I always say that I think everyone should travel alone at least once in their life. Travelling by yourself can be a scary prospect and I understand that. For many people, the idea of doing anything alone is kind of terrifying, even if it’s going to the cinema alone, getting dinner alone, or any other activity that usually you’d do with someone else. So if you’re someone who doesn’t think they could even see a movie by themselves, then the idea of travelling by yourself might seem impossible. But if the opportunity ever comes around, I think you should do it.
I’ve gone to various different places by myself before. The first time was probably when I went to Canada to study abroad, but I don’t really count that, even though I wasn’t going with a friend. I knew I was heading straight into a student residence and a community of people designed for me to meet new people and make new friends. The second time was when I went to New York on my J1 by myself, and this was the first time I really did feel alone. I was landing in a city with no idea where I was going to live or who I was going to live with, and it wasn’t easy. I had moments where I felt incredibly homesick, which had never happened to me before, and I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it. But I did, and I learned so much about myself that summer. If I could go back, I may change a few things, but I would not change the fact that I went by myself.
While I was living in America, I took the time to travel to other places. I went to Boston to meet some friends, and the few days I got to explore with them were some of my favourite days of my whole summer. Afterwards, I returned to New York and not long after I was off again, this time to Philadelphia to do some solo-sightseeing, and then on to Washington where I hit up the national mall and a few museums by myself too. I had a lot to fit in and I didn’t have much time, and I think I got a lot more done alone than I would have had I gone with someone else.
Travelling alone gives you the opportunity to learn something about yourself – you learn how to enjoy something without needing others to make an experience fulfilling. You learn how great it can be to have a full day ahead and to be fully in control of what to do with it. You learn how to be alone. You also learn what you like and what you don’t like. You’ll learn things you never expected. But most importantly, you learn just how much you’re capable of.
Life is short, so embrace it, even if you gotta go it alone once in a while.
*Photo taken by Mike Andrews (who came to visit me after I had gone off on my travels) on the Brooklyn Bridge.