When I first proposed the idea of traveling alone to my Mom – she thought I was absolutely insane. “Traveling alone?!” she said, “but what will you do by yourself?”
I feel as though many of you had similar reactions when watching my stories & posts last weekend when I told you that I was planning a road trip by myself to Santa Fe.
The way I see it is this: if you want to go somewhere, GO! There’s something I’ve learned in recent years, and it’s that you don’t need to wait for someone else to make plans. I’ve always been a go-getter kind of person, which is why I have never felt uncomfortable with the idea of getting after something I want, so for me, this mentality only made sense.
The first thing to tackle when traveling alone is deciding on a place that you really want to visit. For me, my first solo trip was taking a bus to southern Spain to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go with a tour group to Morocco in Northern Africa. I knew I wanted to go, and I didn’t want to wait to get a friend on board to going, so I booked it myself and went for it. This was my first solo trip, but in all honesty it really wasn’t solo because I was with a tour group and definitely had a security blanket. My second solo trip was when I was living in Charlotte for work. I really wanted to visit Charleston, so instead of waiting for someone else to go with me, I booked a hotel and got on the road! Before my Charleston trip, I definitely had to prepare myself mentally and make sure I went into it with the right expectation. It’s important to be realistic about the fact that you won’t have anyone to rely on. This was my first trip where I truly traveled alone and from that point on, I’ve loved it!
So now, the good stuff, why do I love traveling alone?
Let me start by saying, the thought of eating alone in a restaurant initially intimidated me. In high school, there was absolutely no way I’d eat alone at a restaurant. In college, I gradually became okay with grabbing a bite to eat on campus, but I always felt more comfortable with a group of friends. Now, I am totally okay with it, especially when traveling. This is because I’ve discovered the beauty of complete and utter freedom – you want to eat dinner at 3pm? Sure! You want to get dessert and then get dinner? Yeah, why not!? You want to, like me, get the green chile enchilada and the red chile enchilada? Go for it! No judgment zone here.
When you’re completely on your own agenda, you don't need to wait for other people to feel hungry or be restricted by someone else’s dietary needs. You are completely free to choose when, what, and where you want to eat. AH, FREEDOM! (And trust me, food is a v important part of visiting a new city!)
With that, there’s also complete freedom to do whatever you want, and you have flexibility to change your agenda. When I arrived in Santa Fe on Saturday, I initially planned to go directly to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, but upon arrival I saw there was a festival going on in the Plaza. Since I was traveling alone, there was no one to answer to or negotiate with in regard to plans, so it was a quick and easy decision: festival now, museum tomorrow! This is a major perk of traveling alone because being on your own agenda is so freeing.
Traveling alone also gives you time for personal reflection and “me-time”. I really noticed this in Santa Fe while I was sightseeing at some of the churches. I noticed that since I was alone, I paid more attention to the beauty of what I was seeing and appreciated the little things around me – the sun hitting my back, birds chirping, sitting back and people watching - things I may not have paid attention to if I was traveling with a friend or in a group.
I never go into traveling with the expectation of making a friend, but one huge perk of traveling alone is that there is a chance that you might! It only makes sense that traveling alone makes you more approachable - this may or may not have to do with the self-confidence and free-spirited vibe you’re giving off 😉. It is likely that you’ll have the opportunity to chat with someone at a bar or restaurant that might not have approached you if you were with a group or friend. This is something I’ve really enjoyed when traveling. It’s awesome to learn about why other people are here - are they a local? Are they also traveling? The city itself is something you already have in common, so the conversation is bound to flow naturally. In many cases those connections have made such a difference in my trip - especially when meeting a local with inside tips for what to see and do!
All in all, traveling alone gives you the ultimate “me-time,” not to mention it makes you feel like you can do anything. I’m not going to lie, traveling alone isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but it does show you who you are, what you’re capable of, and gives you an opportunity to be authentically YOU. I find that traveling by myself gives me a sense of self-confidence and when I get home I always feel on top of the world.