Traveling Alone: How It Changed My Life

Traveling Alone: How It Changed My Life

Traveling alone as a woman sounds scary. I recently took my second solo trip. This time, instead of internationally traveling alone, I took a domestic trip to the Pacific Northwest to Seattle. I ate by myself. I went to the club by myself. I walked 29 miles uphill and down by myself.

And you know what, traveling alone was the best experience I’ve ever had. Partially because Seattle was one of the best places to travel alone and partially because it helped me discover a lot about myself.

1. You Find Our What Makes You Sad, Happy and Awkward

When you are always around the same group of people and the same environment, you don’t always take a moment to realize what makes you really happy or sad.

When I first got to Seattle, I was happy at the airport – taking in the advertising of “best coffee” and seeing the faux fur embellishments on women’s jackets.

But then when I started exploring on my own, I noticed how everything surprised me. The anthropological side of me came out as I took in the scent of the forest, the drunk and high people climbing up the streets, the cream cheese that they put on their hot dogs and the wild beasts getting into a fight on the street.

While I liked exploring a new city, I realized that I felt uncomfortable and awkward. I acted like I didn’t belong. Like I was someone time traveling. So, after going into various bars and leaving, I went to a waffle bar at 11:30 pm and sat and read my book. I felt like myself again.

I also learned that I liked getting up early and going on an adventure all day and coming home tired at night. I stopped and found what gave me joy like getting my nails done, being on a ferry, or climbing up a hill and sitting in the forest overlooking the city.

2. You Take The Time To Enjoy The Moment

When you are traveling, especially for two days, you want to experience everything. So, you rush. But on this solo trip, I did everything I wanted to do and I stopped and enjoyed the moment.

I was walking to Oriental Park because I love modern art. But then, I saw the sunshine coming thru and followed it to a gorgeous park. And it was there that i discovered one of the most amazing views of Seattle. I didn’t realize how much feeling the sun on my skin would make me so happy.

3. You Discover What You Like To Eat

Whenever you travel, you have the opportunity to try new foods. Though I was in Seattle and I couldn’t wait to have a good cup of coffee, I discovered that I don’t like macchiatos, I like hot apple cider. But, I’ve always been one to be indecisive about coffee. 

And then I wanted sea food. My friend had traveled to Seattle and she mentioned the amazing seafood. So, I went and found a good restaurant on an island because there were no ferries to West Seattle. So, my seafood hunt ended when I sat and ate crab risotto. While it was fancy and well-prepared, I didn’t really like crab risotto.

My favorite meal of the entire trip was hot apple cider and butternut squash and kale quiche in a Seattle coffee shop.

4. You Become Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

One of the best parts about traveling alone is that you become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It took a lot for me to sit at a restaurant and eat. I found it boring. I felt like I had to be super interested in a book or my phone.  And then I realized that it was okay to eat alone. Mostly I found that sitting all by myself in a restaurant is not fun and it’s not something I like to do. I’m okay with drinking alone, but for the most part, I like sharing my life with others – which is why I love dinner parties so much.

But it was other things. Like I love taking photographs, but I’m always embarrassed that I take so many and that they are out of focus. It took an entire day, but the next day, I felt not only comfortable traveling alone, but comfortable with myself. I didn’t feel judged for playing in the water fountain or helping a man hang Christmas lights, or listening to rap music as I contoured and highlighted my face. 

Not only did I find out what I love doing but I actually enjoyed doing it because I stopped giving people power over me to judge me. Yes, I’m alone. Yes, I’m walking. Yes, I’m excited about this cup of coffee. And for the first time, I didn’t hide my emotion or become self-conscious. I just let myself live and enjoy.

5. You Do What You’ve Always Wanted

When you are in a new city by yourself, you get to be impulsive. You get to stop and take the tour and learn some history about the city. You get to stop for a cup of coffee or a danish. You get to stop at the book store and explore all of those books you never thought you would enjoy.

When you are traveling alone, it’s okay if you wake up at 6 am to read The New York Times. It’s okay to go home when you’re tired even if it’s 9 pm.

6. You Feel Empowered and Inspired

But most importantly, you realize that your life is inspiring and amazing. When I’m with other people, I always think they are doing things better than me and I’m doing everything wrong. I know it’s crazy to walk everywhere, but that’s what I felt like doing.

I haven’t been inspired to write in a long time, and this trip helped me realize that it’s okay to have passions and pursue them even though you may not be perfect or may not know how things might turn out. So, I’ve started writing again and being published again. 

So, it’s not that I couldn’t do any of these things in Chicago, where I live. Because I live alone and go to events alone all of the time, but it’s that when I was traveling alone, I was put in a new environment, that helped me discover different aspects about myself.

That’s what traveling does – it helps you find your place. It helps you find out who you are and do it on purpose. Of course travel with friends – I love traveling with friends, but I’m really glad that I took this trip to Seattle alone.

I do think it’s important to take some time for yourself to find out things about yourself when you travel alone.

Don’t forget these traveling tips for your first or next solo adventure.

Amanda Whitfield
Amanda Whitfield

Amanda Whitfield is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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