Anywhere Galvanized

how traveling alone makes you a badass

Walking towards the Taj Mahal

There was a time when I had no desire to become badass. I was acquiescent and without a face tattoo.  I also didn’t have the brawn to bench press over 40lbs —  what was the point in trying?

Then, I met my first genuine badass. She was trailblazing, bold, and relentlessly interesting. She redefined my expectations of what a badass looked like, and I started to notice them everywhere! The term evolved to include deep-sea divers and racecar drivers, rather than bullies. It belonged to human rights activists, teachers in challenging schools, and archeologists in far flung places. Some badasses had tattoos and muscles too, but largely, they were just those who had spent their lives achieving fascinating things.  That was something I wanted.

Are badasses born or made? I’d say the title doesn’t come without a fair degree of both. So how does a reasonably interesting person take the next step to becoming a badass? There are plenty of roads to take, but I’d recommend the expressway. The swiftest way I have found is to gear up, go thousands of miles away from the familiar, and get to traveling solo. Here’s why:

1. It teaches you self-reliance:

Driving a tuk tuk in India

When traveling on your own, there’s no one else to defer to. Rather than passing responsibility on to a travel buddy, you are left to drive your own motorbike and  fumble through French to get food on the table. The tasks once shared are all on you, kid! Sure, it can be a lot at times, but I promise you’ll come out of it feeling more capable than before.

2. It makes you insistent:

Street art wall

That’s right! Traveling solo will stifle your willingness to yield, for better and for worse. You’ll negotiate rickshaw fares, bargain in the souk, and navigate your way out of questionable situations. You’ll learn to take no for an answer only after you’ve heard it three times. After you travel alone, you’ll likely lead a much more assertive existence. You’ll come out knowing when to pick your battles, and you’ll be prepared to win the ones you do fight.

3. It forces you to extend yourself: 

Kelsie and the Goat in Jaipur

By traveling alone, you leave just about everything that consoles you behind in favor of a transformation. You’ll start each day from zero. Some days you’ll be deeply fulfilled, while others you’ll feel hopelessly lonely. Grasping at customs, cultural intricacies, and language barriers, you’re guaranteed to make some tremendous mistakes. You’ll point your toes at a Buddha statue or misuse the word “coger” in Mexico, and you’ll cringe just thinking about it. Then, you’ll move on, and come home better for it.

4. It makes you less afraid:

Kayaking on Halong Bay

Before embarking on a solo adventure, you’ll probably hear cautionary tales of tropical illnesses and near-kidnappings that happened to somebody that somebody knows. Go, and you’ll learn that you can experience places that are culturally different and come out unharmed. And, you know what? You may also get amoebic dysentery. Do your research and choose places that are easy for solo travel. Then work your way up. The truth is that bad things can (and do) happen everywhere, and you simply can’t let fear stop you from going. The more you experience, the more fearless you’ll become.

5. It gives you time for introspection: 

Woman's shoe in Essaouira

Traveling by yourself helps you find comfort in being alone. There are plenty of people who are more confident doing just about anything in the company of others, and understandably so! Being alone makes us feel weird. But if you’ve ever been by yourself long enough to explore your thoughts, you’ll realize there’s an awful lot to hear. Without a crowd of supporters, you can become what you want, confront your weaknesses, and instigate change at an accelerated rate.

6. It enables you to understand what you want for yourself: 

Mural in Jaipur

Traveling alone helps you to understand more about what you want, free of external influence. It starts off with simple choices. Maybe you’ll learn you love eating dinner at 4p.m. or that art museums bore you. You may also discover that you’re passionate about water sanitation, powerfully empathetic, or intrigued by Hinduism. You’ll suddenly have time to practice unexplored hobbies and brand new interests, and really work at them. This is one of the best opportunities you’ll ever get to find the path you like, and follow it.

7. It allows you to understand you’re not at the center of the universe:

Amphitheater in Amman

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but traveling on your own can really help put this truism into perspective. Traveling gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the best and worst of everything. While there are some places you’ll simply pass through, there will be others that captivate you. Perhaps you’ll find a wildlife conservation effort that you want to support or develop a love of teaching. You’ll experience luxury high rises and remote farming communities that give context to just how diverse the life experience can be. Don’t let yourself forget this, as it can be one of your most powerful motivators.

8. It empowers you to surround yourself with others who are equally badass: 

Daniel and Taylor on a boat ride in Ninh Binh

Traveling independently is still one of the most confidence-building things you can do. Got stuff you want to do? Go do it, whether or not you have anyone who wants to do it with you! And when you’ve already accomplished lots of interesting things, you’ll open yourself up to more badasses like yourself. Never again should you default to being with someone that doesn’t make you better because it’s easier than being alone.

I’d say that’s a pretty good thing.

Tell us! What’s the most valuable thing you learned traveling solo?

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Metisse
    February 11, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Yesssss!! I traveled alone for The first time in November. I am 1000000% better for it <3 and I can’t wait to do it again!

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      February 14, 2016 at 4:34 am

      That’s awesome to hear! Where was your trip, Metisse? It only gets better!

  • Reply
    Henar
    February 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I absolutely agree with every single point! In a couple months will make 11 years I decided I was going to travel/explore the world even if it was on my own, which I have been doing ever since. I am sure if I hadn’t taken the plunge back then I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I am grateful for that! More people should give it a go!

  • Reply
    Jossus Travelpics
    February 20, 2018 at 12:45 am

    I love travelling solo, it makes me more confident and I can do what I want whenever I want.

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      February 26, 2018 at 8:33 am

      Definitely, Jossus! It’s a great way to figure out what you want and become more decisive 🙂

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