I fell in love with how connected I felt even though I was alone. I fell in love all.the.time. I’ve always heard the quote “Love is everywhere” but I never quite understood it. On my trip, it became crystal clear. Love, romance, connection, butterflies – they can be found in a romantic relationship, and they can be found in so many other places. This was the first time I really experienced this to be true. Now that I’m home, I see and experience more love than ever before. From everyday experiences, people being incredibly kind, life working out in the most interesting ways, and in little moments with myself. I am so grateful that I can now see more of the love that surrounds us on a daily basis.
  3. My relationship with myself is on a completely different level. One of the weirdest things about going on this trip solo is that nobody will ever really know most of what happened other than me. I was the only one who went on this journey with myself. Even though I’ve shared a lot with you guys, family and friends, the experience still feels deeply intimate. It feels like a little treasure in my heart that only I really know about. The two months were really challenging at times. I had to rely on myself more than ever. I spent a ridiculous amount of time with just me and the thoughts in my head. I had to learn who I was in a lot of new ways. To go through such a challenging, awesome, and meaningful experience just with myself took my relationship with myself to a place I have always hoped it would be. I’ve noticed since coming home how much more inner, deep confidence I have. I choose myself first. I really love myself and who I am. “Rejection” and failure can happen, and it sucks, but my inner love and respect for myself is much more solid. This is one of the biggest gifts the trip has given me.
  4. I believe in the magic of life, and the beauty of letting go of control. I’ve always believed in “the Universe” or “God” or “something bigger than me”, but this trip took these feelings to another level. Just writing this gives me chills – I can’t tell you how many odd, coincidental, serendipitous things happened on my trip. I had this divine, overwhelming feeling that I was being “taken care of”. As you may remember, I went into this trip with no plan, just a oneway ticket. I was wandering around with very little structure, figuring out everything last minute. I took about 10 flights and slept in almost 20 accommodations. I ate all the street food I wanted. I was a 29 year old woman traveling solo. There was a lot that could have gone wrong. However…nothing ever really went wrong. I never got even the slightest bit sick. Never injured. When I was feeling lonely and needed friends, friends would appear. When I desperately needed help, help would come. I felt like I was always being guided. Now that I’m home, the magic hasn’t stopped. I am mesmerized, daily, by how life works. I think the magic has always been there, but my desire to CONTROL blocked me from experiencing it all the time.

When we sometimes sit back and let life do its thing, instead of constantly controlling our lives, we let the magic in.

I’m sure as time goes on I’ll realize even more about how the trip impacted me, but those are a few things I know are different these days. The transition coming home wasn’t easy – it actually took me a while to feel steady and integrated back into my day to day life here, and I think I’m still integrating aspects of what came up for me on that trip.

I am obviously a huge advocate for traveling, especially traveling solo, but I would encourage you to do any little thing that blows open your perspective. Do something totally different than you’d normally do on a Friday night. Visit a weird museum. Try out an activity that scares you. Go on a trip without planning anything and see where life takes you. Or, simply spend a day in your own city wandering about without a plan. Go try a new restaurant with food you’ve never tasted.

These are the experiences that can create new grooves in your brain and can leave an imprint on who you are. Seek adventure and expand your perspective.

I’m curious, what experience have you learned a lot from recently? A relationship? A trip? A mistake or failure? What are you learning these days? Or… where’s your next trip? That’s always a fun one!

Lots of love,

Jamie

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  1. So beautiful, Jamie. It sounds like it was an incredible experience and it’s inspiring to hear how you took it all in and let go to the universe.

  2. Loved this, especially #1, realizing that YOU control how you want to live your life. So true – thanks for the much-needed reminder! I traveled solo around SE Asia for five months in 2005. Following you on your travels brought back such great memories! I will never regret going on that trip – that experience, along with other solo adventures, still affect me years later. Solo travel is fantastic.

    • Wow a 5 month trip sounds so awesome! It’s so nice to hear that the trip affects you so many years later. It’s crazy how big of an impact an experience like that can have on you. xoxo.