Travel: Adventuring Alone
A few months ago, I lay away at night, restlessly tossing and turning as I processed my life, my dreams and fears. As someone who grew up living abroad and has traveled my entire life, the last 2 years had left me stuck. I was in a rut with work, educational goals, relationships, spirituality… I needed some fresh perspective. I remember deciding that night, probably around 3am, that I was going to go on a trip. It didn’t matter the cost/details/location/timing – I was going to do whatever I had to in order to make it work. I specifically remembering googling “safe places for women to travel alone” and as soon as I saw Copenhagen listed, I knew that’s where I was headed.
I was in a rut with work, educational goals, relationships, spirituality… I needed some fresh perspective.
Fast forward a few weeks, I was relentlessly searching airplane ticket prices, potential Airbnbs, and itinerary plans until it came to the point where I simply had to commit. Now thankfully, I had my parent’s full support, although, to be honest, I don’t think I ever really asked for permission (being well-traveled themselves and understanding the way in which they raised me, they were just as excited for me as I was for myself!). Now when it came to everyone else, I got a lot of mixed reactions. I actually didn’t tell most people – I find that people respond somewhat oddly to hearing peoples travel plans (especially when it’s to somewhere completely foreign). But when it did come up, many asked, “Why Copenhagen? What are you even going to do there?” In those moments, I swallowed my fear and pride and would respond with, “I’m not completely sure. I’ll figure it out!” Sometimes, admitting you don't have a plan is the bravest thing you can do. I intentionally chose to not go to a tourist hotspot where all my days would be filled; instead, I sought out a culture that fascinated me, where I could spend my days in quaint cafes, perusing museums and parks and a few historical sites. A few weeks later, off I went!
Sometimes admitting you don’t have a plan is the bravest thing you can do.
I flew to New York first, where I spent the weekend, then went on to Copenhagen for the next full week. While I won’t post full itineraries on here (be on the lookout for city-guides soon!), I will say that I spent my days simply wandering the cities. I rode subways, buses, metros, ferries, Ubers, rented a bike for a few days in CPH, and still ended up walking a TON. I can’t quite put into words how liberating it is to explore a new place by yourself – you get to decide what you like to do, where you want to go, if you want to eat now or later, when to take a break. Along with that also come moments of almost paralyzing fear and anxiety.
Especially when abroad, it takes time to adjust to being so disconnected. I didn’t have cell service so unless I stopped somewhere with Wi-Fi, I was walking around on my own. What a weird sensation it is, knowing that literally no one knows where you are and what you’re doing, and you couldn’t tell them or ask them for help if you wanted to. Spending copious amounts of time alone also has some interesting effects – I definitely got lonely at times, but I also got to know myself deeper than probably ever before. People always say cheesy things about how important it is to “fall in love with yourself” and I’ve always somewhat brushed that off, but it’s incredibly true!! While traveling alone, I learned to love my own company. I discovered what I need in order to be in a healthy mental state. I learned how to define myself, detached from anything familiar. I learned to trust myself and my ability to make wise decisions and keep myself safe.
I learned to love my own company.
I ate at sit-down restaurants and simply enjoyed every bite, letting go of the fear of looking “pathetic” to everyone else (no one actually cares at all). It was challenging, empowering, exciting, freeing, threatening and stabilizing, all at the same time. So… for anyone considering it, I say, go for it!!