This summer I set out on a backpacking trip around Europe for my birthday. It was my first time traveling to places I had never been to on my own that wasn’t for work. Prior to this trip, I was in desperate need of inspiration. As a creative person, I thrive on it not just for my work but for my life as well. I had been living in a city that felt like it was caving in on me. I was unhappy, and I knew I needed a chance to find myself again and what I wanted in life. I also knew that a big part of that was having time by myself to explore the world and ultimately, find my joy again. It was my version of an Eat, Pray, Love moment and in the end it was well worth it.
One of the reasons I think traveling solo is beneficial is that it can help reconnect you with your passion for your career and your interests. While in London, I saw the Shakespeare play King Lear at The Globe, an exact replica of the famed theatre where Shakespeare’s works were originally performed over 400 years ago. As an actor and writer living Los Angeles, the hub of the entertainment industry, the business side can feel consuming. Having the opportunity to connect with my love for the theater allowed me to feel inspired again. For other travelers, it may not even be about reconnecting with your field of work, but rather your passions and hobbies. For the history buff, seeing the Notre Dame in Paris or the castles of Scotland can invigorate your fascination, or for the music lover, seeing Abbey Road Studios in London can inspire you to practice guitar again.
“Freedom!” That phrase ever so passionately expressed at the finale in Braveheart. The truth is that there is also an abundance of freedom in traveling alone. You literally can see and do whatever you choose. Even if you travel with your best friend in the whole world, you two will inevitably come to a point when you don’t want to see the same thing. While it’s certainly fun to travel with others, it’s also incredibly liberating to create a trip based solely on what you want to do. Upon booking my recent birthday backpacking trip, I had a chance to sit and ask myself “What do I want to see and do?”. I realized that I had never had that opportunity before and the freedom felt really exciting. Of course I got recommendations from others on what to see and do, but ultimately I could pick what sounded good to me and make it happen on my own timeline.
You also have the chance to become outgoing, or perhaps become outgoing once again. Whether you live in a big city or just spend a lot of time on social media, our world can feel isolating, and it’s easy to stay in our own personal shell. After living in Los Angeles for seven years, I was feeling like I had become a closed-off version of myself when it came to engaging with the people around me, so when it came time for my big solo birthday trip, I made it a point to strike up conversations with nice people I met along the way. Allowing yourself to open up is such a great way to meet interesting people from around the world and have opportunities you might not otherwise get. The great thing is that more and more people are traveling unaccompanied, so there’s a good chance your fellow travelers are looking to meet people to hang out with and are in the same boat as you.
Then of course you never know what romantic surprises can come your way as well. Every girl should be so lucky to spend a perfect day in a foreign city with a handsome guy from another country. Of course it’s not love, nor is it ending in a relationship, but for a fleeting amount of time you get to feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Regardless of whether or not you see or speak to that person ever again, the memories will always be worth it, especially if you find yourself randomly staring into space smiling while waiting for your latte on what is usually a miserable Monday morning.
Lastly, a positive aspect of solo travel is also having the opportunity to embrace the moment and be alone with your thoughts. I recently traveled to Scotland, and I’ll never forget the day in which I visited a place called Tantallon Castle which sits right on the coast in North Berwick. I sat out overlooking the ocean and was able to have that time to really reflect on life and what I wanted out of it. This is much easier to do alone, since when we travel with others we can get caught up in conversation or photo-taking.
This particular trip wasn’t just a break from the everyday life, but a chance to feel like myself again at a point when it felt as though I was completely lost. No matter if it’s a journey to the other side of the world, across the country, or even across the state, one of the best things you may end up discovering while traveling on your own is yourself.