The first time I stepped foot in another country, I knew my life was changed forever.
I felt as though my eyes were suddenly wide open and I was seeing everything through a brand new lens.
I had felt a strong sense of self, like this is what I was born to do more of. I couldn’t explain how or why, but there was a strong connection that I needed to lean more into.
I was meeting people, seeing things and trying experiences that I had never even dreamt of. It was as if I had been living in a cave for the first 22 years of my life and suddenly felt incredible awe and inspiration for what I was seeing.
It also opened my eyes to a whole new idea of what I was capable of personally. I remember the plane pulling in for landing at London Heathrow and looking out the tiny little airplane window thinking, “Wow, I finally did it. I am here and I did it all on my own.”
Like most young women my age, I had saved up both money and courage for a couple of years. The one thing that I wasn’t able to drum up, however, was someone to go on this adventure with. I had been waiting for someone to sign up with me, but realized that I was waiting for something or someone for far too long, so I decided to take control of my own life and go alone.
Since then, I have come to realize even more that traveling is a part of me. I have checked off all seven continents from my bucket list and continue to make my way to new countries each year. Even when I think it’s impossible, somehow the universe manages to open doors to allow me to keep going.
From a shy, introverted, fearful young woman, traveling has opened me up and challenged me beyond measure. Through my travels I have learned more about myself then I could have ever learned through experiences at home or in books. It pushed me to new limits and allowed me to face many of my fears head on.
Here are five reasons why it might be time for you to take that trip alone:
1) It will allow you to put things back in perspective.
I often caught myself in this mindset of thinking how big my problems were, but traveling allowed me to put that back in perspective. When we are in the comfort of our own homes, towns, friends and jobs, we allow our problems to overtake us and seem larger than life. It’s because we have this illusion that we are safe and that these problems make us unsafe.
To step foot out of your comfort zone and into another country, alone, immediately puts you and your problems back in their place.
Suddenly the fact that your boyfriend broke up with you for another girl seems insignificant compared to the fact you don’t understand the language spoken or even how to maneuver from the airport to your hotel.
It makes you realize how tiny and insignificant your problems are in the big scheme of things and a new appreciation for all that you do have.
2) You will finally get comfortable with being alone and to enjoy your company.
Before I traveled, I couldn’t imagine sitting in a restaurant by myself. Oh, the horror and embarrassment! What would people think?
This all went out the window once I began traveling. I learned that if I didn’t eat alone, I didn’t eat. And I started to enjoy the freedom of it all and making decisions all by myself.
Of course it will feel lonely, especially at first and if you have never done it before. But the independence and freedom that you will feel by being completely alone will be so incredibly liberating.
3) It will force you to trust yourself and your intuition.
Every day spent traveling alone is a test of wits, and sometimes you will wonder what the hell you are doing there.
I learned the hard way what it means to trust your gut when something feels off. When the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and your chest feels tight, that is your lizard brain kicking in telling you to make a move. Fight or flight.
It’s true that traveling as a lone female isn’t completely sunshine and roses, and you must definitely be smart and alert at all times.
But this is a great tool for women and to stay in tune and prepared, even when you return back home. You learn survival tactics and how to stay safe and always be present and aware. All of my close calls were due to my naivety and not being fully present.
4) It will completely change your perceptions on people and things.
What you believe to be truth will be proven wrong time and time again. Get used to it.
Can you think of a time when you were wrong about a person or a belief? Did it feel liberating when you found out the truth? Did it challenge you to think that other paradigms in your life could also be wrong?
Now, imagine your ideas are proven wrong or inaccurate each and every day.
It was so incredibly exciting for me to watch my thoughts and ideas about people and places be proven wrong, because it allowed me to start to challenge everything I thought I knew or had been told.
It showed me that I was capable of changing my thoughts and that I too could change peoples’ thoughts of me. Just because the story was that I was too ___ (fill in the blank), I could be anything I wanted to be and I too could change their perception.
5) You can remove the mask once and for all.
Sometimes I felt like I was maneuvering through life with different versions of myself. There was professional me, daughter me, sister me, and friend me.
When I traveled I could be, just simply, me. There was no other persona I had to fulfill or be. I was just little ol’ me in a new country. There was no pre-conceived notion as to who I was or how I was supposed to be. There was no judgment or story. And even if there was, it didn’t matter.
I was finally my authentic self and that was the most liberating of all.
So if you are feeling a little disoriented in life and that things may be a little out of perspective, ask yourself if taking a little detour or side trip might be just what you need to finally start to find the true you.
Author: Jodie Hebbard
Editor: Emily Bartran