10 Things I've Learnt Traveling Alone
It's been 10 days since my travel partner left to go back home. So far I've learned some valuable lessons that I wanted to share for anyone who is wondering if solo-traveling is for them. Although I hope this is just the beginning of my journey, I've enjoyed myself so far and encourage anyone who is thinking of traveling to do it. Without further ado, here is my list of the top ten things I've discovered about traveling solo!
1. Do what you want, not what people want to see.
Social media has a way of idealizing travel and life in general. I have fallen guilty of taking a photo because I think it might get me more likes or followers. Our generation is heavily influenced by social media or popular media for that matter. I've stopped a couple times and asked myself "Is this really what I want to be doing right now?" If the answer is no, I refocus.
2. Pack your patience
You would think that when you’re traveling alone there's less of a chance to get angry at anyone. Wrong. Several times I’ll make a decision and get frustrated with myself. Remind yourself to be patient, and consider every mistake a lesson.
3. Speaking of packing, don’t overpack.
Since I left at the beginning of September, I’ve left an item here and there at some of my accommodations, simply cause I hadn’t used it and saw no purpose in it taking up weight in my pack. I’m still carrying things around in my bag that I really don’t need. This is obviously my first serious backpacking trip so I’m slowly learning how to perfect my pack.
4. Appreciate the small things.
When a local opens their home to you, appreciate it. I recently was at a Berliner's home and his water heater was broken, so the shower was ice cold. After nine hours sitting on a bus it felt like a warm shower at the Ritz-Carlton.
5. Head up, shoulders back.
These are words my Mom has recited to me since I was a child. Whenever she saw me slouched or with my head down she would tell me to put my head up and shoulders back. I’ve noticed the world opens itself up to you and people approach you more when you put your head up and shoulders back. Even if you aren’t feeling confident or having the best day, fake it until you make it.
6. Pack your headphones.
Music has always been an escape for me when I have too many thoughts in my head. My headphones have saved me from having a panic attack a couple times. Whenever I’m having a difficult day I pop them in and escape for a bit.
7. Trust your gut.
More often than not your instincts are going to lead you into the best direction. I’ve turned down a couple dates or offers to couchsurf because I wasn’t getting the best gut feeling from the person and don’t feel guilty or like you have to say yes just because you may be desperate for somewhere to sleep or for someone to talk to, trust yourself.
8. ET, Phone home.
Never underestimate the power of a call home. Venting your worries and frustrations to someone back home has been a huge relief for me. I tend to tell myself that I'm being overbearing, a burden, and high-maintainance whenever I reach out to family or friends, but reminding myself that this is who I am and I cope with my mental illness through discussing and working through my thoughts out loud.
When we were visiting the Gemäldegalerie Gallery I walked into an empty room. The walls were bare except for the few paintings that were suspended from the ceiling. I remember how deafening the silence was as I studied the artwork. It became a surreal moment which allowed me to have a chance to reflect. Find time to pause, unplug and reflect.
10. Asking for help is okay.
I figured once I got out to Europe I would have enough on my list to keep me busy, but I found the possibilities to be somewhat overwhelming. I decided to reach out on my Facebook to see if anyone would have suggestions. I was surprised to get a succinct list of suggestions, which proved to me that admitting you don't know what to do and asking for help is okay.
Neue Bop: Intentions (feat. Dan Caplen) by Macklemore
Macklemore just dropped his newest album GEMINI. Although the album as a whole lacks a certain cohesiveness, Macklemore's experimentation and poignant lyrics carry you throughout the album. My favourite tracks are 5. Intentions feat. Dan Caplen and his track with Kesha, 6. Good Old Days. If you don't get through the whole album, listen to those two tracks!