I recently returned from a trip to San Francisco, CA(check out the blog post here) and I had a blast. The best part about my trip? I went alone. So, when I told my mom that I was flying out the night before leaving, her first question was ''Who are you going with?'' "Just me!", I excitedly replied. Since we were on the phone, I couldn't see but she probably rolled her eyes or just shook her head in worry like a caring mother would. She wasn't the only one though. Everyone I told had the same skeptical response. They'd say, "OMG! by yourself?" or "Wow, that's so brave!". I didn't see it that way though. I mean, I do live in a city by myself. I go to the store by myself. I go to restaurants by myself and with my roommate's work schedule, I basically live by myself. I'm alone a lot and I enjoy it, for a variety of reasons. Don't get me wrong...I love my friends and being surrounded by great people. In fact, I just returned from a reunion trip in New Orleans with some people from my Europe trip and I had way too much fun! I think that life is all about people and relationships we share, but I love my own company just as much.
Traveling or doing anything alone can be seen as scary or just plain weird. That couldn't be further from the truth though! Traveling alone and spending time alone is so refreshing and beneficial to personal growth. It allows you to see places you've dreamed of without constraint, meet locals, step outside of your comfort zone, and truly reflect.
Here are 5 reasons you should take a solo trip...soon!
1. Do what you want when you want
It can be stressful planning a trip, especially with someone who has different interests than you. It feels really nice to just go where you want to go when you want. You don't have to be accommodating or forgo certain activities because your friend doesn't feel like going. See everything you want to see on your own time!
2. Sometimes you just have to!
How many times have you planned a trip with friends only for it to be canceled at the last minute? How many times have you and your best friend talked about visiting somewhere but never actually get around to planning anything? Due to hectic schedules, family constraints, and finances, it can be really difficult to plan trips with friends. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't go though. You don't need to wait on anyone to travel or do anything else for that matter.
3. Meet New People
Going alone doesn't mean you'll be stuck in isolation. Personally, I'm more likely to speak to strangers(the good kind) when I'm alone. When I'm with friends, I don't even try to meet others because I'm focused on spending time with them. However, when I'm alone I'm more observant and therefore more likely to smile or speak to a random person. People talked to me every place I went in SF, without me ever initiating the conversation and that was extremely refreshing. If you don't want to be alone the whole time you can stay at a Hostel, join a tour group, or simply speak to the person sitting next to you in a local restaurant. You'll be able to meet locals and possibly other like-minded travelers. This gives you the freedom to spend time with others when you want and then retreat to yourself when you want alone time.
4. Step outside of your comfort zone
Visiting a new place is always exciting. A lot of people fear traveling alone, so you'll be proud of yourself once you actually challenge yourself to do it. It definitely helps establish a sense of independence. Not missing your flight or actually finding your way around a city without getting lost feels like a really big deal when you did it by yourself. It builds confidence to realize that you're doing things you once feared or thought you'd somehow screw up. And if you do screw up, you keep going just as you would with a group of friends. Its certainly not the end of the world.
5. Know Yourself
I'm a firm believer that spending time alone is the only way you can really know who you are without the words, thoughts, and actions of others constantly influencing you. Your forced to be more observant and take more in. Traveling alone allows you to really spend time with yourself and get to know yourself. Stop in a coffeeshop and read the book you've been wanting to finish. Visit places you've always wanted to go. Strike up a conversation with a rando and then be proud of yourself for doing so. Walk silently along the beach at sunset with the only sounds being the waves as you reflect on where you've been, appreciate where you're at and envision where you want to go next.
Like I said, traveling alone and with friends are both equally amazing. In fact, taking a trip with the right people/person is an absolute blast and that experience can be extremely meaningful in building certain bonds/relationships. Just know that you don't have to wait for someone to journey along with you. You can do it alone and thats a journey within itself. This was my first solo trip, but I know it definetely won't be my last.