In this episode, Catherine drops so many beautiful gems and words of wisdom that will truly help you get on the path to discover your truest self, overcome challenges, and be a badass – not only while traveling but in all areas of your life. And the best part is, you don’t need anyone else to do it.
Highlights from this episode:
[01:56] Solo travel is therapy.
Catherine’s philosophy is that solo travel allows you to be independent and discover more about yourself than you would if you were travelling with someone else – you are forced to deal with and process your own challenges without someone else distracting you.
If you’re travelling with someone else, they’re also there to help you solve problems. Running into unexpected problems while travelling solo allows you to look back at those badass moments where you overcame a problem on your own, and you become more confident – this translates into other areas of your life where you need to make big decisions.
“All travel is amazing, but there’s something really special about solo travel.”
[06:07] Catherine’s first solo trip.
In her last year of college, Catherine signed up to run a 10k, expecting her friends to also go. Turns out they weren’t going. But she was determined to go, and with her broke student budget, she rented a rustic cabin at the KOA Campground.
After that trip, she would take a weekend trip in April, which eventually turned into more regular trips – inviting people, but going whether or not they accepted the invitation.
[13:49] The big switch.
After several solo trips, whether it was to the movies or to events, Catherine’s moment of realisation happened when she had to travel to Sydney from New Zealand on a work trip and was given the wrong date for the event. She ended up travelling to Sydney with no place to stay, no transport, and nothing to do. Her experience with solving travel problems on the fly helped her realise she could do it.
[17:44] Travel loneliness.
When I took my first solo trip, I was afraid of the loneliness. It’s a very common thought for people who contemplate solo travel.
Catherine encourages people to not be afraid to process their emotions – be enough for your own company. Don’t let your life be on hold because you’re waiting for someone else to value you. Solo travel allows you to realise that you’re worthy with or without someone else.
“Being alone is different from being lonely. I’ve always loved being alone.” – Jane Goodall
[30:05] The fear of disliking yourself.
Another common fear for solo travellers is not liking themselves when they’re alone with just their own thoughts.
Catherine says it wont happen, because when you’re alone, you don’t have to wear anyone else’s expectations. If you’re alone, you get to know your truest self – without all the daily labels that we have to constantly uphold. Each time you take one of these trips, you become less like the labels and you start living more of your life as your true self.
[34:57] Who is Her Bags Were Packed for?
Everything on Her Bags Were Packed is focused on women, but Catherine wants it to be an inclusive environment that is welcoming to anyone who feels comfortable in that space.
The Your New Favourite Travel Buddy Program is also there to help women with their travels.
[37:15] Easing into solo travel.
Even before you go travelling by yourself, you can start with baby steps – everybody has their own starting point depending on their comfort zone.
You could start by going to the movies on your own, going to a bar for a drink on your own, or going to a coffee shop for an hour with a book. The goal is to do something that slightly stretches just beyond your comfort zone, take some time to yourself, and repeat that a few times until it’s no longer intimidating.
Once you get comfortable with those smaller trips, plan slightly larger trips – go to explore another neighbourhood, or visit a friend in another city (they shouldn’t take work off while you’re there).
[41:29] Catherine’s coaching program.
The coaching program serves to figure out people’s comfort zones, and then take small steps to get them out of their comfort zones little by little. They also have help planning the trip, as well as support while they’re on the trip – they’ll have a virtual travel buddy.
[43:46] Introverts and extroverts on solo travel.
It makes sense to think that extroverts would have an easier time travelling on their own than introverts.
Catherine asked introverts and extroverts to give solo travel advice. Interestingly, extroverts felt that they preferred not travelling alone, and introverts felt it was easier to be on their own because they could choose when to be social on the trip. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, don’t think that it disqualifies you.
[48:07] Virtual retreat.
Catherine is announcing a virtual retreat – the activities will be virtual, but she is encouraging participants to take a trip somewhere. The goal is to process and leave behind the things that are no longer serving a purpose after the year we’ve just had.
[50:06] Final words of encouragement.
Catherine wants to encourage everyone to think about all the exciting things that they have done already, all the risks they’ve taken, and stretched their courage muscles – let that propel you forward into the next thing that is a little bit scary.
“You’re never going to be fearless. You just have to find the courage to take little baby steps to face those fears.”
If you want to know more about Catherine Smith, check out her links below.
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