I feel guilty. Yes, I do. Not that I’ve done anything wrong, but I have these thoughts sometimes. You see, I’m a traveler at heart. I grew up traveling with my family, and as a young adult female, I continued as a solo traveler. It was scary, yet empowering and I learned so much during those experiences.
Now that I’m married to an awesome travel partner, I no longer need to be a solo traveler. And while it’s wonderful to have a partner, sometimes I find myself reminiscing about my former days going it solo. It’s not that I want to travel without Josh, but there are some aspects about solo travel that I sometimes miss. So here they are, my guilty feelings about the things I miss about being a solo traveler.
It’s My Agenda, I’ll Change It If I Want To
Sounds selfish right? I hate that it sounds selfish, because I don’t feel selfish. It’s more about the freedom. The freedom to do what I want, when I want. The ability to change up my plans on the fly, or perhaps just decide that I want to cancel my plans all together. What if I’m sick of sightseeing in Paris and I just want to nap in a park under the Eiffel Tower (yeah, that’s happened).
Or if I decide to splurge and spend 4 times my daily budget so I can run off a mountain in Switzerland with a parachute (and a stranger) strapped to my back? It’s kind of nice being able to call the shots without having to worry about anyone else. Is that really so wrong?
Soul Searching As Much As I Want
Soul searching is important. And I think that’s part of why so many people are stressed out in society, because they don’t get enough time for solitude. They run around trying to please everyone else, or build their career, pretending like they have it all together, but inside they are completely torn up and confused! Traveling solo gives you a perfect opportunity to get far away from everything so that you can decide for yourself what you want out of life.
It’s not just about relaxing or going on an adventure, but more about the opportunity to reconnect with yourself. I remember having a profound moment while sitting by myself along the banks of the Rhine River in Germany, watching the sun slowly set. I sat there for hours, even into the darkness. The time spent alone on that riverbank allowed me to reflect on my life and make some serious decisions. Not only was I inspired in that moment, but I had many other similar moments during that trip; and I returned home feeling totally rejuvenated and with a whole new outlook on my life!
I Did It All By Myself!
Well, my parents were never pleased with me deciding to travel solo internationally, especially as a solo female traveler. So over the years I hope I’ve proven (to both them and myself) that I’m not completely irresponsible, nor have I ever ended up in a foreign jail (although I’ve stood witness to others not as fortunate). I must admit, that there is a sense of pride the fills me when I think about all the places I’ve explored on my own.
The fact that I navigated my way through numerous countries, and dealt with language barriers successfully, has helped to boost my confidence in myself. It has also has provided me opportunities to solve problems that I would never encounter at home; such as how to order a sandwich or coffee in Italy (it’s not self-explanatory), or how to use a Japanese toilet (overwhelming!). Traveling solo has also allowed my to become even better at solving problems on my feet — a skill that everyone needs!
Pushing My Limits To Grow As a Person
By nature, I’m an introverted person, being outgoing just doesn’t come naturally to me. And I have found over the years that if I’m with people that I’m comfortable around, I tend to revert to my introversion. However, I realized when I was young that my life would be pretty boring if I was a total introvert, and certainly my career would suffer! So I made a conscious decision to take a proactive approach in my life, by putting myself into situations where I’m forced to act more extroverted. Even though can be a bit of a struggle, I know it’s best for me.
When I traveled solo, it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I would strike up conversations with strangers just so that I could talk to another person (it gets old talking to yourself)! I have also gone out to dinner with people I barely knew so that I wouldn’t have to eat alone, and I’ve become even more open to asking other people for help when I need it. Over the years, being a solo traveler has provided me the opportunity to create some wonderful memories and meet some really great people. These experiences have also spilled over into my life at home because it taught me to be more outgoing on a daily basis.
It’s YOUR Experience, No One Else’s
When you travel solo, there is no one else telling you what to think. No one else to impact your opinion or affect your experience, it’s solely yours. It’s about discovering a place for yourself, the experience and the memories are completely of your own making.
People have asked me many times if I was lonely or bored while traveling solo, and they are surprised when I tell them “no.” People make solo travel out to be so scary, but I think the scariest part is just deciding to do it. Once you’ve done it, you will really feel like you can conquer anything; and perhaps that’s what I miss the most. Call me “miss independent,” but I love knowing that I’m strong enough to handle anything myself.
One solo trip that stands out to me is the time I traveled to Hong Kong by myself. Being the Disney fan that I am, I had to visit Hong Kong Disneyland. I remember being in line for their Jungle Cruise (which is awesome by the way), and the cast member asked me how many were in my party. I said “one” and she looked at me strange. “You are by yourself?” she asked me with a very confused look on her face. “Yes,” I told her confidently, “and I’m having a blast.”