When I got the official offer letter for my new job opportunity earlier this year I was ecstatic. Not just because of the exciting new opportunity itself but also because I had the chance to travel, freely. By freely I mean traveling without the urge to check work emails, no stress of whether I’d be let go due to a reorg, and no expectations of me whatsoever. Essentially it was ultimate freedom that I get to enjoy – at least for a little while.
I opened up Google Maps and my eyes wandered across the globe to see where my heart wanted to fly to. It landed on Europe. Averaging 30 degrees fahrenheit during the winter, I was in for a ice cold solo adventure. For the fortunate one week I had off, I decided to explore Amsterdam, Prague, and Berlin.
I landed in Amsterdam first. I felt anxious. Apprehensive. I mean, where the heck do I find a taxi from here?! Where is the line? Wait, I need Wi-Fi. Where do I buy a SIM card?! Many questions were racing through my mind but surely enough I was able to find a vendor selling SIM cards at the airport. I stumbled upon a taxi (driven in a Tesla!) and found my way to The Student Hotel where I was staying for two nights. And the rest was history from there.
There are some misconceptions that traveling is lonely. This really depends on what you make of it. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you at that restaurant. Taking a tour? Make chit chat with the tour guide and other attendees. I’m an introvert but when traveling alone I do crave human interaction at times. So during tours, I take advantage of the guide’s undivided attention to strike up a conversation, ask him or her about what it’s like living in that country learn more about their lives. You’ll be surprised to find out what similar emotions and thoughts we all feel on a day-to-day basis despite living a life that can be vastly different from ours. This, alone, can make you into a more compassionate and understanding human being. Well, at least I hope so anyway.
When traveling alone, you’re working on your own accord to survive in this unknown world. You learn who to trust, who to strike up a conversation with, and how to navigate through the complexity of this foreign country – all with your own two feet, brain, and survival instincts. It’s just and you alone – that’s one of the greatest rewards of solo travel: personal growth. Each time you step out of the comfort of your bubble, the more independent and confident you become. You learn a little bit more about what you like and what you don’t, what you desire, what you like, and what you’d never want to come across again in your lifetime. If you’re always putting off a trip because you’re waiting for someone to go with you – stop. Just go. Never, ever let others hold you back from living your life and living out your dreams. The moment you do is the moment you relinquish control of your own fate. So, thinking about taking that one trip you’ve always wanted to take but never did? Well, go book your flight now!