How Traveling Alone Helped Me Grow More Mature
Tomorrow, I will be traveling to NYC. And yes, I will be traveling alone. Especially during this time, it’s difficult to cross the border unless it’s essential. It’s a privilege to travel for me right now because I get to experience post-covid travel transformation early on (Not to mention that I’ve already managed to travel four times during the pandemic).
I guess I will have great stories to tell my grandchildren in the future. Before that time comes, I would like to share some lessons I learned by traveling alone.
I assume that many of you reading this article may have already tried traveling alone. Still, many people haven’t as well. If you can travel alone without loneliness, then you’re ahead of the game. Most people believe traveling should be with family and friends. And we can easily see families traveling together as well as friends and couples. So, it does make sense when more people prefer traveling together. But still, we should consider trying out solo traveling.
My solo travel started when I was in middle school. Despite my young age, my mother wanted me to see the outside world—so, she helped me book my flight to the states (and til then, I’ve lived most of my life here in Seoul). At first, I was worried about whether I will be able to handle the trip myself.
But once the trip was over, I realized that I was more independent than I thought. From start to finish, I learned that all choices had to be made by me. This felt liberating at first because it was the first time in my life that I took control of all the options available. However, it wasn't easy at the same time since all choices came with responsibilities and consequences. Solo traveling allowed me to gain more confidence that led me to who I am today. I am now 100% self-dependent and have managed to live the way I want to live.
Traveling alone has a lot of phases. The first step is to plan for the travel. You’ll need to arrange a timeline in your schedule, book your flight ticket, find a place to stay, look for attractions and restaurants, pack up your bag, and say farewell to your family and friends. You see, the first step is already hectic.
Once you finish all of the above, the next step is to go to the airport. If you live further away from the airport, you’ll need to find a way to the airport. Whether you ride the taxi, rent a car, or get a free ride from your friend—you’ll have to find a way for you to be at the airport on time. After you arrive at the airport, you’ll have to check in your flight, send your luggage, go through carry-on luggage scanning, and pass the immigration. After that, you may want to find a place to drink some coffee or eat a quick snack before the flight.
Step three is to arrive at the destination and live. Once you arrive at the place you’ve planned all along to visit, then you can now start your journey. Check-in at the Airbnb or hotel that you’ve booked, look around the neighborhood find people to talk to, visit a museum or gallery, see how people live, and experience life from a different environment.
From then on, you’ll start to feel how it’s like to travel alone. If you enjoy it, then that’s great. If not, that’s great as well. And this is because you learned how to think for yourself and created your identity as a person who likes or dislikes travel experience.
When you start to travel around, you’ll realize that every action is a choice of yours. Without asking for any permission, you can do literally whatever you want. But the choices you take for every option while you travel will configure your identity.
- If you go to a steakhouse instead of cheap fast food, you tell yourself that you value the food you intake over money.
- Suppose you choose to go to a museum instead of going to a bar. In that case, you are telling yourself that you enjoy seeing artworks rather than drinking.
And similar process like this above repeats throughout the whole trip.
All of these choices then compile and create who you are. You get to grow your sense of taste: what you eat, see, hear, touch, smell, and feel will become how you like to live your life to the fullest. You will know what you like or dislike. You’ll also see what you’d do when you’re by yourself. You get to be your true self. And that is the beauty of traveling alone.
As time passes, you’ll be able to make decisions based on your preference—leading to the lifestyle that you want, finding a job that you like, and portraying yourself to others as who you truly are. By traveling alone, also means adding more taste to your personality. Your personality will grow bolder as you travel more.
In a time like this, where we can’t travel freely, we can also experience solo travel similarly by shifting our daily routine. If you always eat out with your friend, try eating out by yourself. If you keep gaining weight, go for an exercise after work. If you are spending every weekend drinking, then cut off drink and spend time at home reading. But, when the travel gets lifted, I hope everyone has the chance to travel alone.
These small changes will shift how you think, and it will lead to who you become.