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The thought of jet-setting on my own always sparked some sort of fireworks in me. I’m yet to figure out whether that’s courtesy of witnessing my family pack up their lives in big boxes to move abroad, or if the thank you is truly owed to Catriona Rowntree and the numerous Getaway episodes I saw as a 10-year-old. Nature vs nurture strikes again.

More than anything, solo travel is an immense learning experience, peppered with the excitement of experiencing new cultures and stunning scenery.

The first time I set foot on a plane for a one-woman venture, I was 20 and living at home. Hopping off the breezy four-hour flight, the overwhelming sense of freedom hit me as much as the crisp New Zealand air. Both were gentle reminders that life was good.

More than anything, solo travel is an immense learning experience, peppered with the excitement of experiencing new cultures and stunning scenery.

Here are a few things I learnt and loved about it:

Planning everything on your own accord

Holidays are strictly guilt-free occasions. Without the weight of pleasing anyone, your to-do list can be filled with whatever you feel like, whether that’s everything or absolutely nothing.

As someone who’s prone to seasickness, booking an all-day cruise was probably one thing I could have saved for when I had company. But learning from your mistakes is just one of the abundance of life lessons you take away from globetrotting solo, right next to overcoming any existing fears.

Despite my unfortunate affliction, that cruise gave me time to finally finish reading my book. And write – a lot. Self-reflection inherently becomes part of your daily itinerary, whether or not you had meant to put it there.

I remember staring at the mountains in awe, and thinking how proud I was of myself for having gotten myself, by my own means, somewhere new. I realised that if I worked hard enough, I could treat myself to spectacular views anytime I wanted.

Learning how to be independent

It can be as simple as finding your way back to your apartment. Nothing forces you to leave your comfort zone more than navigating your way through a foreign city, lugging around a 15kg bag and being completely lost in translation. That’s essentially how I fell in love with Japan.

In a bustling city full of neon lights, beautiful chaos and life, you’re taught to be switched on – self-aware as ever, ultimately testing your independence and problem-solving skills. You’ll also cross paths with the most interesting people along the way.

You’ll spot other lone travellers, be inspired by vagabonds, and make new friends – even if it’s just for the day.

Practising mindfulness

Regardless of how much money you intentionally delegated as shopping expense, the notion of materialism immediately goes out the door when you’re confronted with other people’s circumstances.

You’re left with immense appreciation and gratefulness. As here you are, dressed to the nines, while there’s someone your age on the other side of the world, barely getting by but they’re smiling nonetheless. Suddenly, your problems are redundant.

Everyone should do it

The notion of travelling solo may not innately be instilled in everyone, but it’s something I couldn’t recommend highly enough. If for no other reason than coming home with an open mind.

Whether it’s a 15-hour flight, or simply crossing the ditch, a healthy venture on your own does wonders for self-growth and your mental wellbeing – like a detox and a therapy all at once, with the added bonus of immersing yourself in other cultures and amazing new memories.

You’re thrown right into the deep end, forced to figure everything out as you go. And it’s one of the only times in life where uncertainty feels elating.

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Nikki Escalante

Nikki is a Melbourne-based writer with an avid love for fashion, beauty and a hearty home-cooked meal. In between reading, curating pop playlists and weekend roadtrips, she’s often roaming around art galleries or daydreaming about Tokyo. All-black outfits are spiced up with a green tea in hand, and riverside walks are made a little better with her Jack Russell sidekick, Lacey.

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