It was 7 am. I had boarded a train in Wurzburg, Germany after being the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding. My wedding makeup from the night before was still intact, my slept-on hair-spray’d bun kept neatly in place with bobby pins; I was wearing my favorite faux leather jacket, sunglasses on, and I was headed to Paris … alone.
Whenever I tell people my favorite thing to do is travel alone, they’re usually pretty shocked (?) amazed (?) confused (?). Considering my last two years of absolute singleness — being alone is practically second nature. Which – if you ask me – needs to be encouraged more in today’s society. But back to my first point: I’m not talking about being alone; I’m talking about how there’s nothing like traveling alone.
I’m writing this from New York City – where I’m taking my second “alone trip”; the first was traveling alone for two weeks from Germany to Paris in the fall of 2016. Rewind back to that time: my plans with all my friends joining me in Paris fell through and I [reluctantly] found myself jumping from cafe to cafe, attempting to perfect my terrible high school French, taking notes, learning to navigate the city, having quiet time and doing whatever the heck I wanted to do that very day. The trip pushed me to exactly where I needed to be: right out of my comfort zone. And boy, did I love it!
SO here I am back again, going s-o-l-o — but this time in New York City.
I’ve been wanting to talk about this more because “being alone” (whatever that even means – simply not hanging out with the squad every second of every day) isn’t exactly encouraged in this day and age.
Here’s Why I Love Traveling Alone:
It sparks inspiration and creativity. I visited a panel with the Man Repeller during this trip and she spoke about how the lack of boredom (because of how distracting smartphones are to us) is mentally stumping our creativity. When I travel, I spend a lot of time people watching or out walking — which allows me to put the phone away and be in the moment. I definitely feel mentally stimulated and refreshed when I’m not nose deep in the social world every minute of every day.
You get to make your own itinerary – or simply not make one at all. Traveling with other people can be challenging; everyone has a different idea of what travel looks like in their own head. The best part about going alone? Your only person to please is yourself. Congratulations girl! You can do whatever-the-heck-you-want-to-do.
You are Forced to Meet New People (even if you’re sometimes shy like me). You pick: Coffee shop or bar, make convo – people are easier to chat with than you think. One of my best friend’s favorite lines for stirring up convo is “so where are you from?” Simple, easy and everyone has to have an answer.
It’s the perfect opportunity to learn new things. In Austin, I definitely live in a comfortable bubble. For example, in NYC, I planned on using my Uber app to navigate the city – until my Uber app decided to fatally stop working for the entire trip. And guess what: I’m SOLO. Jumping out and hailing a cab *aggressively* is super intimidating to me — but by day 4, I finally got the hang of it and picked up a new New Yorker skill. How about that for learning new things?
How to do it:
Your notebook and pen are your best friends: I always buy some type of cliche touristy notebook whenever I get to my destination. Following it up with writing down exactly where I go that day, who I meet, where I ate, what I ordered, any ideas I have for the business, etc. I also take this time to do prayer time in my journal! It’s a great way to keep things organized and remember your favorite spots for the next time you’re in the location. Plus, it allows you to reminisce about all the sappy memories you had with … yourself later.
Don’t let your smartphone steal your glory: The real world around you has just as much inspiration as the smartphone – if not more. Something as simple as silence, or simply being still can do wonders for the soul. Plus, there’s no partner there talking your ear off. Have at it with quiet time, my darling.
Make sure you know someone as a contact: Safety first, peeps. Seriously – we always have made sure that I have a contact in the city in case *anything* happens and I need to call for backup. As a young 20-something, it’s important I’m aware of my surroundings and also connected with someone who could help if I’m in need.
Research before: Be adventurous, map things out, chase after your dreams, yada yada, use those notorious google maps apps. Seriously – planning stops in advance cures any pains of loneliness when you have things and activities planned to do in advance.
Don’t go out – stay in: To avoid getting myself in any dangerous situations – I’m a fan of the ultimate girls night IN. Bring along travel-sized bubble baths, face sheet masques, grab the hotel robe and call it a day. I love finding a movie on TV or grabbing my laptop for Netflix. Plus – going to sleep early allows for early wake ups and longer days to explore.
Have you guys ever traveled alone? What’s your favorite part?
Featured image source ; Flickr via Pinterest