Today I turn 38. It seems so strange because only a few years ago I was eating a hamburger the size of my face in Nicaragua, and unbelievably 3 years ago I was writing about being a traveling spinster. Last year I shared 37 travel lessons but this year I have only one to share.
At some point in your life you should travel solo.
It seems like such an arbitrary proclamation but here’s why:
The fear of being alone is the single most terrifying fear and it’s one that unites us as humans. It’s also our biggest downfall because it’s holding us back. It makes us stay in relationships that are long overdue, it makes us wonder if we should have children, it even prevents us from going to movies or dinner when no one else wants to go. It prevents us from traveling.
Instead we stay home.
Over the years I’ve accumulated a few hundred emails from readers asking if they should travel solo. They reach out to me because they’re in a relationship or just timid.
I’ve hesitated over the years to give advice to people I haven’t met. Usually I respond with a standard “If you’re asking a stranger whether you should end your relationship to travel you already know the answer.”
But today on my 38th birthday I feel a bit more brash, so here’s what I want to say.
Traveling alone is exhilarating, terrifying, joyous, crushing, and the single most important gift you can give yourself. It’s a fantastical struggle and at the end you will be stronger for it.
So if you’re in a relationship that should have been over long ago, end it. Immediately buy a plane ticket and focus your energy on where you’ll go instead of where you stayed too long.
Don’t let being alone prevent you from doing amazing things. When you travel solo you aren’t always alone. But you do learn to eat alone, go to movies alone, watch sunsets and marvel in the fact that you took a chance and decided nothing would hold you back from seeing the world. You learn to make new friends, reach out to other solo travelers who look lonely, start conversations with people you have nothing in common with.
In my traveling spinster post I admitted I didn’t want children but what I didn’t share, was that I started to believe my path in this world was solo. That I’d never really find anyone for the long haul.I believed I’d have romantic interludes and move on, but no great love.
And I was ok with that.
Not because I wanted to be alone but after 3 years of traveling solo I realized I was enough. I didn’t want that Jerry Maguire moment where someone would complete me. I had completed myself. I wasn’t afraid of being alone any longer.
Now of course shortly thereafter I met Dave and my world changed. But in so many ways I don’t think I would have been ready for him if it hadn’t been for what I learned traveling. If I hadn’t felt complete on my own.
If you have the itch. Don’t deny it. Because the worst thing in life is regret.
And if you’re in a relationship with someone wonderful like I am then go for it in a different way. This summer I’m taking some time to travel solo yet again. As amazing as it is to travel in a relationship I still love the thrill of traveling solo.