Traveling alone is the most rewarding and empowering experience. At first, I thought I would feel lonely and I would get lost and not know what to do, but I did not experience any discomforts. It did not take long for me to realize the joy of traveling alone, it took me about 10 minutes to realize that while walking from Euston Station to King’s Cross.
What have I learned from traveling alone?
The new found sense of freedom: I was not bound to anyone else’s preferences. I was able to do things at my own pace and do all the weird things I wanted to do. During my London trip, I spent three hours in the British Museum marveling at all the historic artifacts and learn about civilizations that I have never heard of before. When I travel alone I walk a lot because I think that walking is the best way to explore the city, to get the general “feel” of the city, and to see how the locals spend their day so, I walked everywhere. Although at the end of the day my legs got very sore and blisters appeared on my feet, it was worth it.
Not all who wander are lost: I often get carried away while walking because I would keep walking toward the buildings or shops that I was curious about. I would often find myself very far away from my original destination but I was not lost, I was exploring.
Notice the things happening around you: There are so many things happening around us that we usually would not notice when we are traveling with others because we would be completely engaged with our company. When you sit alone at a cafe or restaurant you would be able to see the interaction between people e.g. the friendly waiter talking to his customer, a mother teaching her child, etc. Although it would seem like you are eavesdropping but who would know right?
I am my best friend: Traveling alone helped me to become better friends with myself. My brain had to figure out ways to keep me entertained in the unfamiliar environment and create curiosity to learn and explore.
Useful tips for traveling alone:
- Be prepared: research about the places you want to visit, understand the transportation systems, and know the amount of time you would want to spend at each location.
- Know your body: be aware of the amount of physical activity that you are capable of (solo travel can involve a lot of walking) and stay hydrated.
- Wear appropriate footwear: wear something that is comfortable and durable.
- Learn to read maps and bring actual maps: be prepared for the unfortunate event that your mobile phone malfunctions or runs out of battery and you are unable to use Google maps.
- Use the selfie stick: sometimes using the selfie stick can be a bit awkward but it will be your best friend especially if you are too shy or scared to ask strangers to take photos of you.
Although I did not travel to another country, traveling alone to a different place was a significant step out of my comfort zone. If you are a scared and anxious introvert like me and you want to travel alone, you can start with small steps, travel to a city/town near you for a day trip and then gradually extend your trips. There is no need to make your first solo trip to a foreign country. Due to my anxiety, I was worried that I would get lost and I decided to have my first solo travel to London, a city that I have already visited just to be safe and also because there are so many things that I did not get to see and do on my previous trip. Traveling is an activity that pushes you out of your comfort zone but it can also happen at your own pace.
For a person who is scared and anxious about everything, I have never thought that I would have the courage and confidence to travel on my own but I could not wait to get to the places I want and so I took the first step. Traveling alone has given me confidence and boosted my self-esteem. Like any other out-of-comfort-zone experience, traveling alone has helped me to realize my capability and potential. More importantly, it has reignited my self-belief.
For me, traveling alone is pure happiness. It is when I can truly be myself.