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A lonely train stop between Spain and France where I was wondering, "am I in the right place?"[/caption]
Soon after saying, “I do.” to my husband of now five years, my next words were “I want you to know that I love you very much but some day I want to travel, and I want to travel alone.” I got married shortly after graduating from college so I knew that at that age and time in my life, there were still some things I wanted to accomplish that I hadn’t. One of them being traveling alone. I guess this may seem strange to some, but there was something about it that was very important to me. I wanted the chance to go somewhere and rely (almost) completely on myself. A few years ago I got that chance, and it was truly a life changing experience. A woman traveling by herself is never encouraged, but in this two-part travel series I want to be a voice for many women who might have the same inclinations that I did. I also want to give you some tips to traveling alone safely.
The perks of traveling alone
- You and you alone get to make all the travel decisions.
- You gain an entirely new perception of self, and gain a newfound confidence.
- You meet other female travelers that you have a lot in common with and these memories last forever.
- Certain experiences that would be stressful with more travelers come easy to you being alone.
- The solitude heightens spirituality and self-awareness.
I will absolutely never forget the freedom of traveling alone, wandering around for hours, people watching, shopping, and sitting in cafes. You don’t have anyone to worry about except yourself. You get to decide where you eat and what time, what museums you want to see, where you want to shop, and when you want to take an afternoon nap. It might sound horrible but it is so wonderful and freeing. It is true solitude and there is nothing quite like it.
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My friend in solitude: Mona Lisa in Barcelona Spain.[/caption]
Navigating a new city, and in a totally different language, can help you gain a new confidence. At first it seems really scary, but as soon as you conquer it, you realize you could conquer just about anything. Often times part of conquering the maps and subway system means meeting others on the way. I will never forget three women I met who just graduated from UT Austin and were traveling before they embarked on their next life adventure: careers. They were wonderful, fun, and energetic. I also will never forget a couple from Brazil that I met while taking the train from Spain to France. They did not speak French, Spanish, or English but somehow we communicated enough to realize we had much in common. I know I would not have met these people if I had been traveling with others. There would have been no need to seek out the company.
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Finding this beach after a long day of traveling made it all worth it in Barcelona, Spain.[/caption]
The most important aspect of being alone was that while many people were whispering to their friends and family about the Sistine Chapel and couples were bickering over what to see next at the Trevi Fountain, I was sitting there in wonder and appreciation: taking it all in. From the colors to the smells, it was a spiritual experience that I believe I only could have felt and appreciated completely alone. It was just me and my God appreciating Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel. It was just me and my toes in the cool water of the Fontana di Trevi. I sat in silence simply dreaming of the lives that had done the same before me. It was magical and my life will never be the same because of it.
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Fountain Trevi: Rome Italy[/caption]
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Fountain Trevi: Rome Italy[/caption]
In short, while I know there are stigmas about a woman traveling alone, I want to point out the beauty of it. In part II of this travel post, I will discuss some rules to live by when traveling alone. Some I learned in my week alone in Europe and some I learned from living in TJ, Mexico when I was 18. All are valuable and absolute musts if you choose to take the step and travel on your own.