Solo travel as a spiritual journey is one that frees you to:
- Shed the responsibilities of daily life, if only temporarily.
- Live your personal rhythm. How much or how little you do in a day is up to you.
- Dig into the very private questions that challenge your life that you don't have time to address when at home.
- Explore paths that, for various reasons, you can't otherwise go down.
- Discover or rediscover life purpose.
Every day we move forward in time and space. We grow in small ways and, sometimes, in significant ways. But at home, surrounded by responsibilities and people who need us, it's difficult to be free to live and achieve the five pleasures of a spiritual journey noted above.
Solo travel presents a unique opportunity for spiritual growth.
Five Ways Solo Travel Helps us Grow Spiritually
The independent aspect of solo travel presents many opportunities for spiritual growth. Here are five tips on tapping solo travel's full potential.
- Know your intent. To experience your travels on a deeper level, know their purpose for you before you go. Are there aspects of your personality you'd like to grow? Habits you'd like to lose? Questions you'd like answered? Perhaps you find yourself sleepwalking through life. On your trip you could plan to be very present. Take notes. Draw what you see. Update a gratitude journal at the end of the day. Know your intent and plan to live it.
- Take time to be truly alone. Every solo trip inevitably involves a lot of people but sometimes you can be truly alone. These are occasions to be still. They are precious moments for reflection and for experiencing pleasure without the need to share. They are opportunities for addressing those very private questions that may be challenging you. Embrace them.
- Patiently watch with pure enjoyment. When I wrote these words I found my interior self drinking coffee on a patio in Innsbruck, Austria. It is just one of many places where I've sat back and taken great delight simply watching people go about their daily life. Patiently watching presents opportunities to really see the local culture and feel its rhythm. Doing so can reveal new ways of living that enter your spirit as well.
- Try new things. When traveling with others, you have to consider what they want to do. When you travel solo you can stretch your boundaries and try new things. Explore paths that, for various reasons, you can't otherwise go down. Even if you can't continue with them when you're home, doing so will have shifted your spiritual interior.
- Consider your life's purpose. Most of us have jobs. Some have careers. Few have vocations. A vocation is tied inextricably to your life's purpose. As you travel solo, with intent, spending time truly alone to consider your life's bigger questions, watching how people in other cultures live and trying new things, you just may discover new meaning in your own life.
You may have noticed that none of the recommendations include sightseeing or eating at a top restaurant. They are about spending time with yourself, getting to know yourself, and learning deeply about the culture you're visiting.
Solo Travel Is Good for Spiritual Growth
“Travel is very good for the soul’s growth,” says Ainslie MacLeod, author of The Instruction. “As you travel and meet new people, you discover them and yourself.” Ainslie experienced this first hand. Before having a family, he did a lot of solo travel. He would just go to the airport with a toothbrush in his pocket and see what flight he could get cheap. Going alone, he could go inside himself, relax, and switch off. He was following his soul’s desire.
That travel is good for spiritual growth was echoed by Oriah, a poet, author, and facilitator of workshops on creativity and spirituality.
“When traveling solo,” she says, “we’re removed from all that is familiar. We discover who we are when no one is looking. Thrust into unfamiliar situations, we sometimes learn that we are not who we think we are – we discover aspects of our personality that we weren’t aware of. And when we have to rely on strangers for help we learn to trust our intuition. All these experiences, this learning, promotes spiritual growth.”
To conclude this musing on solo travel and spiritual growth, here are the opening and closing stanzas of Oriah's poem, The Invitation
It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.