Edit: Like many bloggers who write, curate and post content in their free time, I wrote this post months ago- back in December 2019, before COVID-19 evolved into a global pandemic.
Like many others, I’ve been isolating for months and understand the severity of the situation worldwide. I’ve chosen to let this post as planned because I’m hopeful for the day we’ll be able to travel again.
I remember my first solo trip like it was yesterday.
I’d been planning a two week long trip to Europe- it would be my first time back since visiting as a sophomore in college, nearly six years later. At the time, I was planning on going with someone I was dating- we’d discussed going back to London (both of us had been prior), then Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam via train.
We’d started planning months in advance, scouring sites for flight and hotel deals- only to break up in the weeks leading up to the trip.
Around the time we ended things, I had a long weekend in Seattle planned to visit a childhood friend.
During that trip, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and do a day trip to another country (Canada) by myself to gauge whether I’d be able to handle salvaging our trip plans and going to Europe on my own.
Even though it was just Seattle to Victoria, B.C., I planned everything myself- the boat, the activities while there, places to eat or drink- every detail. And, in doing so, got a taste of what it meant to be fully responsible for myself without the safety net of friends or family to help.
Spoiler: I had a fantastic time on that short visit to Victoria.
I loved the freedom that came with being able to wander anywhere and everywhere, and whenever I wanted to. It ruled only doing things that I was interested in- no compromising to appeal to someone else’s interests.
Returning from that trip, I decided to keep my flight plans for Europe, and started looking into Airbnbs to help trim lodging costs since I’d be going solo.
That trip to Europe was an absolute gamechanger, both in how I approached travel and in rekindling my love affair for Europe.
In the months and years to follow, I’d take many more solo trips to Europe, before finally moving to London for work, and then- bravest yet, leaving the safety of a full-time job to work as a freelancer and travel the world for a year by myself.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot.
Things haven’t always been easy, but they’re always worth it.
Far too often, I hear from people who want to take a solo trip but are afraid to.
Sometimes, people tell me they want to travel more, but don’t because they don’t have anyone to travel with.
We all know the story- maybe friends don’t have as many days off as you, or you can’t agree on a destination, or you want to take a trip that’s out of your travel companion’s budget.
I get it- a few years ago, I was in the group of people who simply didn’t take a trip if I couldn’t find someone to go with.
Coming back from that first solo trip to Europe, I realized I’d been waiting for life to hold my hand.
From then out, if I ever questioned the decision to take a trip, or felt unsure about doing something, I asked myself, If not now, when?
If you wait for someone to come along who’ll be your perfect travel buddy, you may be waiting a long time.
In the end, you regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you actually do.
Now, I prefer traveling on my own. An ideal trip is one where I have the freedom to do as I wish, and perhaps meet up with friends for part of the trip, but my travels and decisions aren’t reliant on others.
Before I started traveling solo, I was worried about so many things- doing things alone, my safety in foreign countries, not having as much fun, the list went on and on.
I’ve come to understand none of the things I may worry about, or be afraid of, compare to missing out on an experience.
All this to say, there isn’t a perfect time to take your first solo adventure.
As with other things in life, you may never ‘feel ready’, but that’s no reason to put off a dream, or wonder what could be.
20 Reasons to Take Your First Solo Trip
- You’ll realize you’re never truly alone: Regardless of where you travel to, it’s likely you’ll meet other people traveling solo, or people traveling together who are friendly. Put yourself out there, and I guarantee you’ll get some cool tales to tell in return
- You’ll gain perspective on how small of a space you occupy in the world: I love places that make me realize just how small I really am, it’s helpful perspective in remembering my ‘problems’ aren’t really as bad or tough as I think they are
- You’ll come to see the things that consumed your life at home, both in time and worry, no longer matter, and to some degree, seem insignificant
- You’ll meet the coolest people: Stay in hostels, strike up conversations with people at bars or cafes, drop by or join a coworking space, take a day tour, look for local Facebook groups with expats who’ve relocated to the place you’re visiting- there are endless ways to meet people while traveling. And, the best part is that forming friendships on the road feels much easier than in day-to-day life. Time is limited, so everything moves quicker and things are nowhere near as complicated
- You’ll learn you are more than capable of handling anything that comes your way- good or bad: When you travel solo and are 100% responsible for yourself, you truly come to understand what being ‘self-sufficient’ means. Your bags may get lost, you may miss a flight, or your Airbnb may look nothing like the pictures. But, if you expect there to be bumps in the road and have confidence in your ability to overcome them, you’ll not only learn from your mistakes, but come out stronger
- You’ll understand fear the unknown every day and in every place you visit becomes validation that you’re alive
- You’ll learn to roll with the punches and bounce back easier (in everyday life, and while traveling): You will have bad days- days when you feel lonely, exhausted and seemingly over it, but those will pass
- You’ll realize there’s nothing holding you back from seeing and exploring the beauty the world has to offer, except you
- You’ll see traveling alone is never as scary as you imagine it will be: Generally speaking, more things will go right than wrong, and you may feel lonely at times, but every one of those moments is reassurance you’re stepping out of your comfort zone
- You’ll see just how brave you are: Being brave doesn’t mean being fearless, no one is fearless. It means feeling the fear and doing it anyway, not letting that fear stop you from doing things you want to do
- You’ll see it’s possible to find the comfort of home, just about anywhere: Be it tea, a beauty product or food you’re familiar with, there are things around the world that remind me of the places I love most, and so even when I’m feeling the furthest from what’s familiar, there’s always something to help bring me back
- You’ll experience absolute freedom: You’re the boss of your own schedule when traveling on your own. You can do as much or as little as you like, and all at your own pace
- You’ll realize being scared is reason to be proud: A lot of people don’t do the things they’re afraid of, a lot of people don’t push through boundaries to leave their comfort zone. Traveling solo, doing so much yourself and being solely responsible for yourself, you’ll have moments where you’re afraid, but realize you’re capable of pushing through and coming out on the other side every time
- You’ll gain confidence in your ability to do things and persevere that’ll follow you home
- You’ll get to know yourself on a deeper, more meaningful level: When people rely on others for happiness or entertainment, they never really learn what they’re interested in, what drives them, or what their purpose is. Solo traveling, you’ll inevitably spend time alone, and sometimes, find yourself reflecting on what you’re doing, if it’s bringing you joy, etc. It wasn’t until I started taking trips on my own that I really started questioning if the life I was setting up back home was the life I wanted to live, or the live others wanted me to live. Solo travel gave me the strength I needed to make changes in pursuit of my happiest, most centered self
- You’ll learn to be deeply grateful for everything you take for granted in everyday life- access to hot water, ice in drinks, drinkable tap water, ability to wash clothes whenever, and so on
- You’ll see firsthand the world is a big, beautiful place, and there’s more to see and do than you could ever imagine
- You’re going to die: Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday. And, if you’re frontage enough to see old age, you don’t want to spend any time wondering what could have been
- You may hate solo travel, but at least you took the step to try it, that’s more than the majority can say. And, at least you’ll know whether it’s for you, instead of spending your life wondering
- You’ll see with time, that you’re not really traveling alone- you’re traveling with yourself
Above all else, don’t forget: No one starts out as a confident solo traveler. Being at ease with traveling solo happens over time as you become comfortable with making your own choices.
Have you ever taken a solo trip? What do you love most about solo travel? And if you haven’t travelled by yourself, what’s holding you back?
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