This post originally appeared on Inspirer.
There comes a time when you can become so obsessed with an adventure or visiting a place that you’ll do anything to make it happen. For me, that city was Paris. When the opportunity arose to make this trip a reality, all my friends and potential travel companions had other plans. With slight trepidation, I did the unthinkable: I took myself to Paris.
The more people questioned and expressed surprise at my travel plans, the more confident I became that it was an experience I wanted to have. I would explore the most romantic city on earth, alone. Who knew that I would fall in love with solo travel in the process?
It can be daunting at first, but traveling by yourself is an incredibly eye-opening opportunity that every woman should experience in her lifetime. Here’s why:
It’s an opportunity for self-reflection.
Not having anyone traveling with you equals a lot of time to think. This can be terrifying for some; research has shown that most people prefer to endure electric shocks rather than sit alone with their own thoughts. Once you get over the initial shock of not being constantly engaged with another person, you have the opportunity to reflect. You may be surprised by how much you can learn about yourself when you’re not trying to keep up with someone else.
You can do what you want.
When you travel solo, your day belongs to you and you alone. Want to sleep in? Awesome, no one’s waiting on you to get going. I loved the freedom to stop when I felt like it or to enjoy the Eiffel Tower for a second or third time. When I became tired halfway through the Musee d’Orsay, I stopped to recharge in the cafe for an hour before finishing the rest of the museum. That kind of freedom and flexibility only comes when you’re by yourself.
You get a huge sense of accomplishment.
Traveling alone means you’re in charge of everything: planning, execution and problem-solving. It’s true that this can be quite an undertaking, and I definitely felt a bit overwhelmed at times. However, the challenge breeds a massive sense of accomplishment as well as confidence in yourself and your abilities. I never thought I could navigate a strange city where I didn’t speak the language, but here I am writing about it!
Connect more authentically with others.
When you’re alone, you become more open and aware of the people around you. You may not understand the barista serving your coffee, but you can give them a big smile and do your best not to butcher “Thank you” in their language. Chatting with the people at your lodging or going on a walking tour and meeting fellow adventurers from around the world suddenly become a priority because they offer the chance to connect with the humans around you.
It’s a chance to break stereotypes.
Whether it’s other people telling you that you can’t do it or the voice in the back of your head, there’s an idea that women shouldn’t and can’t travel alone. The fact is that you can and you will! Don’t miss out on amazing life experiences just because you don’t have someone to go with. Don’t wait for the perfect time or the right guy to come along to take you to the city you’ve been dreaming of seeing. Just go, enjoy and prove to yourself and others that you capable and proud to be independent.