The Art of Traveling Alone
Every day I hear it. “Weren’t you scared?” “Weren’t you bored doing everything alone?” “I just don’t know how you can do all this traveling by yourself.”
The standard thought that comes to mind, is that I have no idea how people can take these long vacations with other people and still come out sane on the other side.
I’m not ant-social. I mean, people are cool. And I have friends, wonderful friends! But there are maybe three people in my life that I can stand to travel with. Tell me I’m not alone here…
I’ve crisscrossed the country, gone from Mexico to Canada, Niagara Falls to D.C. then back to Chicago all on my own. I’ve even made it a goal in life to support women’s journey in doing the same.
There is a type of spiritual journey (call it what you will) that happens when we set out on our own. It’s a chance for real introspection; a chance to get to know ourselves and welcome our own company for a while. Whether it’s a quick weekend road trip or a full-on European excursion, any amount of time exploring new places and meeting new people opens our world up for the better.
Plus, for the control freaks among us, major perks here! You can chose where you want to eat… for every meal! You can pick your hotel, or sleep in your car, crash at an old friend’s place without the awkwardness of dragging a new stranger along. If you’re tired, you don’t have to feel obligated to do anything, and likewise when you’re amped you can go all day at whatever pace you want.
So, here are some random things I’ve figured out along the way…
1. If it feels sketchy, don’t do it. Simple. There’s adventurous and there’s stupid. Time and experience will help you figure out which one’s which. But in the meantime, if it scares you (and not in that good way) back off and find a safer way.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Just because you’re on this journey by yourself doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Talk to the locals! Even if it’s just your waitress at the café. It’s a great way to get a feel for a new place, and for the extroverts among us get some healthy facetime.
3. Don’t be worried when you start to talk to yourself. It’s healthy I swear! Have a good long conversation with yourself, about life, love, that asshole that dumped you in the seventh grade. Whatever! Just get it out.
4. Pack light. One of the best parts about traveling on your own is the flexibility it grants you. Pack light and let the journey take you where it may. Besides, if you’re on your own, you are the one carrying everything you pack.
5. Take pictures! I know since the invention of the selfie stick this one probably doesn’t need to be said. But don’t be afraid to set the timer and put yourself in the picture. Remember how you felt that day. Capture those moments of fun and adventure. There’s no one else to remember them, so put them in your heart… and on film. (For those born after 1995 pictures used to be saved on actual… you know what nevermind)
6. Get out there! Don’t let not having a buddy stop you. You can do this! Just get out there.