As many of you know, I spent five days this past week alone in Punta Cana. I wrote last week about all the benefits of doing things on your own, and I want to take this time to share more about my experience and if it lived up to all the benefits I spoke about in my previous post.
The biggest benefit of traveling alone, in my opinion, is that you can do whatever you want to do and make your own schedule. I woke up early, grabbed breakfast at the buffet, snagged a great spot on the beach right near the ocean just above where the waves crashed on the shore, and took out my book for the day. I loved that I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted to do it, without having to coordinate schedules with anyone else.
I talked a lot in my last post about getting in touch with your emotions when you do things on your own. I still believe that to be true, but I found that what helped me get most in touch with my emotions was putting my phone away. There were moments when I was checking social media and I thought to myself… I don’t really feel like I’m taking the time to disconnect and be alone like I need to. The times when my phone was tucked away or when I wasn’t within reach of a good WiFi signal, that’s when I was truly able to be with myself and my thoughts.
In my opinion, there’s nothing more peaceful than staring out into a large body of water. Finding that spot where it looks like the water drops off and the sky meets it, that’s the most peaceful experience for me. I could stare out into the open water for hours. And by traveling alone, I was able to!
Another thing I found refreshing was bonding with new people from all over the world who were intrigued by a 20-something sitting alone at the tiki bar, or reading a book with her feet dangling in the pool. I found similiarities and common interests with strangers, and we bonded over the smallest things!
Traveling alone also helps you gain independence, and grow your level of confidence. My friend Juliana Lefevre moved from Brazil to New York on her own right after turning 21. Going alone forced her to grow up quickly and become independent. “I take pride that I moved to the US all by myself. Before when I lived with my parents, I didn’t realize how much they did for me. Once I arrived here, I had to do everything on my own. It was tough, but also great because I gained so much self-confidence and learned what I like and don’t like, without being influenced by others.”
I completely agree with her from my experience traveling alone. I was able to participate in events I enjoyed. Yes, I absolutely sang two songs during karaoke night despite not knowing a single person at the resort… and I did compete in a drink-making contest at the pool deck, which I definitely lost. The level of confidence you feel when doing something fun on your own is such a thrill, and also such an important life lesson.
Now, for the difficult parts of traveling alone. You’re probably thinking: did you feel lonely? Was it weird eating alone? The answer to both of these questions is no. I didn’t feel lonely, because I was surrounded by people when I wanted to be, and was also able to head back to my room or be on my own. When I was eating dinner alone (I went to dinner with friends I made on my first night, but actually prefered eating alone, so I did that for the remainder of my trip), I noticed all the people around me were on their cell phones. It was ironic to see because even though they were in the company of a significant other or family members, they were ignoring those at their table and connecting with people online instead. So really, I was no different than they were.
Instead, I’ll tell you that the difficult parts were making sure I was in the right place at the right time. For example, if you’re traveling to a new place and you don’t know the airport well, give yourself extra time so you can get acclimated and ensure you’re prepared. Also, this goes without saying, but be aware of your surroundings and make eye contact with those around you so that they know you’re alert and confident.
Overall, the trip was a great experience where I came back feeling relaxed, recharged, and more confident in my ability to handle anything on my own. Oh, and also slightly sunburned 🙂 I’d definitely travel alone again, and recommend it to anyone who is thinking of giving it a try.
For those who are ready to travel alone, remember to enjoy your own company, be aware of your surroundings, stay calm and adapt to your environment as it changes (because situations will not always go according to plan), and be true to yourself. Just make the best out of every situation and you’ll have a great time!
Have you traveled alone before? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments!