Traveling solo was a very introspective experience for me. I had no competing desires that had to be taken into account in order to have a “good” traveling experience. The freedom is great and the “one-on-one” time with yourself is priceless.
Traveling teaches you so many things- not only in a cultural way but also on such a personal-level that will eventually have an effect in your life. Traveling is a two-way learning process. You absorb, experience, you react, and you share. But, when traveling solo, this process intensifies. Why? Because you learn more about yourself than you ever imagined.
Normally, we don’t have time for ourselves and we get lost performing our daily routines- work, commute, errands, etc. we tend to ignore those little details of ourselves that really define us. So, when can we have time for ourselves? Well…. Traveling is a great option. Even more if you travel solo- the perfect time for deep introspection. Traveling alone can give us some of the answers we’ve been seeking and help us discover the meaning of all our disorganized thoughts. Look at it this way: that is your time to be you. It’s your world, your time, your adventure.
Here are a few things I learned from my recent solo adventure:
When traveling, either by yourself or with someone your patience is almost always tested. You learn to have patience with yourself when things are out of your control (like delays, weather, etc.). You also learn not to waste your patience with things that don’t deserve it (like certain attitudes, intolerance, etc.).
For instance, on my most recent solo trip, it rained the first day I got to town. I had planned to walk around with all my luggage (I traveled lightly). However, after a few hours of walking around a rainy city I noticed I needed to get all my crap off my shoulder soon. So I became scrappy and bought myself a backpack. Shoved all my stuff in there and continued on my adventure. The thing is, back home, the rain would have most likely ruined my mood and I would have been impatient about finding where to put my stuff and gotten overwhelmed and irritated. Instead, I smiled, I became resourceful and found the beauty in the rain. I was so overcome with happiness by being in the city that NOTHING, not even rain could stop me from thoroughly enjoying my trip. And, turns out, I’m not a completely crazy irritated, impatient person, and maybe it took coming to NYC by myself to realize that.
2. How to be non-judgmental
I ate alone on my trip. And it was glorious. Walking into a restaurant and saying “table for 1 please” was the greatest feeling I have experienced. It’s so freeing to feel like no one gives a s**t about who your eating with, what your eating. It’s also a really peaceful experience to eat alone at a restaurant. I truly enjoyed my meal. Was focused on all my senses, tasting the delicious food I was eating. It felt nourishing for my body too.
I used to feel self-conscious about dining at a sit-down restaurant solo. But this trip and this whole experience taught me that it’s absolutely okay to sit alone. I am confident enough in myself that even if I do get the seldom stare, that I am no longer self-conscious that I am sitting alone.
3. Traveling alone makes you more assertive and intrepid.
You become the ultimate decision-maker. No one else is going to answer if you positively whine, “so, what’s the plan?” One of my best experiences traveling alone was venturing my way around NYC. As someone whose never been in NYC by myself I was definitely a little hesitant to embark on this adventure. I had to plan out the bus ride, find places to eat, and figure out the ever evolving and confusing NYC subway system. Fortunately, my memory is pretty solid and technology is beyond amaaaaze. But regardless of technology and my lovely memory, I felt so independent and in control when I knew exactly where to go and when.
My trip was completely worthwhile. Not only for the magnificence that is NYC, but also for the confidence boost. Conquering little challenges in unfamiliar territory will make you feel so smug.
Now, I’d love to hear from all of you. Have you ever traveled solo? If so, what did you learn about yourself from the experience? Any tips for other solo travelers? Please share all your comments and feedback below.
See you all next week.