5 Reasons to Try Solo Travel

Last week, I decided to take a bus to London for a few days by myself. My time alone involved lots of Chinese food, discounted West End musical tickets, and ultimately missing my bus back to Brussels. It was an adventure, to say the least, and it was much needed. Not only did this trip remind me of my love for London, but it reminded me of how much I enjoy traveling alone. Stepping off of a plane (or bus, in this case) into a city where you don’t know anyone provides a fresh start, even if only for a few days. You can be whoever you want. You can do whatever you want. And when you are in charge of your own plans, you are bound to gain lots of confidence. Although the list is endless, let’s talk about 5 reasons you should try traveling alone.

1. Your plans are the only plans

Have you ever been with a group of people who wanted to go to one museum while you wanted to go to another? Or who wanted to eat sushi while you wanted Italian food? Compromise is the key to successfully traveling with groups. But when you’re traveling alone, the only person you have to compromise with is yourself! You make all the decisions throughout your travels, allowing you to shape your trip exactly the way you want.

2. You will be more focused on your surroundings

Oftentimes when I am traveling with friends, I am focused on our conversations, rather than the beautiful architecture and landmarks surrounding us. When I am alone, however, I am simply free to marvel at the world around me.

3. You are more likely to meet new people

When I am traveling alone, I find myself more willing to talk to people around me – especially to those who are also solo traveling! This past week in London, I made two new friends in my hostel and had a great conversation with a guy from Australia while seeing Heathers the Musical. It’s easy to interact solely with the people you’re traveling with so being alone gives you that extra push to branch out.

4. You will learn to appreciate your own company

Eating alone in a restaurant or park may sound uncomfortable in the beginning. But I promise that once you overcome the awkwardness, doing activities alone can be peaceful. I can’t promise that you won’t receive some odd looks from people but just brush them off and appreciate your own company.

5. Most importantly, it’s empowering!

As a woman, I have felt especially discouraged in the past when it came to traveling alone. After all, there are certain safety concerns while traveling that women have to worry about that often aren’t issues for men. But I’ve found that with the right research and general awareness of my surroundings, traveling alone is absolutely possible. Additionally, packing up my bags and heading to a foreign country despite doubts from others is empowering and a testament to my own courage. I encourage every woman to take a trip alone at some point in her life. You will see that you are so much more capable than you think. With that being said, this also goes for men too. It can be a daunting task for anyone and tackling your fears is the only way to grow.

Solo travel can seem intimidating or perhaps even lonely. But with the right mindset, it can be an adventure full of growth and reflection. So be brave and buy that plane ticket!

 

Check out some pictures from my most recent trip!

 

 

A Word on Homesickness

Some days I really miss Ohio.

I miss my family.

I miss my friends.

I miss good Mexican food.

I miss little conveniences like 24-hour Walgreens and the infinite possibilities within Target.

And of course, I miss my dog.

Before I moved to Brussels, the longest I had been outside of the U.S. was two months. Obviously, I had never experienced real homesickness. So when I started feeling homesick the first WEEK I was in Brussels, I panicked.

Something must be wrong, I thought.

Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be here.

Maybe I made a huge mistake leaving my beautiful life in Ohio.

It was scary to move to Belgium with no friends and no knowledge of French. I like adventures and challenges, but this?

This was another level.

The homesickness I felt during those first few weeks was intense. It made me question my dreams of traveling the world. It made me doubt my abilities and my career choice. Homesickness is different for everyone. But over the past eight months, it has given me a new perspective on many aspects of my life.

Missing my home does not mean I shouldn’t travel. It means that I have something beautiful to go home to. And that’s something for which I am very grateful.

It also doesn’t mean that I can’t handle the challenges of living abroad. Sure, being able to speak the same language as the cashier at the grocery store is convenient, but learning French through trial and error is challenging and can sometimes even be fun.

Even on days when I really miss my family, I have to remind myself how much easier it is to stay in touch with them through technology. Whatsapp is a godsend and allows me to talk to my parents every single day, just like I would do if I were living in the U.S. I mean, when my dad studied in Ireland, he had to walk to use a payphone in the middle of the night when he wanted to call his parents. If he could do that, I can sure as hell live abroad with access to the internet

Most importantly, on days when I long to be back in the U.S., I remind myself that this time in Brussels is temporary. Soon, I won’t have access to the amazing history, the great beer, and the waffles that are to-die-for. I won’t be able to hop on a quick train to Paris or grab a cheap flight to Italy for the weekend. This homesickness has taught me so much about staying in the present moment and soaking in the incredible life that I’m currently living. Because before I know it, I will be homesick for what I have right now.