People often tell me I’m brave for traveling by myself. To me it’s not bravery, but absolutely essential for developing my work, my creativity and my self. Every trip teaches me something new and I always come home feeling inspired, full of energy and excited to transform what I’ve experienced into something tangible.
Of course it was scary at first, and there are still moments on every trip where I wonder what on earth I’m doing. But they are only fleeting, and that fear is actually a part of the whole experience. Whenever we push past fear, we grow, making the rewards of solo travel so much richer than we ever anticipated. It is this that has allowed me to trust myself and my instincts both creatively, and throughout all aspects of my life.
Here are ten reasons why I think solo travel can jettison your creativity.
10. Freedom to experiment
Putting yourself out of your comfort zone means you start changing things up – what you wear, what you read, new food you try, even how you interact with people. I find that so many people I cross paths with impact my way of thinking and introduce me to new opportunities I’d never considered previously. Being by yourself means there’s nobody to question your choices, or judge you based on who you’ve been in the past, being solo is a excellent way to free you up and embrace experimentation.
9. Let go of your inhibitions
When you’re solo travelling you have two options: sit in your room on your own or go out and embrace everything! It can be scary at first, but soon approaching strangers and throwing yourself head first into amazing experiences becomes second nature. This shedding of inhibitions can also impact your work, as you feel freer and less afraid about doing something different.
Before leaving, research the areas you’re heading to and connect with organisations or individuals that are involved creatively in what you’re interested in. People are almost always incredibly open to meeting you and sharing their knowledge and story, and through this you’ll meet many, many more people that are doing fascinating things, and before you know it a new exciting collaboration could be on the cards. Traveling alone means that you don’t have to worry if your friend feels left out whilst you’re missioning about making new friends and contacts.
7. Go with the flow
There’s no daily grind schedule when you travel. Nowhere to be, no one to wait for and nobody else’s expectations to meet. Only your own. You can spend an hour, or five, or longer gazing at the intricate artwork on that beautiful temple, spend all afternoon sourcing and deliberating over fabrics or just sit with a sketchbook and admire the world going by.
6. Focus on yourself
In your normal life, how many hours a day do you have to yourself? Maybe one or two in the evening, more if you’re lucky, or perhaps none at all. Solo travel means you have a lot of time alone, therefore you can relax into being in the moment with just yourself. I’ve had life epiphanies whilst staring out at rice paddies on rickety bus journeys, which I wouldn’t have had if a friend had been sat next to me.
5. Rise to the challenge
Of course it’s not always easy. Things go wrong, sometimes you get sick, and weird stuff might happen – but you deal with whatever comes your way. By yourself. Because you have to. It’s in these moments you realise how resourceful and strong you really are. It’s an amazing skill which stays with you and helps you believe in yourself when creative projects hit a brick wall.
4. Let go of failing projects quicker
On the flip side when we travel, time is of the essence, if we are not enjoying something or can’t find a solution, we stop wasting our time quicker and move onto new things that make us feel motivated again. When we’re in the thick of work, negativity can swamp us. If things don’t go according to plan, it seems like the worst thing in the world. Travel gives us new perspective as we see ourselves in a much wider context, and it becomes easier to let go of what no longer serves us – recognising what we’ve learned from our mistakes and feeling inspired again for future projects.
3. Feel more inspired
Inspiration is everywhere, and when you’re by yourself you notice and absorb everything so much more. New colours, patterns, sounds and tastes flood our senses. We begin to think and feel things from our new environment that spark our imagination. Being alone at this time to let everything you’re experiencing sink into yourself and synthesize can be truly magical, and you can continue to draw on that inspiration once you’re home.
2. Make the most of what you have
If nothing else, traveling is humbling. You stop making excuses about what new fancy equipment or materials you need to procrastinate over before getting on with your craft. When you travel alone you compact your life to a rucksack, and realise that in that bag you still have more wealth than a lot of the people you’ll meet. Yet most of them make the most creative outcomes from how little they have. You learn that the real richness of life comes from our experiences and interactions, and it’s these riches that are the real soul food for our creativity and passions, not our worldly goods.
1. Return home with more motivation and enthusiasm
However big the adventure, it can still continue once you’re home if you feed off of everything you’ve experienced and learnt. I find that I’m always raring to go with my next project and wanting to share my stories with everyone I’ve missed. Channel the energy from your adventure into your creativity; there’ll be more that’s waiting to flow out of you than you even knew existed.
Feeling inspired to take that first step towards solo travel? Join me on Haute Culture’s Hill Tribe Textile Tour of Vietnam, made for creative solo women who are passionate about textiles, fashion and culture around the world!
Are you a designer, maker, artist that enjoys traveling solo? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.
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