Since I the age of 14 I began traveling by myself, which of course left my parents feeling extremely anxious while I felt freer than ever! I would get on the plane, and head to debate camp for two weeks in different parts of the country. I relished the freedom to discover a new town, make new friends, and be in unfamiliar surroundings.
15 years later I’m doing the same thing! For two weeks or more out of every year I treat myself to a much needed adventure abroad. I know people wonder why I travel by myself, and some people even fear the thought of it. But I love it! There is nothing like the moment when you know you are all alone in a foreign land where you may or may not speak the language, that excites me. Every day there is new discovery to be made, and every day is filled with spontaneity.
Dining, walking, and exploring alone are such treats. There’s nothing I love more than eating a long meal alone. I sometimes pick the most romantic restaurant to relish the food in solitude, and to observe happy couples. Travel tip: dining alone is the surest way to get special treatment!
Traveling long distances gives me the opportunity to think, reflect, and learn more about myself. I can get stuck in certain bad habits of thinking when I’m at home busy running companies. The chance to be alone means in a foreign places means that I cannot take comfort in known habits, I have to discover new ways of managing myself and my mind. It also forces you to live! You have a few weeks or days to see a place, which means you’re out having experiences rather than sitting around on dwelling in endless and needless self talk.
The other reason I love solo travel is because it reinvigorates me. In my day-to-day life and career, I spend my time thinking creatively, being outgoing, and motivating others. This can become draining. Travel exposes me to new experiences and perspectives. Even just the element of taking a break from being surrounded by like minded people and behaviors helps me to think creatively when I’m back home.
I know there are many women out there who are lucky enough to have a partner or friend who is wiling to share in their adventures. Sharing is wonderful. I unfortunately, have yet to find such a person. Until then I take comfort in knowing that I do not have to cajole someone to go surfing with me, hiking 10 miles, or eating a plate of octopi! I can wake up each day and do the things I want.
Sure there are moments I get a little lonesome, but I’m pretty good at making friends. For those that are shy, all that it takes is a smile and a simple hello. I realize that as a petite girl I am the least threatening person one could come across. Of course that means you need to know your boundaries and have some level on intuition when gauging a situation and people. But fear can hold you back from meeting some amazing people and sharing experiences with them.
For all those who are wary of traveling by themselves, or come up with excuses like “I cannot afford a trip” try this simple exercise: pick one place that you would love to visit but you know no one would come with you or have time to visit. Book your ticket, a place to stay, and then don’t look back. Give yourself the present of being truly alone in a new place, and see what good and bad comes of it.