As I prepare to head back to France for another year of TAPIF, I find myself bombarded with questions from friends and family. “Why would you travel by yourself? Why do you live in France if you don’t know anyone? How do you do it alone?” These are the same questions I was asked last year and I’m sure I will keep getting asked as I travel in the future. Though I get tired of answering, it has really gotten me to start thinking about my reasons. Why do I do it?
“Why would you travel by yourself? Why do you live in France if you don’t know anyone? How do you do it alone? Aren’t you afraid?”
Last year, when I started my journey to France, I was horribly nervous and afraid that I was incapable of traveling alone. I thought something would go wrong or that I would waste my time abroad by being too anxious to explore on my own. This was not the case for me. Many times I found other assistants itching to go to the same places as me, but not always, so I went anyways. For the Christmas holiday I planned my break as a solo trip, my first, in central Europe starting in Prague and ending in Budapest, though I planned to possibly meet up with some other assistants along the way.
After reflecting on my solo travels I came up with some reasons you should definitely NOT travel solo.
- You might have to go out of your comfort zone. Traveling solo can be hard. As someone who deals with anxiety, it is exacerbated in unfamiliar territory such as living and traveling abroad. Should I ask someone to take my picture?t is awkward if I’m eating alone? These are a few things I’m still working on but how do we grow if we aren’t challenged?
- Maybe you’ll try something new…and like it. Speaking of eating, I’ve noticed I’m more open to trying new foods. Now I’ll try pretty much anything, even if I don’t want to eat it again…There’s so many opportunities for trying new things when traveling!
- You may take the trip of a lifetime. Honestly, there has got to be at least one place you’re dying to go to in your lifetime and if you have to sit around waiting for someone else to go with you, you may never make it.
- There are too many memories to be made. Ugh who wants to make more memories and have more stories to tell?
- It’s possible you WON’T miss your old lifestyle. In the last year I’ve joined a Facebook group called Girls Love Travel. Everyday there is at least one story of a woman who was/is living an unfulfilling life (tied to a desk, stuck in a rut, going through the motions in a bad relationship, etc.) who decided to up and travel. It’s not feasible for everyone, but some of these women plan a two-week vacay but stay much longer and that’s not a bad way to live.
- You may meet new people from around the world yuck. Australians? Hard to understand and a little bit crazy in the best ways. That one Spanish man who wants visit America to propose to your friend. The crazy girl yelling outside of your hostel room. The super cool, trendy girl you met in a hostel who you are super inspired by. The old french woman complaining about the weather at the bus stop. Meet, chat, and connect with people!
- You could fall in love. Maybe you’ll fall in love with a man or woman. Maybe you’ll fall in love with a city. Maybe you’ll fall in love with getting pastries from a hole in the wall bakery or beer that’s cheaper than water. Love is love is love.
- You may experience new cultures and ways of life. Culture shock is real and it can be hard when traveling, especially for longer periods of time. But, you may also have an Eat, Pray, Love experience that could change how you live your life. Or you come to appreciate daily fresh baguette hahaha
- You might become I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T. I generally define myself as independent. I want to do things on my own and for myself #NoHelpNeeded, but traveling solo was a whole newfound independence to embrace.
- Sometimes you might start learning a new language. wow, using something other than english?!?! Ciao, eichhörnchen (squirrel), pas de soucis (no worries)
- You’ll plan an itinerary without having to think about someone else. Where does Emily want to go? How much does Jake thing the budget should be? Doesn’t matter. You do you. (P.S: this is good and bad for us indecisive types)
- You may be seen as flexible. Flexibility is not weakness. In fact, I feel that rolling with the punches can be a real strength. Again, something I’m working on which can make traveling with some people difficult. I guess I’ll go solo!
- You CAN catch the travel bug. It’s real. You’ll add 7360423 places to your travel bucket list and will start planning your next trip as soon as you get home. You’ll be annoying talking about your adventures and encouraging friends to travel.
- It may make you more employable in the future. Maybe you studied abroad. Maybe you interned. Maybe it won’t have a direct impact because your time abroad was not relevant to your field. Maybe you met someone who knows someone who needs someone like you working for them. Maybe your future employer is impressed by your travels or your proficient language skills.
- Maybe your perspective will shift. Living in one place can put you in a bubble. Getting out there and experiencing the world is the only way to gain an understanding of other places, people, and cultures.
- You may have to learn to be self-reliant. Traveling solo means you’re in charge but it also means you may be to blame. You’ve gotta learn to rely on yourself. But traveling solo can make you stronger so who better to rely on?
- You might learn things about yourself. Maybe you don’t buy into the the “travel to find yourself” mentality but I believe self-discovery is a huge part of travel, especially solo travel. Even if it’s little things you learn. But maybe you’re also discover more about your passions, your likes and dislikes, fears and deal-breakers, new hopes, goals and dreams. Ahhh scary!
What are some reasons you travel solo? Where are your favorite solo travel destinations? I’d love to know 😀