Solo traveling is the most liberating experience I could’ve given myself.
The thought of leaving my home country, where everything is familiar was nerve-racking at first.
I had previously studied abroad in France during my college years, but I went through a program and with friends from school. I also knew French and had a great number of people supporting me.
This time around, I went completely solo with no guide or program helping me out. The funny thing is, I was actually never alone.
If anything, I struggled for any alone time. I mostly stayed in hostels where on average I shared a room with 10 other people; so being alone wasn’t really an option.
Luckily, I volunteered through Worldpackers at different hostels (one in Ireland and the other one in Croatia), which made it so much easier to make friends. I was very fortunate to work with wonderful people from all over the world at each location.
Each location taught me something different. I learned that I never want to be a waitress in France nor work in a restaurant. That Ireland has some of the friendliest people, and Croatia is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
The greatest part about traveling alone was that my thoughts weren’t determined based on the opinions of my friends and family.
Every opinion or assumption I had about each place was 100% my own impression. Therefore, no one was influencing me but myself.
Since I was on my own, I found myself doing things I normally would never do back in California. Such as, hitchhiking in Normandy, cliff jumping in Croatia, and singing Karaoke every Wednesday in Ireland.
I became more open-minded. Of course, there were some instances where I wish I’d been traveling with someone I knew. My credit card wasn’t working when I first arrived in Europe, so I had to call my back and was unable to leave the airport until I figured it out.
I didn’t like going out late at night on my own even though I knew the areas were completely safe. Though I was alone, I made sure to have a safety net everywhere I went. By either telling someone where I would be or familiarizing myself with the location immediately after arriving.
I went bankrupt once on my trip and was lucky enough to have someone cover me for the day from the hostel, but I had to call some relatives to help me out.
After that, I quickly changed my spending habits and realized I needed to check my bank account more often. In the end, I didn’t have any major problems traveling solo and I had the time of my life.
I now feel more confident and humble because of this experience. I learned how tiny we all are in this huge world. I probably would never have gone through the same experiences if I’d simply traveled with friends.
The people I met are what I will cherish the most. Not necessarily the places, but the memories I made with the people I encountered. At the end of the day, human connection is one of the most important things in this world.