5 Life-Changing Lessons You’ll Only Learn From Traveling Alone


1. Nobody notices you’re traveling alone.

Nobody cares either. This was a fear of mine, I won’t lie. It felt strange getting on a train, traveling across the country, and even more strange entering a theme park alone. I’m 29 and though I had passed any issues with self-esteem that would accompany going places alone. For the most part they have. I’ve gone out to eat alone, attended movies and yoga classes alone, taken myself out for a drink. I’m quite content with my own company. Traveling alone on a legit vacation was a different story and the shy 15yo girl in us who refuses to die or at the very least, shut the hell up reared her ugly head. But nobody noticed. Nobody looked at me twice. They were all on vacation too, and in the end I felt silly for worrying.

2. It’s up to you to pack everything.

No really. If you’re still a little used to doing everything as a team like I was, get used to doing everything solo real quick before you travel alone. For the most part I have, and am more independent than I ever have been. But I nearly screamed for the entirety of the trip when I opened my bag only to find I’d forgotten my phone charger and would essentially miss every photographic opportunity for the whole of the train ride. Small things like that would have been something my former SO would have remembered. Traveling alone showed me there was still slack I needed to pick up.

3. The world isn’t as scary as you think.

Don’t get me wrong. It can be scary as all fuck. Twice on the train alone I was accosted by drunks, but on the train that’s different. There are people standing all about ready to witness and intervene if somebody tries anything. Despite this, I was still left slightly rattled. I was left more horrified when approached by a young man in the train station, asking me back to his hotel room. Only he didn’t ask, so much as firmly grab my arm and pull me away from train. I count myself lucky, but these were the only instances I experienced any issues that made me uncomfortable. I was not almost murdered with every other breath I took, nor were there errant citizens trying to grab my goodies. Granted I may be the exception to the rule, as this was the first time I traveled alone. I still had a knife and pepper spray on me the majority of the time, and recommend everybody does so, no matter how safe I think the world may be.

4. You can travel at your own pace, so to speak.

I mean this in a very specific way. I was on a train. I have no control over that, but I was able to enjoy it as I wanted to. If I wanted to observe the scenery, I was able to do that. And I did that for hours at a time. If I wanted to sleep for two or eight hours, I could, and I did. If I wanted to read three lines of a book or four chapters, I could and did. If I wanted to sit quietly in a corner of the dining car and cry into my coffee as the weight of my life cascaded down my head and shoulders I could and did. These aren’t necessarily freedoms I would have been granted traveling with others, but upon coming home I felt cleansed, refreshed, rebooted. With nobody to organize my schedule and nobody to compromise with I was left to the whims of what my mind and body needed. Giving it what it needed was freeing, empowering, and allowed me to make definitive decisions in my life I had been avoiding.

5. You can enjoy life on your own.

I was skeptical about taking this trip alone. It is one thing to grab a quick bite to eat or go see a movie, and quite another to go on vacation to a theme park. To be fair, it’s weird at first, even if you are comfortable with your own company. You will be alone for several days, and you will be doing things you likely have never done before, also alone. There will be nobody to your left or right to turn to, laugh with, take photos of, or make memories with. Strangely, this feeling, or the desire for this goes away almost immediately as you envelop yourself in the feeling of doing new things, opening yourself up to the world, and disassociating yourself with the long-held norm that if you leave home you should take somebody with you. I became so enraptured in experiencing all of these new things and internalizing them, even after buying a phone charger I managed to take a grand total of ten pictures. The whole experience will center you, teach you to live in the moment, and show you how to be at peace with yourself in new places. Coming from somebody with intense social anxiety, it was honestly one of the most cathartic things I’ve ever experienced. I’m not promoting a lone wolf lifestyle; find people you love who love you and keep them close, but don’t be afraid to step out your front door alone every once in awhile.