Many say that they love to travel, but in my book there is one factor that shows how truly passionate you are about seeing the world: if you’re willing to do it alone.
Now, I don’t mean you’ve got to grab your backpack and trek through all of Europe by yourself, but I always encourage any small adventures, even if for just a weekend, a day, or a couple of hours. Some of my best memories have occurred while traveling alone. It opens you up to a new state of vulnerability, but it’s in those moments when anything can happen.
Here are three reasons why I think everyone should go on a solo adventure.
1. You make or break your own trip.
You are 100% in charge. When traveling alone, you are relying on yourself to make it a good trip. Traveling at your own pace allows you to see the things that you want to see.
2. You are far more approachable when traveling alone.
One of my best travel experiences was when I had lunch and went to a museum with a stranger that I had met at a bus stop. I had simply asked the guy if he knew which bus went downtown, and before we knew it, we had both realized we were traveling alone and decided to stick together! That happened to be a bit more of a coincidental case, however, I’ve always found that when traveling in larger groups, it’s easy to just stick with your group.
3. Getting out of your comfort zone.
It’s a weird state of vulnerability. When you’re lost in a foreign place with a buddy, you never really feel that lost. But when you’re wandering the street of a new city, and it’s you and only you, there’s a thrilling feeling in your stomach that you can’t quite explain. Once you do get pass this feeling, there’s nothing but fearlessness.
Though the solo excursions always make great stories in hindsight, it’s always, always, always important to be cautious. As a five feet tall female who still looks like she’s in high school, I have always made sure to take extra precautions when traveling alone.
Here are my three tips when planning on going solo:
1. Research transportation.
This is so very important but often overlooked. When you think about visiting a new city and drawing up an itinerary, it’s obvious to research the different sites and how you want to spend your time there. However, I always encourage to take just 2 minutes to figure out how you’re going to get to wherever you’re going. Have a rough plan from how exactly you plan getting to your hostel from the airport — sometimes that ends up being the most difficult journey (especially when you fly RyanAir!)
2. Write down the address of where you’re staying.
This is especially encouraged when going to a city that you are unfamiliar with the language. When studying abroad in South Korea, the first thing I did was write down my apartment address in my phone so that I could simply show my cab driver or a local where I needed to go if I was ever lost or in an unfamiliar area.
3. Don’t forget about the seasonality!
I’ve traveled to Amsterdam alone twice, once in the summer and a second time in the winter. While my trip in the summer went flawlessly, I had completely forgotten that the day is cut much shorter in the winter time. By 6:00 pm the sky had gone dark, and I suddenly did not feel so great about walking back to my hostel alone. Be aware of what your travel city is like at the time of your travel!
I find it healthy to get some “me time” to be alone and reflect, so why not while seeing a new part of the world? Get lost and explore.