Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
Everybody loves traveling, right? I have never met anyone who said, oh, please, I don’t like traveling. It is usually on the top of everyone’s list. Or at least it should be.
I have always loved it, it makes my heart soar, it charges my batteries, it gives me a new perspective every time I take my bags and leave. It thrills me and excites me and I have to admit, it scares me — in a good way.
I started to travel on my own very recently and I can’t help comparing this exceptional experience with all the previous where I had travel companion(s) — my partner, friends, family, colleagues.
I am a “good traveler”, meaning that I value traveling and experiences more than to let myself be bothered by the nuisances. I enjoy it, I cherish it, I don’t complain. But not everyone has the same attitude and matching up with a companion who sees traveling differently, can make a trip a tough journey.
If you have the right mindset for it, traveling solo can be the best experience ever.
Here is why you should definitely try it:
Leaving the expectations behind
My whole life is a chain of expectations — both external and internal. Maybe even more of those that I create for myself. I have my schedule, I have my routine, I have my responsibilities.
I always expect myself to thrive, to get better, to achieve this or that. And it’s never ending — and extremely exhausting.
The minute I set foot outside my door to travel, all my life vanishes.
Traveling for me is an adventure, without seeing the exact plan of the events. And while the lack of planning annoys me to death while living my ordinary life at home, this is the gist of traveling.
I only make vague plans, I only set a few cornerstones and goals for myself, without a tight schedule, without time pressure — allowing myself to deter, in case something else comes up.
Traveling with someone else can be tricky if one of you has different expectations, or one has a pre-planned itinerary, the other would prefer just wandering. It is possible to find someone who shares your mindset about leaving expectations behind, but if you travel alone, it’s on you.
Alone doesn’t have to mean you’re lonely
For lots, traveling alone is scary, because of being alone. For me, that’s the point. When I was traveling to Barcelona — completely alone, unknown city, without a single person to meet there — it scared me a bit. But wandering the streets, exploring the city I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.
I finally had time to spend with myself. To enjoy my own company. To listen to the thoughts roaming around in my head, while breathing in the atmosphere of the city, marveling at the sites — or quietly sipping a coffee sitting on the stairs of a church.
I wasn’t lonely — I needed to be alone. I needed this time to clear my head, to let go of my worries —which I left at home.
Less talking, more walking
If you travel with someone, you will definitely talk — a lot. At least I do. I feel the urge to talk about what I see, what I feel, to discuss where to go next, what to see next.
Being alone meant that I was quiet most of the time. I didn’t need to phrase each thought that formed in my head, I didn’t have anyone to share it with — so all my joy was just for me, and I could feel it filling me up, as the hours and days went by.
I didn’t have anyone to complain to either. I noticed that sometimes we complain because we think we are supposed to.
Isn’t the queue too long? You should point it out.
Is the beach too far? You should make a comment.
Is the coffee too hot? At least, nag about it a bit.
Isn’t the apartment different from the pictures? Let it ruin your whole trip!
When I didn’t have anyone to point out irrelevant annoying things, I didn’t even notice them. I enjoyed walking for hours, without complaining about being tired — even if I was. I put my shoes on and just went, and I got lost — and I loved it, it didn’t annoy me one bit.
Your own preferences, at your pace
When traveling with someone, the point would be that both of you enjoy the trip, meaning you will need to make a few compromises. Even if they are no big deal, you still need to discuss preferences, you still need to watch out for the other, to make sure they are fine.
As I was alone, I did everything on my own, at my own pace.
I stopped when I got tired, I walked when I wanted, I looked at sights for as long as I wanted — meaning that if I didn’t like something I could walk away without needing to check if the time I spent was enough. If I got bored, I moved.
On the same note, if I wanted to stare at something for half an hour without moving, I didn’t need to validate it with anyone. I spent two hours inside Sagrada Família — and it was amazing and moving and incredible. I wouldn’t have had the same experience of that amazing grace and the presence of God, had I not been alone.
I took pictures of what I wanted. I ignored famous sights if I didn't like them because there was no one to remind me, that I am supposed to.
I walked at my own pace — slow of swift — without needing to adjust it to anyone. This is such a relief!
Meeting people while alone
Traveling is magical because of the people you meet. Because of the locals who have different lives than the one that you left behind, and because of fellow-travelers who share a moment in time with you, as you are passing by.
I was never lonely because I was open to meeting other people. I wasn’t with someone, so I was easy to approach, easy to start a conversation with. And I was more inclined to start a conversation with strangers, bartenders, people on the street, people I met while sightseeing.
When I travel with someone, I am usually busy with them, traveling is an opportunity to spend time with them, talk to them, adjust to them.
Without a companion, everything is up to me. My choices, my conversations, my silence.
People think that traveling alone is either a huge thing, a sign of bravery or something to pity me for — “the poor thing doesn’t have anyone to travel with.”
It’s none of these. It’s a choice — if you ask me, a great one. And if you have the right mindset it gives you a fresh perspective, a superb escape, it lets you meet interesting people, and most importantly it reconnects you with you.
I’d suggest you pack your bags and try it. Even for two days, try it and fall in love with it.
Thanks for reading.