When I enthusiastically told my friends about my future travel plans, I received a fair amount of feedback regarding my decision not to invite anyone along. Some stated that I was incredibly brave and explained that they could never set off to a strange country without anyone to rely on. One person even suggested that I watch Taken—an offer that I respectfully declined.
I wasn’t sure why more people don’t take the leap to travel solo. In fact, I cannot fathom why anyone wouldn’t place themselves in a few uncomfortable situations to learn about themselves and the world around them. There is an inexplicable feeling associated with trusting yourself enough to navigate a brand-new place and succeeding.
Over the past two weekends, I learned about the rich history of the Czech Republic. I embraced my roots through the exciting culture in Spain, indulging in endless tapas and sangria. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. I strolled through the Prado, viewing artworks that had been on my bucket list for ages. I sorted out an absolutely ridiculous Ryanair itinerary, learned how to navigate the metro in Prague, and simply sat back and watched the world go by. Each and every one of these experiences were rooted in a conscious decision I made to travel solo, and I know I’ll continue to do it as often as possible.
After making several wrong turns and hopping on a few incorrect metro lines, I finally found my way to the Museo de Arte de Reina Sofia, reconnecting with my love for art and convincing me to delve further into exploring the subject. I spent hours wandering the museum, and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I was given time to find myself with no distractions, and I had the perfect opportunity to become lost in my thoughts. There’s something to be said about enjoying these experiences with friends or loved ones, but the constant compromise that comes with companionship doesn’t allow for a completely selfish experience abroad. Often, it’s necessary to set your own agenda and set out to experience what will benefit you the most.
When I decide to book my own flights at the last second, I’m forced to engage with people I would never cross paths with otherwise. I’m taught that people are fundamentally good, and locals are often willing to strike up a conversation. I’m able to follow my own itinerary and create experiences that I know I’ll appreciate for years to come. Solo travel shouldn’t be seen as so courageous when it’s clear that the benefits are profound. If someone has the resources to pack up and skip town without inviting anyone and without much of an agenda, they should do it without hesitation. Without thinking too much, book that flight and find a place to stay. It is a magical and unprecedented experience that everyone must have.