Travel is on everyone’s bucket lists. Whether it’s to see the Eiffel Tower up close, dine in a Japanese ryokan, or go on an African safari, seeing new places is an experience we all look forward to. But planning can take ages and trips can take a different turn when traveling with other people. And sometimes, we wait too long for things to fall into place that we end up putting it off forever.
For popular travel writer / blogger Kiersten Rich, the realization that her cushy corporate finance job was making her unhappy became the trigger to pack her bags. With very little money and no firm game plan, she just went and booked a flight to Australia. That began a four month country hopping tour that took her from Australia, to Southeast Asia, to New Zealand. She never looked back after that. Today, the travel savvy California native maintains a travel blog called The Blonde Abroad, where she seeks to inspire others to live a life they love and “to settle for nothing less than the extraordinary.” Kiersten especially believes in the benefits of solo travel, and here’s why:
For Kiersten, “solo travel is one of the best ways for women to explore the world and become empowered travelers.” She finds being able to do what she really wants to do without having to consider the wants of her traveling companions is wonderfully liberating. While it also means that she has no one to blame when she makes mistakes, it also teaches a lesson on being resourceful.
Solo travel is an excellent way to meet new people
Sure, you can meet new people even when traveling as a group, but doing it solo forces you out of your comfort zone and allows you to really connect with the people you meet. When you don’t have people to fall back on, that’s when you really put yourself out there and make genuine connections. And we don’t just mean fellow travelers. More importantly, you can really get to know the locals and their culture.
According to Kiersten, people are usually more inclined to lend a helping hand and play a part in your adventure. She has met people who, regardless of language barriers and cultural differences, have really welcomed her in their cities. “This is the kind of experience that can really enrich your travels and restore your faith in people.”
Volunteering doesn’t only allow you to help, it also introduces you to the real people and real culture of a country. Kiersten didn’t only don’t just experience the touristy attractions, she got to live like a local, baking bread by hand, picking peaches from the farm, and playing with the kids.
For Kiersten, one of the biggest challenges in solo travel is actually making the decision to book your flight and pack your bag. And while people may find the idea daunting or downright scary, the fact is, it is a life changing experience. “The truth is, traveling solo changed my life and is the single greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.”
For more information about Kiersten Rich and her travels, visit her blog The Blonde Abroad at www.theblondeabroad.com.