Hiking the Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal was my first time travelling solo for a longer time. I hiked the trail for 4 days and afterwards I went to Porto. It was amazing and solo travelling is definitely for me. What I took home with me, is not something I discoverd by being alone, but through meeting other people.
If you have travelled solo before, you now that it does not mean that you are alone all the time. You meet a lot of people, because when you are alone, it’s easier to make new contacts than when you travel together. On the third day of my hike, I met a German woman on the trail. She was also travelling solo and we decided to walk together for a bit. We talked about the hike, Portugal and travelling and after a while we split up again because we wanted to continue by ourselves.
At the end of the day, we ran into each other again and we realised we were staying in the same hostel. We walked the last part of the trail together until we arrived in this small town. We got the same dorm room (because we arrived at the same time) and I didn’t mind so we did not change it. We installed ourselves and talked about our plans. Hers differed from mine and she asked if I wanted to join her. And there it was: doubt. What did I wanted to do? At once, I didn’t know. I had my own plans in mind but now I wasn’t sure anymore. In the end I decided to join her and it was nice. However, the next day on the trail, I realised how I let myself be influenced by others.
One of the benefits of travelling solo is that you don’t have to think about others. You do what you want to do in the moment itself. That’s something I love about it, because I get into a state where I really listen to myself. I have the time to focus on my mind, my body, my feelings, my needs. It relaxes me tremendously because I have the time to tune in to myself. It’s something I should do always, but it’s not easy when there’s a lot around to be distracted by, like work, to-do lists, stress, fpractical things like cooking, grocery shopping, etc.
When I’m by myself, I do not doubt. All right, sometimes I do not know what to do, but then I just think about it until it clears up and I know what I want. Sometimes I choose wrong, but the equal amount of times, I’m right. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the choice was good or bad, because I made it and I knew the reasons for it. With the German woman asking me to join her, I realized that because she offered me another option, an extra choice, I started doubting mine.
When there’s other people around, I lose focus of what I want. Suddenly it’s not clear anymore. And what if their option is better than mine? What if I regret joining? What if I regret not tagging along? All these questions flood my brain. To be clear, the German woman did nothing wrong. Solo travellers know that the answer could as easily be a yes as a no, just for the sake of travelling alone – it’s a very easy understanding.
But it amazed me how easily I started doubting my own choices. I lacked the confidence to trust my own decision. This moment was tiny, but it reflected a lot on my interactions with others. I am a very strong person when it comes to morals and what I stand for and no one can get me away from that (unless we have a very profound discussion and I gain other insights). But for smaller choices, I’m suddenly not sure about myself anymore and I’m often persuaded to do what the other suggests (even with no pressure).
This often brings me in situations where I do not want to be. Everyone knows those moments where we change our plans only to regret doing it later. Or the other way around. Well, it happens to me often. Because when someone offers me an extra choice, I suddenly lose sight of what I want. I learned to see how others can influence me – without them even knowing. This is something personal, that only I can change. I’m not there yet, but now I’m aware of it. And you? How do others influence you? And are you aware of it?