I was not mentally prepared for the amount of fun I was going to have when I went traveling by myself recently. It all happened because my brother couldn’t come with me on a trip and had to cancel at the last second. I had a choice: I could let that stop me or go it alone. With the encouragement from my husband, I chose to go solo and booked the hotel. My heart jumped, and I felt a mixture of excitement and dread.

One of my biggest fears is getting lost. It will render me useless if I can’t find my way back from a place. The same will happen if I can’t find a place. I’ve even been known to give up and turn back to a familiar setting. I’ll use my logic for as long as I can to retrace my steps, but my pulse will quicken. When I feel that terror grip me, it’s very difficult to come back from it. I’ve had to pull over to the side of a road because of a panic attack.

That’s why traveling by myself became such an important choice—because I knew I’d be facing my fear. Luckily, with the invention of smartphones, I have come to rely on the power of Siri to send me down the right path.

I booked all my favorite things to do on the trip, and to my amazement, I didn’t have a single dull moment. There was a sense of contentment I never experienced in my own introversion. I visited museums for my stimulation, and if I spent too much time in the crowds, I’d find the ocean. The sound of the crashing waves reenergized me as I sat alone in the stillness and breeze. The quiet time I spent alone helped ground me in the moment.

My advice to those who decide to travel for pleasure by themselves is to enjoy every experience. Some of my favorite parts of the trip were simply sitting in a coffee shop as everyone else rushed around me. I could sit there with my coffee, watching people within the bustle of their day, and be completely content. Make sure to have a list of the things you enjoy and want to do the most. Cultural events and museums are on the top of my to-do list at any place I visit.

And don’t forget to listen to your body and your mind that will always tell you when to explore and when to retreat from the crowds. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with random locals and to disengage from them when you need to. This is your opportunity to do everything you’ve always wanted to at this location. Your travel time is precious, and you need to savor it while it lasts.

By the end of my vacation, I wished it was the beginning so I could stay longer. I have another solo trip planned, and I am incredibly excited about the prospect of having new adventures. That discovery I made during my first trip about my ability to not just travel alone but to love it is something I’ll never forget.

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