When I started my trip on September 1st, I had my a full backpack, plane ticket and my best friend from college traveling with me. We had lived together through out college and we knew that traveling together would be easy for the both of us. We trusted each other we had similar interests in where we wanted to go and what we felt like doing and we just knew how to have fun together. These are all important things to understand when choosing your travel partner.
However, after serval weeks of traveling to over ten major cities in Europe, we decided to go different ways. No hard feelings just wanted to do different things.
At first, the idea of traveling Europe sounded dangerous and lonely. But in no time at all, I found that I really love traveling by myself. In fact, I prefer it; and here is why:
1. Self Empowerment
Once I began traveling alone I found an amazing sense of self-empowerment. I am a very independent person but it was hard for me to understand what I could handle when under pressure or in a tight spot. Once I saw how easy it was for me to take control of all situations I was able to see my own capabilities. I am even a person who occasionally struggles with panic attacks, but even in a strange place with little knowledge of the language, I was able to just enjoy each experience as they came.
2. Decision Making
While traveling with a friend it is important to consult with your partner on what plans should be made. Making compromises with you companion is a necessary act to ensure the trip is fair and fun for both persons. Traveling solo, however, gives you the chance to take charge and make your own decisions. If you don’t feel like going out to the clubs you can stay in or take a quiet walk in the park or contrarily if you have the energy to spread you can go out as you please.
While some activities are cheaper with more than one person, it is also cheaper when flying solo. With my friend, I was going out every day and night for food. Ten euros here twenty dollars there, these things really add up. By myself, I was able to buy food at the near-by market and cook a small meal in the hostel’s kitchen.
4. Spending time with yourself
Often many people believe traveling with a partner is better for a number of reasons, such as– entertainment, safety and the shared moments. These are all valid reasons to travel with a friend, however, taking the time to yourself to travel and really experience life as it comes is such a rewarding adventure. In today’s world people don’t normally do things solo, going shopping, eating, watching a movie etc. and as a result, we have very little time to ourselves.
When traveling alone there are moments that you will have to figure things out on your own and while it can be temporarily stressed full it also shows us what we are made of. The world puts you to the test in different ways and you are obligated to solve the problem alone. With more time to self-reflect the world around you changes. You will find that you hear, see, and feel things that others, because of their faster pacing lives, don’t. There were many days that I went to a park or a cafe and sat with my camera, book, and journal and documented my thoughts, did some people-watching and truly lived in the moment.
5. Stretching your wings
Before leaving for Europe I had done a little traveling through my high school to London and Italy. Both trips were good but on a solo mission in Europe, my days weren’t planned out from morning to night. Even when people go on vacation trips every day is planned with a few hours of free time where you can walk around any place you like.
These types of packages also dictate how long you stay in each city which tends to only be a day or two depending on the type of package you pay for. There is so much more freedom as you travel without the fully packed schedule of a tour or cruise. Originally planning to stay in London for three days because of the expenses, I changed my travel plans because I met a group of amazing people who convinced me to a stay a week longer than I expected.
6.Meet more people
My travel partner and I met several really amazing people on our trip and we kept in touch through out our trip and after. However, once I went my own way in the trip I noticed that I was able to meet, even more, equally amazing people and made stronger connections because I was an independent traveler. I was put in positions where I had to rely on others more and to my surprise, they were more than happy to lend me a helping hand. This gave me an amazing experience of help from strangers and it was something that has changed my life.
While all people, men, and women alike, should be careful while traveling alone or in particular countries but it is an amazing experience that should not be avoided because of fear. You might be surprised how enlightening it is.