Traveling Alone

Whether it is a quick trip to Quebec City, or a long flight to London, England for a week during the summer, traveling alone is one of the most important things you’ll ever do, especially in your 20s. Recently, I told my friends and family that I will be spending Reading Week in Paris. The first question everyone asked was the same: Who are you going with? When I told them I was going alone, their reactions varied from “Wow, you’re so brave” to “That’s so scary! I could never do that!” I have been privileged to do quite a lot of travelling at a young age, both alone and with others, and I have learned that sometimes, the best travel companion you can have is yourself. Here are a few reasons why:

1) It makes trip planning easier. Think of it this way: I have limited time and money, so why not customize my trip to my personal preferences so that I can maximize my satisfaction? – I won’t have to worry about conflicting opinions from my friends about where to go, what to eat or what time to wake up. I can visit Le Louvre, have a nice lunch at a café, head back to my hotel for a quick nap, then visit the Eiffel Tower in the evening before ending my day with dinner at a beautiful Bistro! Why not?! I am the master of my own itinerary.

2) Enjoy some ‘Me Time’. It is sometimes necessary to escape the stress of McGill and the all-too familiar streets of the McGill Ghetto. Traveling to Paris gives me the opportunity to retreat into a nice quiet zone for some much-needed alone time! Traveling alone is a liberating experience and gives you time for self-reflection. You learn to be comfortable with yourself and truly enjoy being in your own skin. You learn how to keep yourself sane in a 6+ hour flight with no leg room. You learn more about your likes and dislikes. Overall, it truly gives you the chance to step back from your everyday reality to think about your life goals and direction.

3) It builds self-confidence. Being in a completely new environment is daunting. My French is not the best and I get shy whenever I have to speak, but while in Paris, I will be forced to let go of my inhibitions and communicate with people in French in order to get by. That in itself is sure to boost my self-confidence. I will learn to approach people in order to ask for directions, and hold my head up high when dining alone at a restaurant (which some people are terrified of). Traveling alone will give me the chance to assume full responsibility for myself, and let me know that I can do anything I want, if I just set my mind to it! It is very empowering to navigate a whole different culture by yourself!

4) Meet new people. Traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. It just means you have the liberty to try new things. Whereas when traveling with friends or family, you forgo this freedom and tend to stick to your group without much of an incentive to venture out and meet new people. But how are you fully immersing yourself in the culture if you refuse to interact with its people? While in Paris, I intend to try new things and make new friends. With my heightened sense of confidence, I am hoping this will be an easy task.I will definitely have to be cautious and aware of potential dangers, but meeting new people just serves as a reminder that the world is a much nicer place we might be made to believe.

All in all, I am beyond excited for my upcoming trip to Paris! I will keep you posted! Check back in March for stories from my trip! I encourage all of you to embark on a similar journey too! Your adventure awaits!


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