Traveling alone isn’t for everyone, but here are five reasons why I think everyone should travel to a foreign destination on their own, at least once in their lives.
1. It’s scary, and that’s an opportunity to be empowered.
Traveling solo can yes, be scary: What if I get lost? Will I be bored? Who will I talk to? Isn’t that just weird?
But remember – anything that’s scary is really an opportunity to be empowered.
Remember that slide you stared at longingly at 6 years old, wanting so badly to be able to gather the strength to climb up those stairs and slide down that thing just like your friends did? Except you were so scared you couldn’t muster up the strength to do it, until one day you decided to take control of your fear, slide down that slide, and your chest poked out with pride because you had overcome your fear?
Well taking your first solo trip can be just as scary at first. The thought of being alone in a foreign place can seem overwhelming, but once you do the necessary planning, make the jump and get out there, being alone will be the last thing you’re worried about. You’ll come back feeling proud that you did something that once scared you, and that’s one of the most empowering feelings in the world.
2. Become truly independent.
You’re born a dependent, and that comforting feeling doesn’t just disappear because if it’s not your parents, it’s usually someone or something else that you allow yourself to become dependent on. Your partner, husband, children, pastor, co-worker who comes up with all those awesome ideas by the Keurig machine.
I realized how dependent I had become on my partner, partly because I blamed him for my own unhappiness and dissatisfaction (which obviously was not fair to him). When I felt lonely or bored – I’d look to him for fun things to do, to plan trips for both of us – except he never planned, and he never kept his promises. I finally reached the point where I realized that I had to do what I needed to do for myself. So you’ve been longing to go on a trip for a while – always wanted to go on an African safari or volunteer in Costa Rica?
Well stop waiting around for someone else to make it happen, and make it happen for yourself. When you take control and travel solo, you’re forced to rely on yourself.
If you’re lost, you’ll become the one asking for directions. If you’re bored, you’ll have to do the research to find something absolutely awesome to do. Traveling solo is one of the best ways to build your independence, and that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.
3. Meet more people.
You’re a lot less likely to talk to a completely random person in a restaurant when you’ve already got company. If I had been eating with a good friend at the local Dubrovnik seafood spot I walked into, I wouldn’t have started a conversation with a UK woman who was eating alone two tables down from me.
She was at least 20 years older than me, having a glass of white wine and our conversations ended up being the highlight of my night.
We explored the Old Town, stopped by a bar built on a cliff, exchanged stories (hers being absolutely hilarious) of past travels, and she gave me advice on life and love. She was traveling solo, and so was I. If I hadn’t been alone, I’m sure I never would have started a conversation with her and allowed her to inspire me as much as she did that night.
“But I’m not great at talking to strangers.” – Is this not even more reason to book a trip solo, so that you can get out there and conquer your fear of talking and meeting new people?
4. Do what you want, on your own time.
Spend two hours reading in a coffee shop in Berlin because you find it relaxing. Hike throughout Norway without having to worry about someone holding you back, or you (probably in my case) holding your super-fit marathon-running, mountain-climbing friend back.
Traveling solo means you’re free to do whatever it is that you want.
Build an itinerary that suits you. Traveling with others can become extremely stressful at times because everyone has a different set of preferences. What if your partner/friend wants a beach day, and you want to go explore? What if they want to go rage at a club, and you want to soak in a bubble bath at your hotel and watch a foreign movie in bed? When you travel alone, you’re not responsible for anyone else’s good times but your own. You’re allowed to be selfish, and you don’t have to apologize to anyone for it.
5. Find yourself.
Unplug yourself. Take the time to discover what it is that truly makes you happy. Soul search. When I went through the most difficult time in my life, I booked a month-long trip. I wasn’t solo for the majority of the trip, but my last leg was spent alone in Croatia, and that was the place where I had realized how much I had changed my life for the better. (READ: 10 Ways Travel Changed My Life Forever)
Do you remember the exact moment you knew your life had changed forever? When is the last time you actually unplugged and took the time to think about it? Being alone will allow you to reflect on your life, your troubles, your past, you future, your problems, but most importantly, the solutions.
Traveling alone is an amazing way to heal. So swallow your pride, conquer your fears and take the chance to explore the world – for yourself, by yourself.
Thank you so much for reading this post. Follow along on my day to day inspirations + travels on my instagram: @projectinspo.