How many cliché articles have you read about the importance of traveling alone? We get it. Traveling alone will fulfill a piece of you that you never thought could be fulfilled without someone else. It will open up your mind and heart to new experiences where you can fully take in the breadth of this self-exploration. Gag.
Before I embarked on a solo trip, I had eye rolled so hard over those “Go you!” articles telling me to travel alone for self-empowerment. I thought that a trip taken alone would make me feel even lonelier after a very painful end to a relationship. Obviously a beautiful place with gorgeous scenery would make me feel even worse and heighten those feelings of emptiness, right?
To my surprise, traveling did exactly the opposite. Here’s why.
The specific action of traveling alone wasn’t the problem. My skewed outlook on traveling alone was.
It was kind of embarrassing to admit that I was taking a vacation by my lonesome to explore, write in my journal, and “find myself.” Who actually wants to admit that? In our society, we can barely eat dinner alone without being looked at as a pariah.
When I told a few people that I was traveling, the first question that they asked me was not the location, but who I was traveling with. Therefore, you can imagine the look on their faces when I told them that I was traveling solo.
Though, I remember when I started doing research on where to go, where to eat, what museums to visit, what friends from long ago possibly lived there. I became more and more empowered by the notion of going somewhere solely for me.
As my trip became more of a reality, the pain and heartbreak that fueled my reasoning for initially going felt less and less like my motivation for traveling. Instead, encountering new restaurants to dine at, talking to new people, and saying “yes!” to snowmobiling became my why.
Of course, I had my doubts. Upon arrival day, I kept thinking, “What am I going to do with myself for these next few days?” To combat that pre-vacation feeling of emptiness, I created a strict itinerary so at almost every hour I was doing something productive with my time (apparently, I even planned to control my dreams?). But after just the first day, that feeling quickly faded and my schedule opened up, allowing me to just sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee without having to rationalize why I needed that cup of coffee.
Traveling alone shouldn’t feel like an isolating experience, but one that forces you to get in touch with yourself at a level that extends miles beyond the occasional decision to stay in on a Saturday night.
Whatever the reason for deciding to take a quick weekend vacation or a journey across the world alone, understand that those preliminary feelings of loneliness do not linger, but instead become an emotion that you eventually come to terms with in the most enlightening way possible.