Fears. People have countless, strange and irrational fears. Ones that are unexplained. Like myself for example, I fear chickens. You might wonder why, but that is a story for another time that has to do with being traumatized by them as a child. One of the greatest and most common fear people have, even if they won't admit it, is being alone. I think this is one of the silliest fears, but also one of the greatest to overcome. As the great Oscar Wilde once said,
“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”
These words have always spoken to me. You need to learn how to be just Kate, just Alex, just Mary, or just magnificent, just outspoken or just adventurous. Whoever you are, you need to find out who that is without someone else, without your family, without your friends or without your boyfriend. WHO ARE YOU? Just you. This is also one of the most crucial times in your life to develop and find who you are, your college years. One of the most rewarding, self-finding,and self-fulfilling things you can do with your time in college, is spending some of it abroad. I have created a list of ten reasons why traveling alone is one of the best things you can do.
It will boost your confidence.
When you travel alone you only have yourself to turn to. There is no one to rely on but yourself. So if you are traveling in a country you are not familiar with at all and you can not only survive, but get around well, it's hugely liberating. You fly alone, take buses alone, talk to locals alone, while possibly being in a country with a language you do not speak.
It will make you adaptable.
Traveling is never perfect, but that adds to the magic of it. There will be times you miss a flight, a train or a cab. There will be times you lose luggage, don't understand the language or have to eat something you are not familiar with. All of this will make you adaptable to situations, adaptable to change.
It will allow you to meet more locals and immerse yourself in the culture.
When you are traveling alone you are more observant of everything going on around you. It opens you up to meeting more people and truly immersing yourself in the culture. If you are alone, you are not relying on someone else and you look more approachable versus if you are in a group. Traveling alone, you will be the only one from your culture versus being in a large group of say, Americans. You will be able to recognize more aspects of the culture and immerse yourself in their way of daily life, acting and living.
It will make for more meaningful experiences.
When you travel alone the memories you make are simply your own. The experiences you have are only yours to share. Every decision you make will be your own so you can't go back and be upset because you did what your traveling companion wanted to do instead of what you really wanted to do.
It will make you assertive.
It is up to you when traveling alone to make all the decisions, so if you are indecisive this might also make you a more decisive person! When you are abroad and have to complete tasks you've never done before, like taking a bus in Spain, any accomplishment makes you feel on top of the world. You learn how to assert yourself in a variety of different situations and with a range of people.
It will help give you direction.
Sometimes getting lost helps you find yourself. In college many of us have no idea what we want to do with our lives. Sure, we know people we love, hobbies we like to do and maybe changes we want to make in the world. Many of us struggle with deciding how to find a career that makes our soul happy. Travel will help you find that passion and it will lead you to it. You might be lost when you start your journey abroad, but I promise when you return you will have a much better sense of where you're going.
It's hard to explain exactly how travel makes you feel, but the one word that comes to mind is alive. It allows you to break out of your comfort zone and it feels like a breath of fresh air. You will come back feeling inspired. Inspired to travel again, inspired to be the best person you can be and inspired to find happiness in the little everyday things. Never again will you feel like what you're doing has no purpose. Going abroad is achieving such a huge goal and it inspires you to achieve anything you set your mind to.
It will make you independent.
If you can travel the world solo, you can do anything on your own. You won't hesitate when you return home to go get coffee solo or to go to an event alone and make new friends. In fact it's activities like those that you will be excited for, that you will part-take in more. You will have a greater appreciation for doing things alone, more so then ever before.
It will give you perspective.
We all have perspective, but when you travel alone that perspective changes drastically. You meet people from other cultures and they show you a way of looking at the world you never knew. You become aware of new issues that the world faces and even learn to have a new way of looking at issues you already knew of. You realize through travel what a small place you occupy, but what a large difference you can make.
One of the best words to ever grace language: adventure. Adventure is all about having exciting and unique experiences. When you travel alone very step you take will hold an adventure in itself. Traveling alone will also help you realize how to create adventure out of the simplest things.