This past weekend I was in Budapest and met someone who helped me put into words how liberating traveling by yourself is. Don’t get me wrong I love being with my friends and getting to make memories with recurring people in my life, but there’s just something about being alone in a new environment that is so important to self-development.
Growing up in the United States we’re told that traveling solo as a female in other parts of the world is not safe and you should always have an accomplice. However, I feel more unsafe walking home during the daytime in Denver than to catch a bus at 3am in Dublin. Obviously not every city is the same and you should definitely look into the safety precautions of wherever you’re traveling to, but from experience it just feels safer at night in Europe. People still live their lives after dark and it’s not intoxicated adult men yelling at you, but rather couples going for an evening stroll, or friends coming home from a park. So yes, be cautious if you travel and look into where you’re going, but also don’t be scared of what could easily be one of the best experiences of your life.
In Budapest, me and my friend Kendall went to the infamous Szechenyi thermal baths. While sitting on the steps and talking about a lost bracelet a girl leaned over and said, “are you guys American?” That one simple line led into a wonderful conversation about how she was also an American on her first solo travel trip after doing some work in Berlin. I did some solo travel before arriving in Ireland so I instantly understood her saying she felt like a freshman in college again. But it’s even better, not only are you placed in a foreign environment with no training wheels to guide you through, but you’re also given the confidence to speak to anyone because, well, you’re probably not going to see them again. I went to the baths with my one friend from DU that day, and ended up booking a river cruise with the stranger I met at the baths, and the Australian she had met earlier that morning (who also happened to be a solo female traveler), and we had an incredible night that I will never forget.
Solo travel puts you out of your comfort zone as far away from the things you’re used to, but also makes you feel more like yourself than ever before. It allows you to find the confidence that was buried beneath your comfort zone, and branch out to make connections and memories that will last a lifetime.