Now that summer is fast approaching, some of you may be looking for ways to spend these sunny days. For those who have an empty summer ahead of you: congratulations. For those who already have travel plans: try to hold off on telling us unfortunates every exciting detail of your upcoming vacation. It gets old quickly for folks, like me, stuck in Gainesville: attending classes, working or otherwise unable to travel to exotic locales.
If you have the time and funds, I would heartily suggest traveling. Don’t think by traveling I automatically mean going on a cruise to a Caribbean island or hopping on a plane to spend a month backpacking in Europe. Any trip, big or small, counts even if it is a road trip to visit your grandparents in Georgia.
With that disclaimer out of the way, the following advice is for those planning to travel this summer. Go solo.
Now within reason, of course. I’m not saying to close your eyes, throw a dart at a world map and go where it lands. Make sure to thoroughly research where you are going, how you are going to get there, your accommodations and all your relevant tickets.
Solo traveling will seem daunting at first. I mean traveling by yourself on a plane, train or any other kind of transportation will seem scary at first. The distance from home (especially if traveling outside the U.S.) will add to your anxiety. Don’t worry, it will be temporary. You will look back on your journey with pride at your accomplishment of going alone and fondness at all the fun you had.
Still not convinced? Let me give some first-hand experience.
My senior year of high school a group of teachers organized a senior trip to Europe. It was not my first trip outside the U.S., but it was my first trip to Europe and my first where I was unaccompanied by parents. I was excited but a little nervous. The nerves came from the thought of traversing Europe alone. Well, as alone as you can get with a couple of teachers as chaperones and at least 10 of my classmates traveling with me.
I didn’t expect to enjoy traveling solo as much as I did. It was liberating! I felt like an adult for the first time. I ate what I wanted, bought what I wanted and explored where I wanted with no parent hovering over me. The best part was nothing happened to me. Obviously this is due to the presence of chaperones and being in a group, however, I have traveled completely by myself in a foreign country before and still nothing happened to me. Nothing bad automatically happens to you when you travel by yourself.
There are more things to gain by traveling solo that far outweigh the possible (note: not concrete or automatically going to happen!) negatives. You gain independence. You might meet cool people along the way. You get to explore what you want, when you want without worries about the rest of your traveling companions. You’re free to eat what you want without a parent looking disapprovingly at the McDonald’s chicken nuggets you just had to try (yes, I know they taste exactly same, but it’s about the novelty of eating them while in a foreign country!).
Take my advice. The next trip you go on, travel by yourself. You won’t regret it. You might even learn something new, like how mussels are delicious or how Germany is so beautiful you just must come back.
Stay safe and happy travels!