Solo travel is definitely an exciting and growing trend. More and more people are taking the plunge and venturing out on their own and exploring all of the wondrous things this great planet offers. It seems that in the last few years, solo female travel is on the rise as well. A U.S study showed that 72% of women are enthusiastic about solo travel and have traveled on their own for a vacation or work purposes. I don’t think every single solo female traveler got the idea from “Eat, Pray, Love” – but it is an enticing fantasy…quit your job, travel, find yourself, and fall in love…it definitely gets the dreamer in me going.
Recently I was given a really good opportunity to travel to The Netherlands for a “self-discovery” type workshop. It is something that is offered every year to all new employees within our global company. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and quickly accepted the invitation. Then I quickly realized that this was the first time I would be traveling completely alone. Of course, my 3 day work portion would be with other coworkers from around the world (all of whom I have never met) but the remaining 8 days would just be me, myself and I.
I very quickly started day dreaming about all of the attractions I wanted to visit, restaurants I wanted to eat at, souvenirs I wanted to buy…slow down Loraul, let’s dial it back and be more realistic. In reality I only had 3 days in London, 3 days with my coworkers (which was already planned), and 3 days in Amsterdam. I am very much a planner (probably why I’m a travel agent) and so for this experience I really wanted to only plan what was necessary, like hostels and transportation, and let the remainder be where the wind took me. All of my previous “traveling” was family trips to Disneyland and Hawaii, friend trips to Disney World and high school trips to Egypt and China. I felt as if I had something to prove – mostly to myself; that I was capable of doing it alone.
I can say now that I am home and back to my “normal life” that I definitely let the experience guide me and my whirlwind 10 day romance with Europe gave me a lifetime time of memories. As composed as I am on my outer shell, I definitely had some internal meltdowns that a normal person would have while traveling alone: What if I miss my flight? What if my luggage gets lost? What if I run out of money? All of these are logistic things that can be solved one way or another. I was more concerned that I would feel lonely or homesick. I tried not to be too glued to my phone and on social media while I was out. But truthfully, it was nice to text my mum and check-in with her when I felt the need.
I decided to compile a list of the thoughts and realizations that occurred to me while I was away…perhaps they are things other solo travelers have thought as well:
- Eating alone at a restaurant is weird (the first time)
- Eating alone at a restaurant is great after the first time
- I would never go to bar alone at home…but I had no problem doing it while I was away
- I still refuse to use a selfie stick
- I love to people watch…if you catch my eye I will watch you and make up a scenario in my head about what you’re doing
- I’m free to wander as I please
- I have no agenda, and it’s awesome!
- I forced myself to talk to locals and strangers alike and as a result I made a few friends
- It is very liberating to be in a city where nobody knows who I am
- I have a greater appreciate for “me time” or “alone time”
- I feel completely at peace with myself
That last point really resonates with me. I have always been a strong-headed and independent person so I was happy to realize that the entire time I was away I was comfortable. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be at that moment in time. Apparently traveling alone works for me. It is probably not for everyone but there is definitely something to be said for self-discovery, and what better way to do that than to just take the plunge and jump in with both feet.
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