The chance to meet new people
Every time I travel alone, I end up in conversations with the most interesting people that I may not have had the chance to meet had I been traveling with someone. When I was on a local bus in Dublin, I asked the woman next to me (in her 80s) which church we were passing. We talked about her favorite city and my home, New York, and at the next stop she asked if she could take me out for tea and the best scones in Dublin. In a little cafe on a cobblestone side street, two hours went by. We had so much in common and she shared some of her 80 years of wisdom with me. In Paris I met a girl at dinner who was also traveling alone. We talked all throughout our meal, and instead of taking the 40 minute train ride back to my air bnb alone, I had a buddy to ride a bike back with. Barely two minutes into our commute, the sky opened and down poured on us. We pedaled fast in the crazy storm through winding Parisian streets almost knocking down irritated locals and laughing the whole way.
You can be totally selfish
Imagine waking up in the morning and the entire day is yours from start to finish. You can walk to the museums, have some jamon e queso, read a book in the park, have a picnic or ride your bike through the city. Flirt with a stranger in a cafe, hike a gorgeous trail, sit with your feet up staring into nature and write that book you’ve always wanted to. Did I mention the beauty of solitude and just taking a time out from your hectic life? It’s the chance to choose anything and everything that YOU want to experience. I LOVE history. But I know if I was with anyone but myself, I would not have been able to spend 3 hours in Westminster Abby, standing in awe in front of Chaucer’s grave, or take 20 minutes to stare at a hand written page of lyrics by John Lennon at the British Library. These things mean so much to me and I don’t want them to be rushed by people who aren’t interested.
Find your inner warrior
I am the 5th out of 6 children so I always sat in the backseat, literally and metaphorically. I had two parents and four older siblings so everything was always taken care of whether it be directions or logistics of a trip. Traveling alone at 21 and having to figure out how to get everywhere in a country where I didn’t speak the language made me realize how smart and capable I actually was. Wow! Look at that, I don’t need my big sis to tell me which train to take, I have to actually read the signs and I get it! On one of my not meant to be solo journeys, I had bags in hand at “arrivals” in an international airport, and was completely stood up by the person I was supposed to meet for the week long trip. That’s another long story. I gathered myself mentally and physically, took a 3 hour trek to my airbnb in the rain and could have lost my mind. But instead, I booked tours all over the country and it ended up being one of the most life changing experiences and best trips of my life!
So far I’ve traveled solo to Italy, Ireland, England, France, Montreal and California and I still plan on having many more adventures. There is something about going to a new place, soaking it in and experiencing it on your terms that makes you more independent, more enriched and just plain happy. There’s so much room for self-discovery and understanding what truly makes YOU happy when you strip everything away and focus on your wants and needs. People ask me if I ever get bored spending time alone on my trips. There’s no way you can become bored when you have the world to explore. I savor every painting, every book every bite. You are brave enough!! Now, where would you go? Let me know in the comments!