At the age of 22, I took my first vacation by myself. It wasn't something I'd really thought about or had a burning desire to do growing up going on mission trips with 30+ high school kids (who were probably fairly annoying). But it was my time abroad in London where I found inspiration.
In the past, the phrase "one is the loneliest number that you'll ever know" would gloomily loop in my thoughts whenever I considered traveling alone. But after meeting a young woman of similar age who like to travel alone and hearing her tales of amazing experiences and fascinating people, the record scratched and the music abruptly switched to the line, "I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t do you know what it mean?" Heyyy. Maybe I can pull this off.
I was welcomed into the world of solo travel, a fast expanding movement with women at the forefront, by that new mindset and that first trip to Italy.
If traveling is the greatest way to learn, then traveling alone is like taking an intense crash course.
Anyone in her 20s who is capable of traveling alone ought to do so. Along with the trinkets you'll collect along the road, you'll learn some essential life lessons.
1. When you travel alone, the most essential voice of all is amplified: your own.What activities do you wish to engage in? What piques your interest? What would you want to eat, hear, or discover? What does your spirit need? How does your body feel? We too frequently allow other people's voices and opinions to overpower our own. Particularly as women, this may become our default operating system. Being openly egotistical while traveling alone is the ideal way to make room for spontaneity and the delightful element of surprise.
2. When you're by yourself, you quickly learn how to rely on yourself before turning to others for assistanceThere is no better way to gain self-assurance than to get lost in a foreign country halfway across the globe at night on the wrong side of the city and then calmly plan your way back to where you belong. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge or anything...
When traveling with others, it's simple to assume that they have the necessary information, such as maps and plans. But when you're the only one around, you quickly learn to rely on yourself before turning to others for help.
To be clear, I'm not advocating that you rely entirely on yourself. No, there are times when assistance is required, and it's important to have the humility to request it. But the key is to recognize the distinctions. When the only people in your immediate vicinity are strangers or hazy acquaintances, you are more likely to try to solve problems on your own, which is a learning experience.
Learn to start by looking inside since you likely already have the solution. That insight fosters a feeling of empowerment that permeates all facets of your life.
3. Look around you with an open mind and see what you can learn from the people and cultures thereWhen traveling with friends or a partner, it's simple to get preoccupied with the individual seated across from you and overlook the chance to engage in conversation with your fellow passengers.
Traveling alone might sometimes be lonely. However, the scenario entirely changes if you choose to transform the early discomfort of self-sufficiency into an opportunity to connect with someone. Who knows, you could make a friend for life or just a trip companion. There is still a chance to learn something new and meet someone intriguing, even if the interaction ends there.
Even if you may never see one other again, knowing this does not imply the relationship was wasted; on the contrary. Enjoy your connection as it is at the time.
4. Give up on your restrictionsOur traveling partners are often our strongest supporters, encouraging us to try new things like the excursion, the strange mystery meal, or even jumping out of the aircraft. Although the final one is not my preferred experience, I am not familiar with your circumstances.
While your fellow passengers could push you, they can also provide comfort. Perhaps you're keeping yourself from engaging in a particular experience because you think the other person won't like it. Perhaps you haven't questioned your hesitation because those around you haven't, and it may be supported by fear.
These issues become apparent when traveling alone. It also reveals how resilient and strong you really are. You have an exponential growth potential, and going it alone gives you the freedom to go lean into your limitations.
5. Purchase the pass. It might mark a turning point in your lifeEvery time you try to coordinate with more people, time or money will always be an issue. Although I've traveled with some wonderful people, I would still venture to say that the ideal travel companion does not exist. similar ones? Absolutely. But you are the ideal partner for yourself.
It goes without saying that when you have a party of two, and even more so as your small group expands, your priorities change. But if you can, schedule some time just for you. It might only be a day trip. It's alright.
And perhaps you shouldn't, my single ladies who are searching for that special someone. The moment may have come. You don't want to look back and regret not traveling to the places or fulfilling your lifelong ambitions because you were preoccupied with waiting for other people to fit into your schedule.
Purchase the pass. You might miss out on a pivotal opportunity in your journey if someone else is unable to attend. Don't ponder the past. You can find out by going.
A solo trip isn't intended to be one size fits all, just like any other kind of travel. Perhaps you'd be more comfortable in a meetup group for lone travelers. You could also just take a few extra days to do your own thing if you have a travel companion who can accompany you on some of the journey.
My preferred method of solo travel is to visit friends who reside in amazing locations around the globe and discover their cities while they are at work. The best of both worlds: a solo trip with a dinner date every evening.
Whatever you choose, don't let the stereotype of what traveling alone looks like prevent you from taking the trip. Do your research, be sensible, safe, and aware that there are some places where women should never travel alone. But there are a ton more that will provide interesting and educational adventures.
Decide to go your own way and see what you can discover.