Approximately 12 days, 14 hours, 37 minutes, and 22 seconds from now I’ll be on a flight to Chicago for what I like to call “a trip of self-discovery”. I say self-discovery because I have every intention of finding and doing things I enjoy — alone.
Like exploring the Modern Wing at the The Art Institute of Chicago for a late night art exhibit, throwing back a few beers (and probably a pretzel or two, let’s be honest) at Oktoberfest Chicago, and taking a selfie in the SkyDeck elevator at Willis Tower.
The itinerary I put together for this trip is jam-packed full of things I’ve never done, places I’ve never been to, and foods I’ve never tried. You see, I’m on a mission to find out what I want from life. But most importantly, find out who I am.
Not everyone I know is on board with my decision to travel alone, though. The reactions I received from family and friends were mostly unanimous. “By yourself? That’s dangerous! You’ll get kidnapped, raped, murdered, or all of the above!” And while I agree that making reservations to share a room with eight strangers in a hostel (for the experience, OK) wasn’t my best move, I argue that I’m fairly… ok, moderately skilled in talking my way out of almost any situation and pretty damn good with pepper spray. So a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do.
And if I can do it, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t sponsor your own trip of self-discovery. Here’s a list of six reasons why it’s OK to, and why you should travel solo.
1. You don’t have to worry about doing what someone else wants to do.
Don’t want to eat there? Don’t have to. Being able to focus solely on what you want to do leaves little room for disappointment. Your vacation, your terms. Even if it means eating that second slice of Chicago-style pizza you know you shouldn’t have. INDULGE!
2. It pushes you out of your comfort zone.
“Being in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people makes me super comfortable,” said no one ever. The point of traveling alone is to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone builds courage and self-confidence!
3. You meet new people.
Which means you make new friends! There is no limit to the amount of friendship you can share with the world. Buy someone a drink, share stories, make memories, allow yourself to be inspired by others.
4. You have the time.
Most 20-somethings are still in the early stages of their careers. Stop making excuses for why you don’t have the time and start exploring what life has to offer while you do. Because you totally do.
5. You are the best kind of company.
Maxwell Maltz once said, “If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone”. And if you’ve ever been shopping alone, you know exactly what’s he talking about. Forget feeling guilty, because dammit, you’re allowed to take as much time as you need trying on shoes! And you’re allowed to enjoy your own company.
6. You deserve to.
Don’t forget or sacrifice your dreams, interests, or passions. You should travel solo at least once because You. Deserve. To.