One of my favorite qualities about myself ― yes, I actually have a couple ― is the fact that I can travel, very comfortably and happily, alone. It was after a breakup several years ago that I decided to sublet my apartment and jet off to Paris. I had never been to Europe before and had never traveled alone, but the pain I felt was so intense that being anywhere in the world besides my home was all that made sense. Even when my heart fell back into place again, I continued to travel alone ― and oh, the places I’ve been.
I think it takes a special brand of woman to pack up and go off into the world without anyone else. It takes a perfect combination of fearlessness and gumption, and it’s definitely not something you find in everyone. But for those of us who do think traveling alone is the only way to roll, here’s what we know to be true.
1. You discover your inner independence.
If you’ve never considered yourself to be an independent person, all you need is your first day on trip alone to realize that you’ve got this. You find in yourself the freedom that comes with being able to roll with the punches, adapt to new experiences, and do it in a way where you have zero attachments to anyone or anything. It’s liberating.
2. You make way more friends because you’re forced to talk to strangers.
It’s been in my travels alone that I have met so many amazing people. When I’m lost or confused, I have to rely on the help of strangers, and because of that I’ve met fellow solo travelers and people who share that love of escaping the everyday and doing so by themselves.
3. Men flock to us, because we’re solo and have that hot foreign accent.
True story: Our wonky American accent is actually hot to foreigners. I know! It’s such a weird concept, but it’s true! When you’re alone you’re much more approachable, which means having a fling while you’re in France or Spain, or wherever else you go in the world, is so easy. Of course, all this attention also means you need to be wary of the occasional douchebag, but the same can be said for when you’re home, too.
4. You get to understand different cultures on your own terms.
When you travel with friends, you’re forced to compromise on schedules and itineraries. It’s no fun. But when you’re alone, you get to discover things how and when you want. You’re not trapped in that group mentality and because of it you get a greater insight into the world.
5. It matures you like whoa.
Having to figure stuff out and having only yourself to rely on, really makes you grow up. It forces to you become self-reliant and realize what’s petty and what’s not. You also learn the importance of responsibility and admitting when you effed up.
6. You realize the world isn’t a scary place after all.
Of all the places I’ve been to in the world, the scariest of all was Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2009 at 4am. I’ve never once felt scared or threatened in any foreign country.
7. You get to know yourself in ways you never imagined.
Alone time is good for the soul and the brain. You not only learn how to be self-reliant, but you learn how you deal under pressure, when you’re lost, or when you’re feeling a tiny bit homesick, which of course, is always a possibility. When you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, is when you really get to experience your true self.
8. You finally learn to put everything you need in one bag.
I used to over pack like it was nobody’s business, with the thinking of, “Well, maybe I’ll need this gown and heels,” but those days are long gone. I now know that I can bring just the minimum because — breaking news ― there are laundromats all over the world! Also, I’m not really sure where one would wear a ball gown in Budapest.