Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Contributor
When I graduated high school, one of the first things I did was book a trip to a festival in NYC. At 18 years old, I had never really travelled anywhere except with my family and I was definitely not ready to go alone, so I begged my sister to come and she agreed. Quickly our NYC trip approached, we boarded our train and three hours later we were dumped into the center of The Big Apple. It was liberating.
I had been to NYC before, but something about being in the city with no supervision and no one to rely on except ourselves was fascinating. So when we ended up taking the wrong subway and found that our hotel was located in the center of Chinatown, I chalked it up as a learning experience and moved on.
That trip kick-started my obsession with travelling and slowly I booked more trips: small day trips to Boston and other local places until I finally decided to move to Orlando, FL, completely on my own, for almost an entire year. The biggest thing I learned while being in Orlando was that being comfortable alone can be your biggest strength. That’s why I decided that this summer, I’ll be embarking on a two-week long trip to Europe by myself with nothing except for a backpack and my iPhone.
Telling people this usually gets mixed reactions– some tell me stories about the time they went to Europe, while others shoot me sympathetic looks and ask me if I want someone to come with me. The last reaction is the most common and the answer is no, I don’t want someone to tag along.
Even in my small trips, I have found that travelling alone is arguably the most immersive way to travel. You’re forced to pull yourself away from your normal life and soak up the culture of the city you’re in. Another one of the perks of travelling solo is that you have complete control over everything. From finances to deciding where to eat lunch, no one else’s opinion matters except yours.
There’s really nothing more incredible than waking up in another city with no one to please but yourself. I choose to travel solo because it makes me feel free and has made me so much more sure of myself. I believe that the ability to spend time with oneself is so essential to mental health, and solo travel can help build that. You learn how to become your own best friend and find that you’re never truly alone. Even if you don’t know anyone, there are always opportunities to meet people and branch out.
The last reason I choose to solo travel is because of something I learned in Orlando: the single rider line at Disney World is ALWAYS shorter than the regular line, and honestly, that’s all the convincing I need.