Traveling alone can be an amazing experience, but it’s a leap that many people are afraid to take. Sure, traveling with family and friends is great too for the laughs and memories you can create together, but there’s something extraordinary about setting off by yourself and not knowing what lies ahead or who you’ll meet that day. The confidence and independence you gain will change your life.
Traveling alone allows you to meet locals and make friends with people who you would’ve never met otherwise. There are plenty of group trips for solo travelers if you’re a little shy, or you can put yourself out there and meet people naturally! Lots of people stay in Hostels, especially when traveling around Europe. This is a great way to meet people since there are often shared living spaces- it’s cost-friendly too!
Solo travel can help you learn more about yourself and your problem-solving skills. Lots of the experiences you have when traveling solo make you think “if I can do this, I can do anything!” There’s nothing like running through the airport to catch your next flight, or standing in the middle of a foreign city where no one around you speaks English. These are the kind of memories you’ll create that will help you with problem-solving and learning that sometimes, you just have to wing it!
In my personal experience, traveling solo helped me to become more flexible and confident. When traveling to Warsaw, Poland, this summer, I got to the airport and was told I didn’t have a seat on the flight I was scheduled for! After a slight panic, I had to haul my heavy luggage across the airport to fly with a different airline. This led to a 1-hour layover in Lisbon, Portugal, where I barely made the last boarding call for my flight into Warsaw. Having this experience before my trip even started was crazy, but allowed me to realize that if I could handle that I could handle whatever other obstacles were thrown my way. During the trip and life!
Another obstacle I faced when in Poland was dealing with a late check-in disaster at a local inn I had planned to stay in. I had been out with friends and didn’t arrive at the Inn until around 11:45 pm- the lobby and front doors closed at 11 pm. I tried calling the number on the door but no answer, I was locked out of the Inn with no key or access code since I hadn’t checked in yet. Here I am, panicking yet again, as it’s midnight in Warsaw and I’m wandering around with my luggage and no place to stay. I eventually booked a hotel a few miles away and everything worked out, but that moment of anxiety taught me how important it is to breathe through those kinds of situations and not panic!
Don’t get me wrong, I had some amazing, culturally enriching experiences on that trip to Poland too! I was able to mentor Polish children learning to speak English, meet locals, try all kinds of delicious food, and create once-in-a-lifetime memories with people I’ll never forget. The best part is I was able to do it all by myself! Being able to look back on that and think of how proud of myself I am for taking the risk of traveling alone and being able to deal with the obstacles is amazing. It’s something I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience!