Travel is an incredible experience. To travel is to LIVE. And there are so many ways to do it; by plane, train, or automobile, by foot or bike pedals, maybe even by boat! You can travel with friends, with a significant other, maybe with family, or, my personal favorite, you can travel SOLO! (Although truthfully, I do prefer to have my dogs with me when possible) Here's my top five reasons why I enjoy travelling solo, and why I believe everyone should try it at least once in their lifetime!
1. The memories you make are all yours!
The company you keep when traveling and embracing new things can compound your experience in magnificent ways, or they can turn your experience sour and leave you with a bad memory. Maybe you took a trip with a significant other, only to break up a few months later. But that picture you took at the beach was so good, one of your favorite pictures of yourself, but now every time you see it, you can only think about the horrible breakup you went through in the months that followed. Maybe you and your best friends flew somewhere great for a little weekend getaway, but after a few too many drinks, there was a major disagreement and now none of you talk anymore, and every time you see that beautiful dress in your closet you get a little sad.
But maybe, just maybe, you went on a trip alone. That experience being solely yours. You are the main character of the story that only you can tell. Maybe you even got to know yourself a little bit better. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and family, and I love when my husband gets to come on trips with me. And like Chris McCandless once said, happiness is only real when shared. The memories you share with another person bring you closer and make your bond so much stronger, but in that same way, travelling solo makes your bond with yourself stronger, too. You learn to rely on yourself, you find out just how capable you truly are. And despite the wise words of McCandless, having a little bit of happiness all to yourself is incredibly liberating.
2. You don't have to waste time arguing about what to do and see... or where to eat.
It's nearly impossible to have 2 or more people who want to do all the same things. You wind up spending the trip entangled in the classic "Where should we eat?" "I don't care" conversation (Blackhawk and I go round and round with this far too often). But when it's just you, and you become responsible for making those decisions for yourself rather than
feeling like your decision will disappoint another person, it makes the trip that much more enjoyable. No time and energy wasted on trying to please anyone but yourself! If you want to stop and have a sandwich at the scenic viewpoint, do it! You are the only one in charge of your itinerary, you make the rules! On my trip from Nashville to Phoenix, I chose to take a longer route through Texas to see the Magnolia Market. Blackhawk would not have enjoyed this stop. And even better was that this route led me through Hico, Texas, where I discovered the best turkey sandwich I've ever had in my entire life, and some amazing candles at the mercantile. The four hour detour and multiple hours in stops was completely worth it!
3. You gain independence and self confidence.
Being alone with yourself can be daunting at first, but once you stop being scared of your own thoughts, it becomes an incredibly freeing experience. You learn so much about yourself, especially that you don't need anyone else to make you happy. You are responsible for your own happiness, at least for the duration of the trip, and that gives you an entirely new sense of independence that slowly translates into other aspects of your life, awarding you a new level of self confidence. As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it's inevitable that you will discover who you truly are. It will force you to find your own balance between playing it safe and seizing the day. You will learn from your mistakes along the way, too, and how to take responsibility for them because if something goes wrong on your trip there is no one else to blame but yourself. You'll learn that Google Maps has a tendency to change your route without you noticing, or that it's never worth it to stay at the sketchy, dirty motel just because it's a little bit cheaper than the Best Western. You'll learn how to take your safety, and peace of mind, into consideration at all times.
4. Traveling solo means getting to know the real you.
Being surrounded by adventure, by your own thoughts, by things pushing you out of your comfort zone, you will learn just who you are, who you've been, and you want to be. Things will become so clear. You'll come face to face with the things that have been off balance in your life, and you'll gain a new perspective on what matters most. You'll begin to see where you need stronger boundaries, and where you have walls that need to be torn down. And the best part is that you'll find a new friend in yourself, which means you will never be alone. I heard a quote once, I don't remember where or by who; it read, "Sometimes you think you want to disappear, but all you really want is to be found." It made me think, "so go find yourself." GO. RUN. Keep going until you find yourself. Because that is where you will find peace, bravery, and the purest version of happiness. The best adventure of all is finding yourself.
5. You don't have to wait.
To travel alone means you only need to worry about your own schedule and ability to make the time. If you wait for someone to go with you, you may end up waiting a lifetime. Think of your life as a movie. In one scene you're in the office talking about a trip you desperately want to take, then a time card flashes saying, "20 years later" and you're still sitting at that office desk looking at plane tickets you know you'll never buy because you and your friend can never get your schedules to line up. Don't wait. Don't miss out on something that could be great just because it might be difficult. The time will never feel exactly right, you'll probably never feel particularly "ready". But all the best things in life happen unexpectedly, and if you wait until you're ready, you'll be waiting for the rest of your life. (This applies to anything in life, not just travel) So let me ask you, what are you waiting for?