My first solo trip wasn’t exactly intentional. After deciding I was ready for a longer travel journey overseas, so began my difficulty finding someone whose schedule matched well enough to join me. Even after some hefty bribing, it became clear that none of my closest friends could coordinate travel. Still, I was so desperate to continue with my plan that I messaged practically any loose acquaintance who even remotely indicated interest in travel. (We took the same yoga class once, AND you went to the Indiana dunes this summer? Let’s spend a month together abroad!) Unsurprisingly, this did not yield many positive results.
At this point I was left with a choice. Did I wait to reschedule the trip for a time when a good friend could join me? (The option my parents HEARTILY encouraged.) Or did I simply say screw it, I’m going to travel now, because I have the opportunity and desire to do so?
Fast forward to me buckled into Qantas premium economy, soaring 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Chicago to Australia — all on my own. It was terrifying, electrifying, and most notably, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My one-month solo journey led to discoveries I never could have anticipated, and just may be the same reasons you should plan your own solitary adventure.
1. Solo travel reveals your independence
Before my trip down under, I’d always considered myself independent, yet I’m not sure I’d ever been forced to rely on myself completely. Now, I arranged all of my own travel plans, navigated my way through foreign locations seamlessly (okay, fine… with major help from Google Maps), and simply had fun on my own! I wasn’t dependent on anyone else to take care of me or show me a good time. Eating in a restaurant alone? No problem! Spontaneous waterfall tour? Let’s jump on (and into) that! You’ll feel great scouting out original places to explore, making new social plans, and most importantly, trusting yourself.
2. No need to compromise
Along those lines, one of the most freeing aspects of traveling by yourself is that there’s no need to compromise! My trips with friends grew tricky when differing travel styles or conflicts over what to do each day came to light. Now, I could pack and plan my schedule based on exactly how I felt. It was liberating! Each day was an adventure I laid out to my liking, which resulted in a trip without any regrets. Want to skip that “must-see” war museum to check out some cool street art instead? Go for it! You’ve got no one to answer to but yourself.
3. Opportunities to meet new people
We all know how easy it is to remain isolated from others when you’re with your besties. Why chat with the intriguing stranger at the bar or sit with an unfamiliar face on the bus when you’re already having a great time with your own friends? Traveling by yourself eliminates this crutch, but also frees you for striking up these new conversations. You’ll be more motivated to extend yourself when you’re on your own, and now you have the exciting opportunity to connect and learn from new people with different backgrounds. Some of the closest friends I made in Australia I visited again in Europe!
4. Become more present
Without the constant distraction of a travel companion, you’ll notice you become a lot more present and aware of your surroundings. During my trip to Australia, I spent so much more time appreciating where I was and fully taking in each moment. I was able to concentrate and truly live in each moment, which heightened my experience of that beautiful destination and the joy I felt even more. This calm, present state of mind has become a feeling I still chase to this day.
5. Discover more about yourself
Perhaps most profoundly, all of these factors result in learning an insane amount about yourself! Not only does some alone time provide incredible opportunity for reflection, but it also showed me so many new facets of myself. I problem-solved stressful situations with relative ease, enjoyed living on a newly spontaneous schedule, and overall discovered how inspired I am by exploration and adventure. My short, solo travel abroad taught me more about myself in one month than I’d learned in some years, and provided me with the insight and clarity to change my goals and lifestyle forever moving forward.