The Year of More: How one book inspired my solo travel.

5 years ago a good friend of mine gave me a book to read. She didn’t explain why I should read it nor did she tell me anything about the book – all she said was “you’ve got to read this”. So I did. I remember being immediately gripped by how relatable the main character was and how her story resonated with certain parts of my life at that time. Elizabeth Gilbert is a wonderful writer, she eloquently describes her journey of self-discovery in the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and you find yourself on this journey with her, gripped emotionally to each scene as though you too are living that moment. Feelings of frustration, uncertainty, joy and wonder are depicted as she journeys her way through learning more about the world and self-love. And then she describes Bali. I instantly fall in love with the sound of this place and remember thinking to myself “I have to go there one day".

The idea of Bali was nothing more than an idea, something I parked for years but would occasionally entertain as I casually perused through Google images. As the years went on, the call to explore was getting louder. A gut feeling that NOW is the time to materialise these fantasies that have been so carefully caged by a combination of fear, “what if’s” and life circumstances. Each year, I set a theme (as opposed to resolutions) and incorporate that theme into every aspect of what I do. 2016 for me is “The year of more” – meaning that I want to experience more of the richness of life, travel more, see family and friends more, learn a new language, basically – do MORE. So what better time to go to Bali ey? I mean, it does fit in with the theme, right?

And then came the flood of self-questioning: “what if it doesn’t go according to plan?”, “but you’ve never travelled alone, why risk it?”, “you don’t know if it’s as amazing as it sounds in real life”. The best way to silence such self-effacement is to commit to the idea and take action. As simple as it sounds, that means book the damn thing, attend the event, go on that date, quit that job that’s making you so miserable etc. I certainly didn’t want to look back at this time and regret silencing my gut telling me to GO FOR IT. And I’m so glad I did.

Travelling alone for the first time was both exciting and scary. The scary part quickly disappeared once I arrived and was in awe of the beauty of the island and kindness from the people who call it home. The people I met during the tour definitely made solo travelling feel less daunting, as each day we ventured out to explore the culture and splendour of the island, ticking off activities that were once just on the “list of things to do before I leave the earth”.

I’ve learnt that we really do only grow once we leave the nest of comfort and routine. Each time we grow, we get closer to becoming the person we’ve always aspired to be. Of course, it’s not as easy as visiting a new part of the world; your “new” might be simply to drop or pick up a new habit that can equally transform your outlook on life. We learn and grow in different ways, but I can assure you that the end result – experience – is always worth the ride.

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