AKA: my favourite hobby. Of course, heading off on a trip with people you travel well with is sure to be a great time, but there's something so insanely empowering and rewarding about packing your bag and taking off to a foreign country completely alone and reliant on no one but yourself. You're your own guide; there's no other voice there to tell you what to do, where to go, how or when to do it... it's a fiercely independent play. I use to struggle with issues with co-dependency, and the thought of traveling alone would be enough to cause a tsunami of anxiety and throw me right over the edge... which is exactly why I started doing it.
I remember when I took off for my first solo trip. I had managed to keep my cool for long enough to get to the airport (although, every bone in me was ready to just skip out altogether and stay home) and made it through security to my gate. As I was waiting for my plane to board I called my Dad, and right as I got off the phone I fell into a serious panic episode. You know, the kind where your head begins to spin into an endless web of dizzying vertigo, and the walls start shaking, and you can hardly walk because the floor is moving in waves, and you feel like you're breathing through a straw, and that someone is standing on your chest (panic attacks suck)... I headed to the bar because, naturally, I figured alcohol would help more than it would hurt. I basically crawled my way up and onto the bar stool and ordered a triple Jack, neat. As I was sitting, chugging back my cup of liquor trying to look as normal as possible whilst focusing on not dying, this couple that had just walked up pointed towards me made a joke to the bartender.
"I wanna be on her level!"
They really thought I was just taking it easy, pounding back a few drinks before my flight - what a fun time! I locked eyes with them and, not kidding, instantly BURST out crying. Like full on shaking and hysterics into my literal full cup of whiskey. They briskly retreated away from me, the bartender looked on stunned... looking back now, it was fucking hilarious, but I was so so scared. I got on my flight (which I had booked a one-way ticket) and eventually booked a flight home... 5 weeks later. Don't become a victim to your own security net.
I'm not here trying to be pressed about how could one NOT want to travel alone; there's a lot of reason TO be scared. You worry about safety, getting stranded, feeling alone, EATING alone (something I use to loathe even the thought of, but now, even in Toronto I'll go grab lunch or a drink by myself, idgaf). As a female especially, you should, of course, be smart and have your guard up a bit more than going out with a group, but that doesn't mean you still can't let loose, be social and do all the things you want to do and see everything you want to see.
I've now been on a handful of trips alone, and I can honestly say this much: it's easier than you think to make friends, you rarely get lost (and if you do, locals are always open and willing to help), and I've never asked a complete stranger to take my photo and have them bolt off into the distance with my smartphone in hand. Make yourself aware of your surroundings beforehand so you can go into a new place with confidence, be smart when it comes to your personal belongings, don't drink too much, and if something doesn't feel right, don't ignore that gut instinct and just separate yourself from the situation. You can bet that you're surrounded by tons of likeminded people who are there to have fun and discover a new place just like you are. I still have people I talk to everyday that I met while travelling. I have people I still SEE more than once a year that I met while travelling, whether I visit them, they visit me, or we meet somewhere completely new.
I personally find that I'm my best self when I'm abroad. I'm open-minded, easy going, funny as hell (there are videos for proof), and happy as a clam in mud at high tide. I love going out and meeting people, making lifelong connections, trying to leave a bit of me each place I go. Hang out with people who aren't the same as you. Embracing difference and change is how you grow and have the most interesting and life altering experiences. It's easy to become complacent with yourself when you're at home, running through the clockwork of the same routine day to day. Whenever I start to feel that cloudiness beginning to cast over again, I book another flight.
We don't often purposely put ourselves outside of our comfort zone, because it's a naturally unsettling feeling; but it's in these moments where your personal resilience is tested and you realize how truly resourceful you are. Chaos becomes synonymous with spontaneity, the anxiety turns into the thrill, unfamiliarity morphs into adventure... it all depends on how you decide to shift your perspective. It's the most open way to see the world.
Remember, you're there for the experience. You won't remember the fears you had, or the anxious moments leading up to it (unless it involves something funny, like sobbing in an airport bar). You'll never forget those sleepy days spent with yourself hiking to new heights, riding trolleys through winding streets, wandering cobblestone alleys lined with art galleries, or having lunch with a new friend on the edge of a tranquil canal. The world is not as dangerous as the news makes out; and if the idea of heading to a different hemisphere solo is too daunting, explore a new city or town in an area where you feel more comfortable. Wherever you decide to go, just make sure to march to the beat of your own drum.
Post from Teaghan Marie Travel
Instagram - @teaghanmarie