Traveling solo; to some this may be completely normal, to others it’s completely unconventional. For me, it was mixed. I wanted to do it because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and I liked the idea of not having to accommodate myself to anyone else’s wants or needs. I looked forward to being able to plan my days out however I wanted, choosing to spend the entire day at a museum if I was so inclined.
Going anywhere alone can be frightening to many, but there are tons of great reasons to do it at least once in your life. I’m not saying you have to go on long extended trips on your own; a weekend alone may be enough. Since embarking on my first solo trip, I’m so incredibly glad that I took the plunge and realized that the biggest step was purchasing the flight. Because there was no going back after buying a non-refundable ticket! Here are eight more reasons why I’m such a big fan of traveling solo:
1. I learned to trust my instincts more. I’m no guru at listening to my gut, but I’m definitely more in tune with it now. There were times I had to listen to my instincts to figure out if I was walking into a really cool adventure or some sketchy alley to find “the best pub” of the city. (I’m happy to say that I made it back safely without being mugged or scarred for life.) Also, I had to quickly figure out who to ask to take pictures for me and wouldn’t bolt with my camera.
2. It pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. Going to new places where I didn’t know the language or customs was at times daunting, yet exhilarating. I’ll admit that there were times that all I wanted was to pay for a tour guide to baby me and lead me to all the tourist attractions, but I’m glad I didn’t. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone cliff diving or shared a taxi with strangers who ended up being on my flight home a month later (we had a wonderful time catching up on the 11 hours ride back to the States).
3. My new mantra for travel is now: minimalism is key. I wasn’t that girl that had a giant, overstuffed and overweight suitcase. But I was the girl that had the second biggest case that was overstuffed and too heavy for me to carry up and down stairs quickly. It was draining mentally and physically lugging my giant duffel from city to city. On my next trip, I’m going to pack light and stick to carry-ons only!
4. Quitting my job to travel is not something people tend to recommend, but I have no regrets doing it. I felt stalled in my life and needed a change, and I don’t anticipate looking back and saying I regretted the time I took to travel.
5. One of the most popular questions I was asked after coming back from this solo trip was “Weren’t you ever lonely?”. My answer is always no. I found that it was easier to meet and make new friends while traveling solo. It forced me to be more outgoing than normal and I’ve met some truly incredible people as a result.
6. When you’re traveling alone, you don’t have others to rely on. I had to learn to adapt quickly and efficiently to each city I went to and as new situations arose. Misread the sign in the train station and walked into the men’s restroom by mistake? No problem, glad I’ve become impervious to small embarrassments like that. Now I know Damen is for ladies and Herren is for men. Whoops, missed my train? That’s ok, there’s another one leaving in 30 minutes!
7. I’m a budgeter by nature, but I didn’t have to stick to a budget until I went on this trip. I knew I wasn’t earning any income during are after coming home so I had to be strict with myself and adjust to unexpected miscellaneous expenses that popped up.
8. I thought this two-month journey would be it for me. That I would be happy to travel for shorter periods of time after, but it really only made me want to keep going, to keep traveling. Now, I need to figure out how to make that my reality.