I’m not going to pretend it’s not: traveling alone for the first time can be scary. My first trip traveling alone was a 4 day train ride cross country. I took the Amtrak from Penn Station in my homecity of New York and I spent four days riding trains, hopping trains, and looking out at the diverse scenery of the United States. From the flat lands of the midwest, to the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, I saw it all: deserts, mountain ranges, cities, and outstretched farmlands. It was the first trip that opened my eyes and made me want to see more of this world. Prior to that, I had adventured Scotland and London with my friends from Drama Club in high school, but that particular trip didn’t make me fall in love with travel as that first trip I traveled alone did
Here are my top 6 reasons why YOU should make traveling alone (at least once) a priority!
Reason #1: You meet more friends traveling solo than you would with a partner
Reason #2: You’ll become more Independent
Being dependent on others is practically programmed in our DNA. From conception, to birth, to childhood and to our young adulthood years, we are always surrounded by others. That has led us to depend on others: our siblings, parents, friends, teachers, mentors, partners, etc. But when you are alone out in the world, you are forced to learn independence quickly. When I was 21, I took a 10 week backpacking trip through Europe. 6 of those weeks were by myself and 4 of them were with my long-time boyfriend. During those first 6 weeks by myself, I was scared and nervous and unsure and cautious all the time about where I was going and if I was being safe. Those 6 weeks alone really taught me how independent I can be. From hiking 6 hours to the top of the Swiss Alps to figuring out how to get from Italy to France, I had only myself to rely on. That self-reliance gave me a deeper independence than I had before. Learning self-reliance and independence is one of the greatest gifts we can learn in life. Your health and happiness should be in your hands and your hands only.
Reason #3: You’ll become super resourceful
When you are traveling alone and only have yourself to rely on, your resourcefulness sky rockets. You’ll figure out to solve problems quickly. Especially when you are in a foreign country and don’t understand the local language, your resourcefulness will become your greatest ally. My boyfriend is incredibly resourceful. He is always fixing things and solving problems when I need help with something. But traveling alone taught me that I can fix my eletronics myself and create a first-aid kit when I get injured…that I can use my resourcefulness to climb tall cliffs and rocks without having a hand to lift me up. These skills are invaluable.
Reason #4: You’ll learn more about yourself
Self-discovery while traveling alone is huge. All that time thinking and learning about different cultures by yourself will make you self-actualize so much, it’ll make you a brand new person. So much of our lives is heavily influenced by other people. The people we surround ourselves with end up influencing us in major ways. What do we do if we have questions? We ask people for advice. We google. When you’re traveling alone for an extended amount of time, you start to rely solely on your inner voice. All of that background noise becomes silent. All of those hours chatting with girlfriends is spent journaling and meditating. I spent 6 hours hiking a mountain thinking by myself, that I thought I was going crazy. I started singing songs and thinking thoughts out loud to keep myself company. And with those experiences came a lot of learning. I discovered what I really wanted to do with my life when I got back home. I made drastic life changes and choices that best benefited me and my spirit. All that time traveling alone will shine a light on you. And that is a life-altering, beautiful gift.
Reason #5: F-R-E-E-D-O-M
You get to decide where you are going, when you want! No more asking your partner if going to a certain city is cool with them. No longer will you have to accompany them to countless restaurant meals, when you would rather save and budget your money for a skydiving expedition. If they want to sleep in but you’re an early bird? Not a problem! When you’re traveling alone, you get to call all the shots. And nothing spells freedom like deciding how you’re going to spend your days.
For example, the night before my train to Amsterdam, I decided last minute to change my itinerary. Instead of going west to Amsterdam and Belgium, I decided to change my plans and go East to Budapest and Prague. And that was the best impulsive decision I have ever made while traveling. If I had a partner traveling with me, and he/she didn’t want to change plans last minute, than I would’ve missed out on seeing those cities. Go travel by yourself; that level of freedom is something you may not ever get again.
Reason #6: Getting out of your comfort zone
They say, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And traveling solo is nerve-wrecking and definitely not in our comfort zone. Traveling to foreign destinations is scary! And by yourself? Even worse. But traveling solo was actually one of my greatest learning lessons: it taught me to get out of my comfort zone and explore something different and uncertain. It taught me to face my fears. And isn’t that what life is about? Life is meant to be adventured and explored and challenged. Challenge yourself to step out of that comfortable lifestyle – I bet it’ll be an experience you’ll remember and reminisce on forever.