Why Everyone Should Solo Travel

Guest Post by: Business Administration Junior Pearl Lam. She is a Foster School Undergraduate who participated on Foster Exchange at the Manchester Business School, United Kingdom for Fall Semester 2018. 

My favorite thing about studying abroad BY FAR has been learning ALL about cognitive inertia within behavioral strategy and its managerial implications – although a close second would be my solo trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Back in November, I took five days to go do what I had been wanting to do ever since I got to Manchester: solo travel. The most difficult part of the trip was making it happen. As a Taurus, I’m astrologically inclined towards planning but accommodating for the spotty bus schedules was tough, though it was a breeze after that.

A seven-hour train ride took me to Inverness, the capital of Skye. The door to the hostel was blocked by several people and upon finding out my name was Pearl (like the whale in Spongebob – don’t worry, she’s pretty), they invited me to explore local pubs that overplayed ‘Come On Eileen’ but compensated with live bands jamming out on traditional Scottish tunes. It was such an uplifting experience to meet so many strangers, from a construction worker in town for a bridge inspection to an Australian guy doing the 80-mile Skye Trail to a girl from Vancouver, Canada (neighbors!) who had just been in Zimbabwe. Though I’ll probably never see them again, it was the epitome of temporary but authentic connections.

From Inverness, I took the most gorgeous train ride to Kyle of Lochalsh and bussed to Portree, the main town located at the base of Northern Skye. The next three days I hiked through rolling green hills and loose rocks, chatted with locals and other travelers, journaled and had the best fish and chips ever. Places I visited included the iconic Old Man of Storr, known for its peculiar rock formations, the Scorrybreac Circuit and the expansive Quiraing (which I had all to myself because I entered from some weird side entrance where the bus driver dropped me off with a “It should be somewhere there.”) With its panoramic views, towering rock walls and off-trail scrambling, the Quiraing was absolutely breathtaking.

I returned to Glasgow where I was greeted by this girl I met on Instagram and her friends. After a day filled with brunch that gives Cap Hill a run for its money, Christmas markets and llama trekking, I finally headed back to Manchester. It was inspiring to know that I could just go anywhere, make memories and have fun even if it was just fleeting.

Solo travel can be amazing. With all the time I had to self-reflect, my head felt tremendously clear. Though it was boring at times, it was never lonely. Studying abroad is already a dissociating experience, being thousands of miles away from home and all that, but solo travelling reorients you. I’d highly encourage solo travel to everyone because it is such a liberating adventure that you just have to experience for yourself!