“You should travel alone at least once in your life”, a wellbeing blog stated. I read through it avidly as a girl described how travelling the world on her own had opened her eyes, as she met new people, learnt about other cultures, and made a living out of writing a travelling blog. I was so fascinated by this that I read as much as I could on her blog. “I want to travel alone” I said to my mom. She encouraged me as she tried to hide the fear of her daughter going to a strange place on her own. Five years later, I finally did it. I took a small jump and booked a weekend, a two hour-flight away from home. This might seem as such a small thing, but for me it’s the most on my own I have been on my life, having always lived and travelled with other people.
Here are the things you do not learn from other blog posts about travelling alone:
- You will go through a range of emotions within the first few hours you are alone. As the only friend I have in this city got on the train, it suddenly sunk in. I was alone. Alone in a strange city. It wasn’t exhilarating or made me crave for adventure. It was scary! I just wanted to get to my hotel and stay there. Once I got to the hotel I called my parents and found myself biting my lip to hide a sniffle. I wanted to cry badly. Then it was calm. I sat down on my bed and started writing. I felt calm and had my next day planned. Wake up, have breakfast, and so forth. Everything is going to be ok.
- You will be scared of your own shadow. I was in one of the safest cities in Europe, yet, as I walked down a busy street under the most beautiful sunshine, I felt scared. A man was walking behind me so I found myself making a sudden turn as I crossed the street. And no, I was not being followed. Then I saw three men staring at me and smiling. I thought they wanted to mug me. It was ok, I was safe once back at the hotel.
- You have no one to talk to. I found myself trying to start a conversation with the hotel staff. The poor guy probably saw right through my loneliness, but he kept on chatting until I thought I was embarrassing myself and walked up to my room
Here is what I believe you need to know about travelling alone:
It is scary. Maybe not just the first time, but the first few times. It will get better and you might even enjoy it after you go through the first few emotions (see point 1). You might not find yourself. If you are anything like me, you might just learn that you are one of the people who do not like travelling alone, and that is totally ok. I will keep on dragging someone with me as I like to have someone there.
Travelling alone will teach you new things. You will learn more about yourself, whether you like what your mind tells you or not. I now know that I can survive on my own, I’d just rather not have to try! Anyway, I have enjoyed travelling alone. Next step: travelling with a group of strangers! You won’t know if you like it until you try!
Ana Costa is a yogi and animal lover who works as a physiologist for a living. She loves to smile and making others smile, with and without a lab coat.