The Taj Mahal sparkled in the half-light of dawn. My eyes widened. The sight was more than marvelous. It was mystical. The cells in my body pulsed with a feeling I couldn’t name.
I inhaled. Exhaled. Smiled, my face turned up to the rising sun. Beside me were couples, tour groups, smatterings of conversations in different languages. But it was just me, the Taj Mahal, and a tiny feeling of pride trickling through my veins.
Before I had come to Agra, I had heard the concerned warnings of friends and family: You’ll be bored. You’ll be lonely. Will you be safe?
But here I was—safe, content, and feeling perfectly in tune with the Universe—and myself.
Since then, I’ve traveled solo a lot, despite the fact that I have plenty of family and friends who are more than willing to come along. I’m also lucky to have a loving partner who shares my passion for travel and is always willing to board a plane, train, automobile, or camel’s back at the drop of a dime. Still, I thoroughly enjoy traveling alone (I’m doing a massive solo trip through Europe in May, and I’d love for you to follow along on Instagram!). I believe that everyone should take a big solo trip at least once. Here’s why:
Solo Travel Cranks Up Your Confidence
When you travel by yourself, the planning and decision making are all up to you. While the responsibility can be intimidating (in India, where chaos reigns supreme, it was intense), it’s also rewarding. For example, when I traveled around the world last summer (hitting eight countries on four continents), I took great pride in the fact that I had planned my own itinerary, all by myself, even though it was super complicated. Being the sole engineer of your travel experiences can bolster the spirit and boost the confidence like nothing else.
Solo Travel Lets You Be Selfish
A solo vacation means you can do what you want, when you want, without having to consider the wants or needs of a travel companion, and this can be empowering in and of itself. In Agra, I was super indulgent—I splurged on a nice hotel, spent hours stuffing my face at the city’s best restaurants, and luxuriated in the sights, sounds, and smells of one of India’s most historic cities. I could spend an afternoon on a single block, I never had to check in to see if anyone else was enjoying the experience as much as me. Not only was it amazing in the moment, but it was superb practice for self-care back home. After all, when life is overwhelming, there’s nothing better than tuning into what you need.
The Solo Traveler Makes Incredible, Life-Changing Connections
It’s a travel fact: When you’re by yourself, you make way more connections than you do when you have a partner. At least that’s what I’ve found. Solo, I’m much more willing to start up conversations with locals and travelers in markets, temples, and everywhere in between. Even though I will never forget the sight of the Taj Mahal in the sunrise, the memories that come back to me most from that trip are the small, impromptu conversations I had with total strangers.
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