Travel for One, The Joy of Solo Travel.
Think about the last time you did something really big by yourself.
Coming from a hyper-connected world, it can be hard to think of a time when you were alone, and maybe even harder to think of a time you were alone for more than a few hours.
I went to Rome by myself (above) for a long weekend, and Pula, Croatia for a total of five days. During my time in Pula, I spoke an average of 200 words throughout those 120 hours. Not because of boredom with my surrounding or a lack of thoughts, but because I wanted to use those days as a sort of spiritual rest and revival.
While sitting on the rocky beaches of the Adriatic Sea, looking out onto the crystal clear water, it was much easier to get clarity and come to terms with the fact that my time in Europe was coming to a close. This was not the first time I had traveled alone, but definitely the most eye opening. As an introvert, it is easy for me to enjoy silence and rest in a shell for a few days on the coast of Croatia, but for others, this idea may seem awful, but I caution everyone to take at least a short trip by himself or herself because of the following reasons.
There is one main thing that occurs while traveling alone; something you cannot ignore no matter how you try: your interior monologue. From the second you get outside of your front door, the one thing which will chronicle your trip will be your inner thoughts. It will be those tiny freak outs you have internally while your cab driver whips in and out of lanes, those mini-spirtual revelations you have while staring at a church’s ceiling, your tastebuds’ praise, your hilarious people watching commentary and your eyelids’ pleas for sleep. The only thing that you can do, mentally, while traveling alone is get to know yourself. This type of discovery can be scary in the beginning, but do not resist! Allow your psyche to come forward and get to know him or her. He or she is probably a cool person since…y’know…it is you.
Time to Catch Up
Since the fear of the unknown plagues many of us, having an organized plan is generally on the top of most to-do lists. One of my favorite things that I was able to do while traveling alone was the fact that I was able to organize my thoughts, my ideas, and most importantly (for my grades at least), my work. Since many of us are studying abroad, it is important to always take time to get work done if you are traveling alone for an extended period of time. While in Pula, I had to read two French texts during the week that I was traveling. In an attempt to make myself do actual work while being surrounded by the beauty that is Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, I would go to the café that James Joyce worked at and read a pre-determined amount of chapters each day, and then rewarded myself with some ice ream and a trip to the beach. By being able to be productive while traveling, I felt that my trip was not only relaxing, but also efficient.
You Will See Much, Much More
You have heard the old adage, “if you travel alone, you will go faster; if you travel together, you will go farther”, but I would suggest that this is not necessarily true. Yes, it is true that when you travel alone, you will be able to see literally every single thing you want to see without being held back by your friend who is super into street art, when all you want to do is look at Van Goghs. And instead of just being able to look at these Van Goghs and then rushing off to try and find Banksy, you can sit in the museum and stare at them for as long as you want. You can read each painting’s descriptions. You can ask a docent to explain the history of each painting. After all of that, you can run back to your hostel and read about Van Gogh for the rest of the night, if you want to. While this type of travel is not for everyone, this is the introvert’s dream. Just writing about it makes me feel all tingly inside.
Write Your Own Narrative
As mentioned in the previous point, traveling solo allows you the freedom to do whatever you wish, whenever you want. When traveling with someone else you have to find time to travel when all of you are free, compromise on accommodation pricing (pro-tip: NEVER skimp on hostels in Marseilles…just take my word on this), and sometimes, you even have to compromise on where to go. When you travel alone, the only person you are negotiating with is yourself. You can go whenever and wherever you want, see whatever you want to see and eat whatever your heart desires. Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, your original thoughts about everything you experience will not be influenced by other people’s thoughts. Being able to create your own narrative while traveling is extremely important and something that is quite rare. Take advantage of this opportunity while you can.
Regardless of if you choose to travel alone for your next trip, or with a friend, remember to have fun and always take the time to reflect upon your travels once you get back to the comfort of your own home.