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Travel Solo Because #Euronlyoungonce

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Nishima Gupta

2015-10-09-1444409313-1154873-Untitled.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-09-1444409313-1154873-Untitled.png "The most dangerous risk of all: The risk spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later." - Alan Watts
A few months ago, I booked my first solo trip to Europe. The reactions were all the same, "Who are you going with?" "Alone? Are you crazy?" "There's no way I would ever do that." I guess the thought of living like a nomad for a month seemed ridiculous, but so did the thought of not going when I had the chance.
A year ago, I would have never imagined going on a backpacking trip through Europe alone. But time changes everything. Time changes who we are as individuals, and things you could not imagine yourself doing, suddenly become your intended reality.
This past year allowed me to realize my reality -- A reality in which I refuse to be afraid of taking chances or due to fear walking alone. I surprised myself when I realized my capabilities. After my 30-day trek through 11 cities, I could not be more thankful for the things I have learned, the places I have seen, the stories I can tell, and the new friends I have made.

This is dedicated to those nervous about venturing off into the unknown alone. I hope my unsolicited life advice pushes you to take the plunge and just go.

1. This experience is more valuable than your most expensive pair of shoes. (SERIOUSLY)
Experience over material always. Possessions have limited value and will eventually be replaced or broken. Experience is everlasting. You will have those memories forever and NO ONE can take that from you.
2. Getting out of your comfort zone makes for a healthier, happier you.
I cannot begin to stress how important it is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable gives you a stronger understanding of yourself. In our comfort zones we tend to become complacent. Stepping out allows us to dive deeper into other cultures and into ourselves. Traveling alone is the golden ticket to challenging yourself. Living in hostels, spending time with people whose first language wasn't English, physically reading a paper map to get from Point A to Point B - this is how I saw the world, this is how I grew. You meet people who couldn't care less about getting likes on a selfie, but instead value true human connection, and they are the HAPPIEST.
3. Making friends from around the world is a beautiful gift.
How cool is it to have friends in different countries that you can visit? For example, I found my long-lost soul sister in my hostel in Paris. We ended up traveling together. Now, I plan to visit her in Peru for my next adventure. Here is the thing about traveling alone - you are never really alone. You meet incredible people who want to share stories and go places together. These become the most rewarding friendships and it is worth keeping them.
4. Solo time is the best time.
Living in a world full of digital distractions and connections, it can be hard to realize how necessary it is to recharge your human battery. Sometimes these distractions can make people forget what positive effects time alone can have on a person. After your solo travel, you tend to care less about what people think of you. Trust me when I say: you don't need your friends for everything. Your relationship with yourself will always be the most important relationship in your life. Traveling alone allows you to take a break from your day-to-day routine, breathe and spend quality time getting to know yourself.
For example, I used to need things to happen on my time and for there to always be a plan, but backpacking helped me hakuna my tatas and learn to let it be. This tends to happen when you fly into Spain at midnight and have to get yourself from the airport to your hostel all on your own - you learn to thrive in tough situations. You learn to embrace the things you found intimidating, and everyone could benefit from a self-esteem boost like that.
5. You never come back the way you left.
Your vibe, your perspective of people and the world, what you think of yourself, it all changes. You then carry this growth with you as you return home and refuse to fall back into old habits. You become almost overwhelmed with how fearless and confident you are, and you deserve to feel like a badass. I honestly believe traveling alone is the only way to understand what I mean.
6. You really can afford it.
You do not have to make a ton of money to make this happen. If traveling is important to you, you WILL find a way. If you have plans to backpack, realize that you have to learn to be a low-maintenance traveler. (You can live without the Louis Vuitton bag.) I managed my life for a month with four outfits and two pairs of shoes, and honestly, I cannot travel any other way now. Be easy and keep it simple. Choose wisely of your destinations, indulge in the amazing street food, experience the culture - do as the locals do. It is cheaper and much more enjoyable. If you are on a budget, do a little planning - research the cheapest places to travel, the cost of transportation between cities, check out the hostels, what affordable activities are nearby. If you put your mind to it, you can make it work.
7. You live life on your own terms.
It gets easy to get caught up in an itinerary a friend or group may have planned. When you travel alone, you get to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want. You go at your own pace. There were times throughout my Europe trip when I skipped the museums or tourist attractions because I found something more enjoyable for myself. You only have so much time given to explore so spend that time doing the things that make you think and allow you to truly cherish life. You have the freedom to see and do what interests you and to be open to discovering new interests.
8. Your 20's really are your selfish years.
You may not have your life figured out, and you do not have to. This is the beauty of being a 20-something. Be selfish and live it up. Grow, grow, grow and do not wait on anyone. YOU make your own happiness and your own dreams. Allow this realization to motivate you, and in turn, motivate those around you. The world can always use more inspiration.

It can be scary traveling alone, but growing old without having experienced everything you wanted to get out of life should be even scarier. It is important to gain valuable experience that will last forever. Find what makes you happy. Make new friends and get out of your comfort zone. Take the time to meet yourself and take note of the changes when you return. Take advantage of the freedom that comes with traveling alone. Personal growth is the biggest reward.
Whether it is a weekend, a month, or a year - travel, as much as you can, as far as you can, for as long as you can. Life's not meant to be lived in one place.

#Euronlyoungonce, so go see the world.

TRAVELING SOLO © lzf via Getty Images TRAVELING SOLO

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