A two letter phrase that intimidates and scares off way too many people: “traveling alone”.
Don’t let it scare you. Please.
Traveling solo can seem a bit intimidating – but my oh my, it is life altering.
You find yourself and learn about yourself. This sounds super cliche and sounds like it’s straight out of a horoscope reading….but I promise you it’s the real deal. When you’re traveling alone – you get to know, well….yourself. You find out more about what you like and don’t like – whether that be places, foods, or maybe even alcoholic beverages. It’s just a very peaceful, soulful, experience. When you’re alone in a city where nobody knows your name – you have the choice to be who you want to be. You truly get to know yourself. Find yourself. And grow.
It forces you out of your comfort zone. This is awesome. Because I think everyone needs this little push sometimes. Talking to strangers and introducing yourself to people can be a little nerve-wrecking. But when you’re traveling alone – you have to step up….introduce yourself, talk to people, ask questions, and meet new people. It’s fantastic.
Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. No, no, no! Traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re alone the entire time. Depending on how you like to travel – you can meet people in so many different ways. Whether you’re couchsurfing and staying with incredible locals or you’re staying in a hostel and meeting fellow travelers your age – meeting people can be a breeze. And they want to meet you too. So go for it. Say hi. And then go out for a pub crawl, climb a mountain, watch a movie in a different language, or go paragliding together. You only need to be alone if you want to be.
You get to run on your own time. Yes. One of the best things about solo travel. You get to do whatever you want…..when you want. You don’t have to do anything you’re not interested in. Don’t get me wrong, traveling with groups and studying abroad will still be great for you. But when you’re traveling alone, it’s nice to be able to have endless free time. Don’t like museums? Cool. You don’t have to go to any. You want to hike that mountain? Do it. You don’t have to worry about any “majority rules” within a group or someone simply just saying “I don’t want to do that”. You’re on your own, kid. And it’s magical.
You will gain confidence. Traveling alone isn’t easy. You’re going to run into problems. You’re going to get lost. You’re going to be put into situations where you don’t know what to do. When you’re going into a trip where you’re traveling alone – you’re going to be nervous. You’re going to want to cancel. Because what were you thinking?! Traveling alone?! But in the end….you will gain so much confidence within yourself. You will be a stronger person. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to conquer the world by yourself. Being able to order off of a menu in Italian, mastering the transportation systems in Spain, making friends with the cashier at a market in Germany – it’s all going to make you a more confident person.
You encounter those “peak experiences” more often. A psychology term. According to Abraham Maslow, peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, and possibly the awareness of “ultimate truth” and the unity of all things. And you have a greater chance to feel that when traveling alone. Whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop and staring out the window in New York, walking down the winding streets of Portugal, or sitting on top of a mountain in Norway….you have time to collect your thoughts. You have time to reflect. You suddenly will get these moments where, out of no where, you just feel like you are right where you need to be.
Traveling alone sounds and seems intimidating. Being alone is something we shouldn’t be scared of, though. Solo travel has changed my life – changed me as a person – and has helped me grow into a more careful, happier, independent individual.
If you have any questions about solo traveling, please feel free to ask. If you’d like to see more travel photos, follow me on Instagram – @waddupkim !
Xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS