People often ask if they should travel alone or if they should wait for someone to come with them. From my experience, if you wait, you’ll be waiting for a while.
I think we find ourselves waiting a lot for someone to come with us just to have some comfort but years could go by till someone says yes and you could have never left the ground yet. Not everyone is born to be a wanderluster.
I waited 3 years for someone to come with me. 3 whole years. After having a taste of travelling after a 6 month adventure in Australia I was bound to the ground, asking if anyone would come with me and fill this inescapable wanderlust. People said yes. All the time. But then they would bail when things became to real and I was once again left disappointed till I met a boy from Germany who left his family and friends for an entire year to backpack North America.
I thought, “If this 18 year old can travel by himself for an entire year than I can survive a month alone.” And so I did.
So if you’re not entirely convinced yet then here are my 10 reasons why you should travel alone.
1. You can make your own schedule. One of the perks when I was by myself in Europe was I got to decided what I wanted to do when I wanted. When I was in Vienna I was feeling a bit lost and out of place so that night I booked a ticket to London leaving the next morning without any consequences! (except for that it was ridiculously expensive.)
2. You gain independence. I don’t think you really know yourself until you find yourself in a situation where you have no one else to depend on but yourself. Your family and friends aren’t there to solve your problems for you so you have no choice but to rely on your abilities. I’ve grown a lot over the years, physically and mentally, and I can honestly say travelling alone has brought me out of “my shell” the most. I made friends on my own, I’ve navigated train stations where I couldn’t read any signs on my own, the list goes on.
3. You become braver. When I told my family I was going to Eastern Europe alone I was met with overwhelming “No’s.” or “Why would you put yourself at that risk?” and my favourites, “Haven’t you seen the movie Taken?” or “Did you watch Hostel?” Despite all the negativity I was receiving I went for it anyways and don’t regret a single thing. Budapest and Brasov are some of my favourite cities now and I fully intend on going back.
4. You become more street smart. When you have no one watching your back you have to watch it for you. You learn to put your bag over your shoulder and hand over your purse on the streets and subways so no one can steal it easily, you know what streets to walk on and what streets to avoid, you research where you are going so you don’t find yourself lost in sketchy places, and you teach yourself to become more aware of your surroundings including the people.
5. You find yourself. You become more confident the longer you are alone. You become okay without the constant conversations and value your silence. You listen to your thoughts and hear more of the world around you. Your blinders come off and you realize you are not the only person in the world and that you are apart of an intricate maze of life.
6. You lose yourself. As well as finding yourself you are bound to lose yourself. What was once pleasure in life such as decadent coffees or queen size beds you realize you didn’t need those things to survive. They were just perks. I let go of the image of the person people had made for me and became who I new I always would be. I stopped pretending to be this girl my family and friends all thought I was because you grow up. You change and evolve and it’s okay if you’re not the person people remember you to be.
7. You appreciate home more. When you are alone in the world, away from your “real” life, you begin to understand how much you really have. That your life really isn’t that hard when you’re not abroad. When I came home from a 6 month trip to Australia and wandered off the plane to my waiting family, my mom in tears with a Booster Juice in hand, I realized how lucky I was. I had an amazing home, a loving family, my best friend, my adorable dogs and a beautiful country to proudly call my home.
8. Your trip becomes cheaper. When I travel with Aaron we always opt for a private room instead of a dorm room. Nothings more sad than sleeping in a bunk bed looking at your partner wishing you could both fit on the single bunk mattress (although we have tried. Naturally I got pushed off.) You also eat out less, as in you don’t go to many restaurants when you’re by yourself than if you were with someone.
9. You make new friends. I am an introvert at heart and have never been a chatter box (unless you’re my best friend or boyfriend then my filters are completely off and I’m a “nut bar” as they say.) I’ve made friends in London who I am still in contact with, friends in Munich and Paris and met an awesome woman in Budapest who happened to be a renown journalist. If it wasn’t for my Aussie friend I met in London then Fernweh wouldn’t exist! He helped me set up my website in 5 seconds when I told him I was back and forth emailing my websites hosts for over a month and they weren’t helping!
10. You over come your fears of “being alone.” When I booked my solo trip to Europe I was all talk and fearless. When I was actually alone I was overcome with an overwhelming “What have I done..?” I was alone. Everyone I knew was literally on the other side of the world and I was alone in Vienna with no idea what to do with myself. It’s all great in the movies until you put yourself in the situation and realize you actually have to do stuff. That fear passed quickly as I flew to London and did everything alone, including the London Eye, surrounded by couples and two bratty children, being completely content. In Munich I met a French girl and we quickly became friends and when she was doing her internship as a scientist (I’m not joking) I had no problem wandering around and making my way through the Christmas Markets by myself.