The idea of hitting the road by yourself and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life sounds relaxing. But, it’s not just a fantasy that sounds nice. There are actual psychological benefits to heading somewhere by yourself with little to no digital access.
There’s no question that we live in a busy world and many of us are constantly consumed by technology. You might be attached to a phone or computer for work, or to stay connected with friends and family. Maybe you even use tech for entertainment.
But, getting away from that digital dependence with a solo road trip can offer a huge boost to your mental well-being. You might re-discover who you truly are and what you want, and it can kickstart healthy habits that limit your tech time when you return.
With that in mind, let’s cover some of the benefits of a solo road trip, and how you can make the most of a digital detox.
Traveling Can Change Your Perspective
There’s a reason why some people seem to adopt a “travel bug.” It feels good to get out of your daily routine and see the world – even if that means driving somewhere within the country to experience something new. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, some of the greatest reasons why travel is good for your mental health include:
- It boosts creativity;
- It reduces stress;
- It increases energy levels;
- Doing something you enjoy can boost your happiness;
- It allows you to try new things and meet new people.
When you travel alone, you can experience even greater benefits, like boosted confidence and personal growth. You have to be able to problem-solve, use your resources, and have the courage to try new things when you’re a solo traveler. Each time you use one of those skills or overcome a fear, you’ll be more self-confident.
Finding Yourself on the Road
There’s no right or wrong destination when it comes to a solo road trip. However, you’re likely to get more out of the experience if you head somewhere that allows you to focus on healing, growth, and stress reduction. Some of the best ways to get the most out of your trip and make sure you don’t add extra stress along the way include planning ahead, knowing your driving limits, and setting a pace that allows you to explore.
Additionally, make sure you set a budget and understand your financial situation before you leave. There are plenty of ways to save money on the road, including looking for better gas prices and preparing your own meals. The last thing you want is for your financial situation to become a stressor halfway through your trip.
Consider making at least a few stops along the way that allow you to connect with nature, especially if you’re letting go of technology on your trip. Nature is a great physician, and multiple studies have shown its benefits regarding mental health. Some of those benefits include:
- Less stress;
- More energy;
- Improved mood;
- Boosted concentration;
- Feelings of joy;
- Greater creativity.
Nature can also reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, stop the car and consider camping for a night or two. Go on a hike. Take in the scenery. When you’re alone with nature and your thoughts, it can give you a new perspective on life and what’s really important.
Embracing the Digital Detox
Hitting the road on your own is only half the battle. If you’re glued to your phone the entire time, you’re not going to fully appreciate the benefits of solo traveling. Take the opportunity to limit, or completely detox from technology while you’re away. It’s okay to check in with friends and family to let them know you’re safe or to use a map on your digital device. But, other than that, let go of the temptation to mindlessly scroll through social media or document every second of your experience for the world to see.
First of all, digital devices can cause you to be distracted on the road. The more you’re looking at your phone, the greater your risk of getting into an accident. Texting while driving increases your likelihood of crashing by up to 1.8 times. Keeping your digital devices out of sight and out of mind will keep you safe.
Additionally, a digital detox can make it easier to clear your head. It will help you disconnect from the distractions and stress waiting for you at home. You might start to notice that you feel calmer and more content. You’re also more likely to be mindful so you can enjoy the present moment and appreciate your surroundings at any given time. You might think you need your phone to be happy and stay connected, but research has shown that many people who go through a digital detox end up feeling happier, get better sleep, and have improved relationships.
A solo road trip can seem a little intimidating, at first. But, that’s part of the adventure. You can make the decision to do something that scares you a little and prove to yourself that you’re strong and brave enough to do it. When you take that first step and head out on your trip, it won’t take you long to start reeling in the benefits.