In 2013, at age 21, I spent a summer in Lyon, France. I went alone.
That summer, there were so many things I didn’t experience, because I didn’t want to go out by myself. I felt like if I didn’t travel with someone, those experiences may as well not have happened.
Thankfully, after a few weeks, I made friends and really started to take advantage of being in France. But I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start exploring Lyon.
It’s easy to feel this way as an extrovert, though.
When I moved to New Zealand at the end of 2014, I got better at being alone. I had friends, but they weren’t always available to explore with me. I got more confident about doing things by myself.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it isn’t safe to travel alone. Especially as a woman. But I’m talking about doing simple things by yourself, such as eating at a restaurant, going on a hike, or lying out on the beach.
I still prefer to travel with others, which is one reason being married to a fellow traveler is pretty baller. But I’ve started to learn the value of experiencing a new place solo.
Here are some reasons we should travel alone.
More blog posts about self care:
To Learn How to Be Alone
For extroverts like me, I think it’s important to learn how to be alone.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert. It’s totally fine that we gain our energy from being around others. However, we shouldn’t rely on other people to be happy. Other people don’t define us or our experiences.
Traveling alone taught me how to be alone.
To Stop Holding Back
When I was in France, there were so many things I didn’t do because I didn’t have anyone to do them with. I was too insecure to venture out on my own.
Finally, I visited a friend in Germany for a week. I had expressed interest in visiting Prague, so she helped me make it happen. She had to work and couldn’t go with me, but she stuck me on a bus to spend one day in Prague. Alone.
If I had relied on someone else to go with me, I never would have seen the Charles Bridge, the Petrin Lookout Tower, or the Franz Kafka Museum.
This week, I moved to a new city where I don’t know anyone. It will take a while to make friends, but I still want to explore the city. I don’t want to hold back.
To Take Control
Traveling alone has taught me to be self-reliant. Granted, I usually learn how to be self-reliant by making horrible mistakes and learning from them. For example, missing my bus from Berlin to Dresden.
But then I learned. And now I’m more confident.
There’s something powerful, especially as a woman, about completely taking control of your own life. Sometimes I forget that feeling, because I’m married to a man who is a fellow traveler, and he happens to be great with directions and thinking on his feet. It’s easy to rely on him. But it’s important to remember that I am completely capable of taking care of myself.
To Make New Friends
If you stay in a hostel when you travel, you can easily meet new people who will explore the city with you.
Meeting people is one of the best parts of traveling, especially if they’re from different parts of the world.
When we travel with friends or sig-oths, it’s easy to stay in our bubbles and just stick with the people we know. Actually, that’s fine, if your goal is to spend time with the people you love. But if you want to branch out, traveling alone can be a great way to do so.