For my 23rd birthday, I wanted to do something exciting and memorable, so I took off on a spontaneous trip to Montréal…by myself.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve solo traveled. When I was 16, I studied Spanish in Barcelona (and had to sleep in the airport twice because of flight cancellations). When I was 20, I spent my birthday alone at Disneyland Paris (free admission baby!). I’ve been to London three times, and every time, I’ve gone…alone.
Solo travel is something I have always highly recommended, and yet something I always hear friends, family, and people I meet giving excuses about. They “can’t” go on a trip because of this, this, and that.
“I won’t be safe”
WHAT I SAY TO THAT: We’ve all heard that being a female solo traveler is an absolute no-no, but I only consider it a complete no-no if you’re seriously lacking in the street smarts department. As long as you don’t make it obvious that you’re an obnoxious tourist, you’re fine 90% of the time. There are a million females riding the New York City subways alone, just like there are a million females riding the Paris subway alone. Blend in, don’t wear super-American clothing like high school hoodies, don’t look vulnerable, and just don’t come back home at 3am alone.
“I’ll get lonely”
WHAT I SAY TO THAT: Solo travel of course can get lonely, but that’s exactly what we recommend it.
When you have no one else to converse with, you finally start listening to yourself, and by that I mean, your inner voice (and no, not in a schizophrenic way). You start self-reflecting. Are you where you want to be in your career? In your love life? Are you friends really friends? Are you happy? No, like, are you actually happy? Not just comfortable happy, but happy happy.
Traveling alone allows you time to get your life on track. It’s what many people need and what few people do, which is why our Facebook feeds are filled with people caring about what Sarah said about Emily. It’s why people are still with their boyfriends/girlfriends that they argue with everyday or why they’re in a job they hate and complain about. They haven’t given themselves time to step back and think.
Go do something by yourself today.
“I’ll get bored”
WHAT I SAY TO THAT: Traveling alone is total freedom. You finally have the time to do whatever you want, whenever you want. If you’re hungry, you eat. You eat at a restaurant you choose and when you want. You do every thing you want and don’t have to report to anyone.
And just cuz your friends or family aren’t with you, doesn’t mean there aren’t people around you. Traveling alone is finally the perfect opportunity to meet new people and expand your international circle of friends. The next time you’re traveling alone, remind yourself that any new person you talk to could potentially be your next best friend. You never know!
“I won’t know how to do anything”
WHAT I SAY TO THAT: What? You absolutely will! Mainly because you’ll have to figure it out. If anyone ever learned anything, it was through doing it. How did you learn to ride a bike? By riding a bike. How do you learn how to take the subway in Tokyo? By taking the subway in Tokyo. And once you finally do something new in a city, you’ll be all, “Boo-yah, das right, I just navigated the Tokyo subway system BY MYSELF SUCKAS!”
If anything, traveling alone gives you a sense of empowerment. That you really can do anything. That you no longer have to rely on anyone.
That friends’ schedules not working out with yours is no longer a reason for you to not travel.