Deciding to quit my London job and solo travel three years ago, was one of the best decisions of my life. I have seen incredible things, met amazing people and completely changed my priorities as a young woman.
At university, I was desperate to escape to London in a corporate 9-5, attending client brunches and drinking cocktails at the weekend. Now, I’ve realized that is the opposite of how I want to live my life. And whilst both are absolutely fine, I’ve chosen to follow the path in the other direction and – most of the time – couldn’t be happier.
Traveling solo is full of ups and downs. The high of finding more of a purpose in life can be met with crushing loneliness, the excitement of finding yourself in one of the most beautiful countries in the world can be compromised by a situation you need to get yourself out of. You are your own best friend, you’re your navigator, your planner, you are everything to yourself.
But you are not allowed to complain.
Since quitting my London PR job in 2017, I have lived in Australia, France, and the US, and worked constantly. When I told people in the UK, “I’m going on holiday for a week” whilst living in Australia, the responses I received were a continuation of “What? You live in Australia! You ARE on holiday!”. Despite the fact, I’d been working every day for the previous 10 months.
It’s led to all-consuming guilt any time I feel slightly underwhelmed with how I’m living my life. Whenever I feel lonely, or when I look at my suitcase and wonder what life would be like without packing and unpacking it every five months, I give myself a mental shake and brush it off.
”Stop it Alice, you’re living your best life! You have no right to feel like this.
If you are a long-term solo traveler, the chances are you are working on the road. Managing your finances in a foreign country, across timezones, working in unfamiliar places and trying to learn the lay of the land whilst earning money. It’s no less of a stress than anyone self-employed back home would have. But, because you’re currently living in Vietnam, you can’t tell anyone back home that you’re finding life a little hard at the moment.
So I’m here to tell you, it’s perfectly fine to have bad days. Even if you are #LivingYourBestLife.
Your position of privilege as a solo traveler doesn’t remove the stresses of everyday life any more than the privilege of someone in a high-flying corporate job. Your issues may be different, but they are still there and it’s okay to have a bad day without feeling ungrateful for the hand you’ve been dealt.
Because most of us weren’t just given the opportunity to travel solo. Many of us worked hard for it, many overcame fears of isolation and self-confidence in order to live this lifestyle.
As a solo traveler, you are your everything, so it’s more important than ever to be kind to yourself. Be proud of the life you have built, take a deep breath and remember why you’re here – and that your feelings are completely valid.