Solo Travel Makes You A Superhero!

Solo travel is awesome, travelling alone is the best way to see the world and have one hell of a grand adventuyre, but it isn’t always easy. Solo Travel will push you out of your comfort zone and force you through a baptism of fire the likes of which you have never faced before. It can be scary, it can be hard, but it will make you stronger, harder, and more like a superhero!

I have written a lot in the past about how awesome solo travel is and it is absolutely true, but that doesn’t mean it is without its problems, perils and pitfalls too. The truth is solo travel isn’t for everyone and for those who do travel alone there will be times when it can be hard, but for those intrepid solo backpackers who take on the challenge, it is these times that can – and will – turn you into a damn superhero!

It isn’t just about increasing your overall level of awesomeness just because you have travelled the world, although to some extent that is a given. This newly elevated superhero status just doesn’t arrive simply by virtue of all the amazing things you will see and do. It isn’t even about the fact that world travel can improve your mind, your soul and even your physical body far beyond what you were when you first bought that plane ticket. It is a given that the things you accomplish and the feats you achieve when travelling the world solo that will elevate you above the mere mortals you left back home, but it is more than that.

Although all these things certainly do play a part in your transformation from a meek, mild mannered worker bee to an all around awesome travel superhero, (the cape is of course optional)! Your transformation into full on travel deity can only be achieved through a baptism of fire that only those who have been through it can truly attest to.

Michael Huxley Travel In Dangerous Countries

Solo Travel Can Be Scary.

I still maintain that solo travel is the best way to see the world. It will open your eyes and send you on a journey of self discovery as much as it will allow you to explore the countries and cultures you are visiting.

But for many travellers, especially those who have never  backpacked alone before – or have even travelled anywhere – it can be an extremely scary and nerve wracking prospect. That is understandable, everyone feels the same before they take their first trip. It’s normal.

These nerves go far beyond the usual concerns and fears about safety and security, they are often far more than just getting carried away with the usual fear mongering that is pushed by the mass media, and often your parents, friends and love ones too.

Having concerns and wanting to take practical steps to ensure your own safety is a good idea. In fact it is absolutely essential. Listening to that spider sense in the back of your mind and knowing how to act is an essential part of keeping yourself safe anywhere, not just on your travels. But the nerves about solo travel often go deeper than that.

What I am talking about here is the fear of  going alone, of feeling alone, the fear of being exposed, of not having that safety net of someone to back you up, the fear of not being able to cope.

I’m telling you now that it is absolutely okay to be a little nervous about solo travel at first. It is normal to be a little afraid, it is normal to be a little apprehensive. These are natural human emotions. You will not be a travel superhero overnight and no one will expect you to be. What we do expect you to do, if you are to become a true travel superhero, is to overcome them.

Michael Huxley Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Don’t Let Fear Overwhelm You And Stop You From Following Your Dreams.

One of the biggest problems for many first time travellers is that their upcoming solo trip will be the first time they have ever been alone – truly alone – for any significant length of time. Whatever happens on your trip – good or bad – you will only have yourself to rely on, you won’t have that safety net of another person to fall back on if things go wrong, no one will be there to hold your hand, and this is often a great source of worry for many people.

It is important to remember that on any trip things can and often will go wrong. Transport will get delayed, you will make the odd cultural faux pas, you may get sick or have to deal with any number of cons, scams or emergencies. Whatever it is nothing will go right for you all the time.

Travel isn’t like that, life isn’t like that.

Hard Times Make You Stronger.

Despite this it is equally important to remember that whilst it is almost inevitable that things will go wrong, it is how you react and deal with these situations that can make you or break you.

Being put through the fire of the forge and the hammer of the anvil makes the weapon harder, stronger, less likely to break under pressure. And the same is true for solo travellers.

Apart from giving you some awesome tales to tell back home, the mishaps and problems that can occur on your travels can make you stronger and more able to deal with anything that happens in the future. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share! I’ve been caught in a sandstorm, lost in the jungle, caught up in the arab spring and so many more, but many of these have become some of my best travel stories! Every little problem that you come across is a learning experience ensuring you will have the confidence and the knowledge to deal with it better next time. Every emergency is a hammer blow that will forge you into a stronger, more confident person.

Michael Huxley Himalaya Road Trip Mountains

Superman had to face his kryptonite to be considered a hero, Iron Man had to become a hero without his armour, Green Lantern literally had to face fear itself, and the Hulk, well the Hulk pretty much just smashed things. But none of them became superheroes without facing that fire.

The more you are forced to rely on yourself to deal with emergencies, the calmer, stronger and more independent you become. Your ability do navigate lifes problems and hardships becomes your suit of armour. Your resilience and resolve in the face of anything the world can throw at you becomes your sword and shield. That strength translates into every aspect of your life, every fibre of your being, even long after you have finished your trip and come home.

The strength and the confidence that comes with knowing you can deal with anything will change you for the better. That paperwork problem at work will seem like child’s play compared to the time you had to deal with embassy red tape when you lost your passport. That tiny little illness will be something to just shake off after you gave altitude sickness the middle finger at 15,000 feet. The emergencies that crop up in everyday life will be more bearable after you have faced down much worse situations on your own and outside of your comfort zone. Those petty squabbles and differences of everyday life will seem so insignificant and irrelevant after you have seen some of the most wondrous, awe inspiring sites on the planet off your own initiative.

Trust me.

Confidence doesn’t just come from thin air, and if you want to be able to face any situation in your personal life or your future career with the unflappable, ice cold sophistication of James Bond on a schmoozefest, then you have to earn that.

Once you have dealt with your first tout, your first scam, your first lost ticket, passport or other travel emergency, you will find it easier to deal with next time and not only learn valuable lessons on how you can deal with future situations, but the simple fact that you can deal with them too. You will have proven to yourself that you can handle it on your own. And that is a truly liberating revelation.

But it isn’t just learning how to deal with bad experiences that makes the solo traveller a superhero. Solo travel also forces you to look deep into yourself, into who you truly are as an individual. Those often exalted times where you can do what you want, when you want without worrying about anyone else can also sometimes turn into your worst nightmare if you let it. Not everyone is comfortable in their own company at first, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of having no one they know around them. They will crave company, friendship, companionship. You see, being truly alone imposes a need for introspection, it forces you to truly look at who you are, at all the good and the bad, and to become comfortable with that.

Michael Huxley hiking through the desert in Masada National Park Dead Sea Israel

Being alone will force you to look deeply at all those little chinks in the armour, all those little flaws that every single one of us has. It will force you to recognise and acknowledge them.

What scares you exactly? What exactly are you afraid of? All of those times spent alone in cafe’s or food courts when you don’t feel like being alone, those times spent in crowded hostels when you could use a little space, the awesome people you meet who will force you to talk, to interact. All of these and many more will expose your inner personality. It will show you who you really are, the good and the bad.

You Have To Do The Things That Scare You In order To Grow.

If the thought of walking into a crowded food court or a busy restaurant on your own fills you with dread, the best way to deal with that is to just do it. If the thought of talking to people you have never met before in a hostel worries you, then the only way to get past that is to walk over and say hello. (Backpackers are generally a friendly bunch, I promise they won’t bite!) If you think you can’t explore that tourist site on your own, then get out there and do it! You’ll probably find that you can!

Solo travel forces you to do that. It forces you to get past those little worries and concerns. 

Because when you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want, who you really are on the inside comes out. All those roles we play at home to fit into social, family or work situations will get stripped away. Who you are on the inside is on display for everyone – including yourself – to see. You have to deal with it. You have no choice. It isn’t about getting rid of those flaws by some magical form of attrition, those flaws are an innate part of you. Solo travel isn’t a miracle cure all that will turn everyone into revered demigods overnight. It is about learning about our own flaws and understanding and accepting them. It is about knowing who we are as complete individuals, not as a friend, a brother, a mother, a daughter, a nurse, a teacher, or whatever other role you slip into when you are at home. It is about becoming comfortable with each and every aspect of our individual personalities and learning to live with them.

Michael Huxley desert trekking Aruba

Solo Travel Is About Learning Who You Really Are And Being Comfortable With That!

Being completely at ease with who you truly are is an amazing feeling. When you have no role to play, no one to impress or no societal or familial rules telling you who you are and how you have to behave, you can reinvent yourself. You can truly discover who you are, what you want to be, and you can follow the path that makes you truly happy.

Too many people go through life unhappy because they are essentially living someone else’s life, they are acting in a role of the person everyone else expects them to be, they aren’t living their life in a way that is true to who they are or what they want.

Even worse than that a great many people don’t even know that, they don’t know who they truly are because they have never had the chance to truly scrutinise themselves outside of their comfort zone, they have no idea why they are unhappy because they have never had the opportunity to explore that side of themselves.

Once you know who you are, once you are comfortable in your own company, then any worry, concern or problem you face will intrinsically become much easier to deal with. When you can do that, when you can be comfortable with who you are in any situation, it is then that solo travel takes on a whole new meaning. It is then that solo travel truly becomes awesome! When you know you can handle anything that may go wrong and do it on your own terms, the fear and apprehension disappear.

You will hop on a plane and travel to distant lands without a care in the world, full of confidence. Just like Superman in his fortress of solitude or Batman in his Bat Cave, You will be comfortable in your own company, you will not need anyone else beside you to hold your hand. You will know that the fear doesn’t matter because you are confident enough, strong enough, independent enough to take on anything the world has to throw at you  and more.

You will be a damn superhero!

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

10 Life Lessons Learned From Travelling Solo.

Is Solo Travel Safe? Essential Gap Year Safety Tips For All Solo Backpackers.

Is Solo Travel Ever Truly Solo?

No Great Story Ever Starts With I stayed At Home.

Solo Female Backpacker Safety Tips.

Solo MALE Backpacker Safety Tips.

The Downsides To Solo Travel No One Will Tell You About.

Top Tips For The Solo Traveller.

Why Everyone Should Travel Solo At Least Once.

Why Solo Travel Is Awesome!

Yes Solo Travel Is Scary But You Should Go Anyway.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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Posted in Solo Travel
36 comments on “Solo Travel Makes You A Superhero!
  1. tanaxia says:

    This was just wonderful to read. I’m leaving for Europe in a week, and I’ll be going solo. It’ll be my first trip to Europe, my first trip out of Canada, and my first time travelling by myself. I’ve gone through so many different emotions, and while I’ve been lucky enough to have had the time to really figure myself out (I’m an introvert so I’ve certainly had the opportunity), I’m very much looking forward to seeing how I do in these travel situations.

    • Thank you Tanaxia. I’m positive once you get out there you’ll do great! More than that in fact, you’ll find out exactly what you are capable of achieving and so much more! Have a great trip and be sure to let us know how you get on!

  2. wanderlustmylove says:

    love your blog – really helpful!

  3. wayfaringcanuck says:

    I’m bookmarking this one to come back to every time I start to feel nervous about embarking abroad by myself, something that will undoubtedly start happening more frequently as the dates tick down.

    I’m going to go ahead and trust that you’re right about all of this “finding yourself” business, because that is first and foremost what I’m hoping to discover along the way. Or at least begin to discover. Fingers crossed that at this time next year I’ll have confirmed it for myself.

    • Thank you! I know the whole ‘finding yourself’ thing sounds cliched and hippyesque, but I personally think it is about learning about who you truly are as an individual, becoming truly comfortable with that and gaining the absolute confidence to know that is all you will ever need, and that is what solo travel gives you! ;D Thank you for commenting.

  4. alicesgapyearadventures says:

    Your website absolutely inspired me to take my very own solo trip for the first time and now I am on it I totally get what you mean! You have such an amazing, inspiring site, I love it! Keep up the good work!

  5. sammiegan says:

    Superhero great big love for this post!

    I still get nervous when I set out for a new adventure. I mix it up with tours, and solo trips. This year I have been visiting friends in Germany, and doing tours, my first real solo trip this year is to Iceland next week– and I’m nervous! I know it’ll be awesome, tho’

  6. Fie says:

    I’m not scared of solo travel, but I like to have somebody I know with me, to share the experience with on and after the trip. But maybe I should try it 🙂

    • Don’t get me wrong Fie, travelling with someone and sharing the experiences is fantastic too, but you should definitely try solo travel at least once, it’s a whole new world of experiences! ;D

  7. adrianstraveltales says:

    So ridiculously true. While I don’t feel like a super hero, unless I’m climbing mountains, I do feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and I have had to face a lot of my fears. From the little ones like where do I go to eat on my own (I’m a pro at solo dining now) to those that come along with being a single female traveler. I love it all, even when I’m scared, I know I’ll come out on top and it makes it all that much sweeter! 😀 Thanks for the great inspiration to hopefully get others out there to travel!

  8. Ashley Jo says:

    I am 22 years old, and 8 months ago I spent the last $875.00 in my bank account on a plane ticket. I leave for Ecuador and Peru for 6 months in 10 days. It’s not my first trip, but it is my first solo trip. I can’t describe the emotional Roller coaster I have been on the last few weeks. I go from unbelievably excited to worrisome to anxious to afraid all in the matter of a day! I have worked hard, saved lots of money, made sacrifices, and in the end I did it. I am headed on the trip I’ve dreamed about my entire life! I hope I can become a super hero like you say.

    • Outstanding Ashley! Congrats on your first solo trip! Don’t worry all those emotions are normal before a big adventure. I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time and have no doubt you’ll come back a total superhero! Let us know how you got on! 🙂

  9. pearrlynwang says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I am really afraid but your website inspire and motivate me to go solo. Its the first solo trip in my entire life and i am excited to do it after procrastinating for years!

  10. Tara says:

    Wow… This article totally sums up how I feel about what traveling solo does for a person. Last summer I had my first solo backpacking trip. It completely changed me, and forged a strength I always knew was there but didn’t know how to find. I’m heading off on a one way solo trip in less than two weeks, and I can’t wait to get into some sticky situations. You are spot on: they definitely make the best stories and make us stronger.
    By the way, I’m also a nurse and hoping to do some “voluntourism” this year 🙂

    • Thanks Tara, glad you enjoyed it! Hope you have an awesome trip and come back with some great stories! 🙂 Be careful of industry voluntourism opportunities though, as a qualified nurse you can do so much better.

  11. Livia A. Nascimento says:

    It’s funny I never really had fear about travelling solo, because I always knew I’d meet nice people along the way.. that’s just how Earth is! I did fear, though, coming back home and knowing that, as much as I had changed, everything seemed to be still on the same page. Also learned so much to get out and about meeting people that something awkard happened: I wasn’ sure how to deal with the same people day after day, because I got bored or uninterested very quick!
    Am I a freak or somebody’s gone through the same?!

    • No you aren’t a freak at all Livia, it is absolutely normal to feel that way when you come home, if you type in the search bar ‘It really is a lonely planet’ or ‘how to deal with reverse culture shock’ you will see I have dealt with that very topic there. Travel changes you, solo travel much more so, and sometimes it can be hard to relate to your old life when you return. You aren’t alone though. 🙂

  12. Tree says:

    Hi, I am a 51 year old female planning my first ever solo trip, It will be the first time I have done anything independently for about 30 years, some people think I’m mad or are humouring me as they don’t think I will go through with. Am I too old to go backpacking…?? I don’t think so, young at heart and all that…

    • No you aren’t too old at all! First of all solo travel is amazing, regardless of how old you are, and secondly there are tons of people your age and over travelling independently now. Go for it!

  13. Sarah says:

    Yes! Love this and totally agree! We should all be wearing capes!

  14. Julie Hayes says:

    You’ve done it again ! It seems that that whatever you post or whatever you have already posted is just what I need to hear at the moment. You simply cover everything, and this latest read is just the icing on the cake ! Your truly an amazing mind of information. I’ve just forwarded this info to my daughter who is having a hard time with her mum at 63 years old wanting to go off to Thailand for two months backpacking alone. She found it hard to understand when I said that this is something I want and need to do. In fact I feel it so strongly I even surprise myself ! Thanks again.

    • Thank you for the continued readership! 😉 If it helps we all go through that process with loved ones not understanding, whether it is parents or sons and daughters. They usually come around. 😉

  15. Sue says:

    I love how positive you are about the effects that travel have on you.

  16. Jemma says:

    i love this post so much. so inspiring. i need to get over myself and plan a a big solo trip. im going on holiday twice next year so hopefully that will give me the confidence as ive never travelled before.

  17. Steph says:

    I would love to plan a big trip and go solo! I think you’ve just inspired me!

  18. Mark Harrison says:

    We are all superheroes! Bring it on!

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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