Growing up in a family of travel agents, mileage point collectors, and wanderlust aficionados, traveling for me has always been the norm. Studying abroad in the Australian jungle, riding elephants in Thailand, my dad’s 50th birthday celebration in Rome—I have grown up with a desperate urge to see the world. However, when travel buddies are hard to come by, sometimes it’s crucial to just GO and take a trip for yourself. For me, solo travel is a lifestyle choice that I can honestly say has helped shape me into a better person. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to book that plane ticket right now!
1. Building Confidence
I took my first solo international trip to Bali, Indonesia as a result of a mistake airline fare. When I was alerted on my cell phone at 6am about this too-good-to-be-true mistake fare, I had roughly ten minutes to book the flight before the airline caught on to their computer glitch and pulled the deal entirely. Would I miss out on the opportunity because I needed the security of traveling with a partner? Without much time to process my options, I picked a random timeframe a few months out and clicked “book”, right then and there. When I told my friends and colleagues about my spontaneous upcoming adventure, I was met with mixed reactions. “You’re going WHERE by yourself?” “Why?” “Is that safe?” my coworkers questioned. A few weeks before I was scheduled to depart from the east coast, my nerves kicked in and I started to seriously doubt myself. “What makes me think I can actually do this alone?” “What if I find myself in dangerous situations?” “What if I won’t have fun?” There were a few moments before my departure where I thought about cancelling the entire trip because of the constant stream of worries flooding through my head. But, the day finally came where I boarded that plane (more like five planes in a 72 hour timeframe), and I did it with an open mind. I took the plunge and spent a life-changing two weeks in Southeast Asia by myself. Yes, there were times where I found myself in an uncomfortable or tricky situation. There were times where my plans didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped for. But because I was on my own, I was forced to embrace my time in a new country, and take my experiences for what they were worth. Without even realizing it, I had gained a tremendous amount of confidence over the course of those two weeks and found myself in a new mindset at the end of my trip.
Self-assurance isn’t something that comes naturally to most- especially when you are feeling vulnerable in a foreign country. It’s also not a skill that can be taught, but rather comes from within, and with experience. Confidence is a mentality that can and will be adapted after you put yourself in a situation outside your comfort zone. As a solo traveler, your confidence will build up over time. If you’re concerned about taking a trip alone for the first time, try traveling closer to home. Or perhaps, take a shorter trip (two to four days). Once you have that first solo trip under your belt, I can guarantee you’ll find yourself pining for more adventures. Just watch!
2. Gaining Independence
Have you tested your limits in ways that you might not have even thought to be possible? When I was in Japan this fall, I found myself completely and utterly lost in a remote town outside of Kyoto. Without any cell phone reception and even more critically, any knowledge of how to speak a lick of Japanese, my survival instincts kicked in. I needed help and I needed it fast as the sun started to set. I attempted to flag down anyone I could find on the street to ask for directions. A young man on his bicycle graciously guided me the full three miles back to town without having ever communicated verbally with me! When you venture out alone, independence is key to a successful solo travel trip. Oftentimes I found myself saying, “If I can get through THIS, I can get through anything!” You’ll be amazed at how independent you will become after a few solo trips under your belt!
3. Learning to be Present
When we’re in our comfort zones, an entire day can come and go without much thought or effort. We tend to get caught up in our daily routines and develop habits that restrict us from fully ‘being in the moment’. Solo traveling heightens every sense in my body and allows me to be fully present. The notion of learning to be ‘in the now’ helps me become emotionally open to meeting new people and building relationships; stay focused on achieving goals—like consistently challenging myself and trying new activities, and soak in my surroundings. Being present opens my eyes to the reality of appreciating where I am and how I got here.
When I am living in the moment, I have found that people are actually more inclined to interact with me—an excellent quality to possess when solo traveling. Whether it’s the guy in the coffee shop who invites you to join him for breakfast, or the nice elderly couple who sit next to you on the plane and want to learn more about your travels, staying present will attract a totally new dimension to your experience.
Learning to travel without others will undoubtedly test your limits and boundaries. Yes, there will be times of panic and times when you just want someone else to be with. However, when you are able to face your fears and conjure up the inner strength it takes to overcome the obstacles of exploring the unknown, you will muster up the courage and independence to know that YES, YOU CAN get through these situations by yourself, and you WILL have a great time doing it. This newfound mentality will serve you well not just in your travels, but also in other areas of your life.
If you could pick somewhere to travel to on your own, where would it be? Let me know! I would love to hear from you! For more on my solo travel adventures, I run a travel Instagram blog: @TravelWithRoxy. Let’s connect!