5 Reasons You Should Travel Alone
(At least once)
I was 22 when I followed my wandering heart across the Atlantic. I found a job in the Netherlands as an au pair to supplement travel costs and have a home base. Then I would journey around Europe, as much as I could and mainly travel alone.
I’m not going to lie, it was one of the most challenging, but also one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done. Traveling alone can be super lonely and intimidating but don’t let that stop you! It is so worth it.
1. It forces you out of your comfort zone
The first solo trip I took was to Paris. My host family owned a house in the French Ardennes and they would spend summers there. My host family thought it was super boring for a young 20 something, so they sent me to Paris… Alone… On a whim.
I didn’t have a plan.
My host family took me to the train station, bought me a ticket, and told me, “look for a youth hostel. They are safer”.
“uh… ok… thanks.”
This was not my comfort zone… Possibly the furthest thing from my comfort zone.
But I survived and maybe even thrived.
2. It forces you to think for yourself and become a problem solver
On the train to Paris there was (thankfully) Wifi. I franticly googled “youth hostels in Paris” and found one that looked the least freighting.
After I had booked that, I had a small panic attack because I didn’t know my way around Paris. I googled the directions from Gare du Nord to the hostel and took screenshots of the directions.
I felt overwhelmed.
But I was doing this. On my own, alone.
And you know what? That felt wonderful.
After getting to Paris, I realized that I could do what I wanted. I could go to the Eiffel Tower when I wanted. I didn’t have to follow other people’s schedules.
That first day in Paris was kind of liberating. I explored this romanic city how I wanted, I ate a bagette in the park, and I went to a cafe and quietly drank a latte while people watching.
3. You’ll make new friends
Let us start of this section by laying down the fact that I am an introvert. I find people very interesting and love hearing stories (hence my blog), however I don’t like small talk or crowds of people. Meaningful is important to me.
While in Paris, I was sort of basking in my introvertedness. I loved wandering by myself and breathing in the culture from a distance.
However, my host family also shipped me off to Dublin alone and stayed at a hostel. I originally asked to stay in a large hostel room with about 15 other people, but they had a large group who asked for that room.
They asked if I would mind a small room with 3 other girls.
Three other girls. That probably means I have to talk to them and not sink into a corner in the room.
But it was one of my best experiences traveling alone. These 3 girls were traveling together and we became friends instantly. We went dancing together, walked around the city together the next day, and experienced a new country together.
Making friends from all over the world is amazing to me. And staying at hostels makes it easier to meet like-minded travelers.
4. It gives you time and space to reflect
No matter how or where you travel, it will be eye opening on some level.
Traveling alone gives you the space to reflect on a different level because you are not fixed to anyone else’s schedule. You get to decide what and when you do something.
‘When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist
When traveling alone, you it get the opportunity to reflect on the people and culture around you. It is open eyeing to see a different country and culture.
I remember my last day in Paris sitting in the Jardins du Trocadéro, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, eating my croissant. It was early in the morning in late August, so it wasn’t that busy around the park. I was thinking back over my time in Paris and how even though I had a difficult year, I had already accomplished four of my life long dreams: to travel to Europe, to see the Eiffel Tower, to live abroad, and the learn a new language.
5. It detoxes you from technology
My first time traveling alone around Europe was in 2012. I was young and could not afford to buy the world sim card. So I traveled without a phone.
Sounds super scary, right?
Well it wasn’t. It was actually amazing.
Adding to my fourth point, it gave me time and space to reflect without being distracted by facebook or instagram. Detoxing from my phone was nice. I could truly travel alone.
Have you ever traveled alone? What was your experience?
Or, do you want to travel alone? Whats holding you back?
xo, Erin Kay