With so much to explore across the world, we have many opportunities through study abroad, personal travel, or internships. I myself had an internship this past summer in Athens, Greece, but unlike most college students, especially my friends, I did most of my traveling alone.
When you go abroad through a school program or travel with a bunch of friends, you might not be alone often. But if you’re like me and you have an internship, there’s a good chance you won’t be meeting as many people as you would in a program. Or maybe you plan to go abroad alone because you want to travel the world solo or because you couldn’t find a friend willing to dish out the money to come with you.
It can be pretty common to see friends travel abroad with others, whether it’s with friends they knew beforehand or friends they made abroad. And while traveling with friends can be really fun, there is something special and incomparable about traveling alone.
Traveling alone forces you to be independent and rely on yourself. Everything falls on you, so if something goes wrong, you’re the only one who can fix things. You alone have to possess the internal strength to fight through any obstacles. If you want to do something amazing, like scuba diving on a Greek island, you’re the one who will have to make the plans and follow through on them, knowing that you will be alone the entire time. Not to say you won’t make friends at the diving center (which I surely did!), but even so, you’ll still be on your own, experiencing all the joys and making all the necessary decisions as an individual instead of with family or friends.
You’ll need to possess a confidence not found in the comforts of living or being alone back home. Exploring new uncharted territory might make you yearn for someone to lean on, but that is not always a choice in life, and traveling alone forces you to build that skill.
There is also an amazing feeling to traveling alone. A little bit of discomfort, but a good kind of discomfort from being alone in a place you’ve never been before. You’re the one who is going to do the exploring and choose how to do that exploring. Everything you want to do is in your hands. You do not have to agree with someone else before choosing your travel plans. You understand that while you can’t know what’s next, no one but you will be able to walk you through it.
There is a beauty to experiencing all the breathtaking joys alone when traveling: whether it be seeing a beautiful landscape, or discovering a turtle underwater for the first time, or even trying a country’s food in its homeland. You suddenly realize how amazing and blessed you are to have been given this gift. You may wish you could share the wonder of your experiences with those you love, but because you can’t, it makes you appreciate those moments and life all the more.
Images courtesy of Sophia Christos