It has been over two weeks since Spring Break, and a part of me is still adjusting to the cold and dreaded routine after spending a week in Austin, Tex. When we picture Spring Break, the first images that emerge in our minds often follow a certain theme. They tend to revolve around chilling in a summery location with friends while having the time of our lives and making memories that we can laugh over later. I spent a part of my break exploring a new city like many, but I was all by myself. As someone who usually loves being around people, be them friends or family, especially when in unknown territories, this was a new venture. I am so glad that I did not pass up the opportunity.
There were moments where I wished I was with my friends, as there would have been so much more I could do, especially when I would cross groups of friends and families having a great time together. But as the days passed, I realized that being alone was an adventure in itself. It pushed me to try things I wouldn’t try before because there was no one else to voice their opinion. I had to be decisive and impulsive. What started out as uncertainty about how much I could enjoy the time by myself became a bittersweet feeling as the day ended, as I truly was able to explore the city and more importantly spend time with myself — something I do not do nearly enough at college.
I am now of the belief that exploring a city all by yourself allows you to truly get an authentic feel of the place without trying to complete a checklist that satisfies a group. I was in Austin without any particular itinerary, and I had absolute freedom to roam the streets without feeling the need to go to six different places in one day. While I did do some of the things expected from a tourist like visit the Capitol building, I also spent time observing the latest art show at the Contemporary and having a coffee at one of the local cafes hidden in rows of office buildings. I interacted with people I had never met before. Many of us hesitate when it comes to doing something alone — especially traveling — but this one short experience reduced this apprehension. It does not mean that I am 100 percent prepared to doing things by myself all the time, but solo travel lends a sense of confidence that is rarely found elsewhere.
Traveling alone does not need to equate being introspective and reflective as one explores a new place. Instead, for me, it was just a time to wind down, a time where I did not have to think about what others want, but what was driving my own experience. It required me to be accountable for my own decisions and actions, leaving no space for me to blame anyone had it not turned out the way I hoped. At the same time, it was a great opportunity for me to prioritize myself, not only in terms of my work or goals, but also in regard to having fun. All of us are aware of the importance of self care especially considering the plethora of other factors that now influence and even complicate our lives, but often that awareness gets lost in translation.
In conclusion, the feeling of achievement that I had at the end of my day when I looked back at all that I did is probably my strongest reason for advocating solo travel. The sense of independence that I got from this trip reminded me that I don’t have to wait for others the next time I want to explore something be it a place, a restaurant or an art exhibit. I might not have gotten the typical spring break Instagram pictures or have stories that my friends and I could laugh over in the future, but I do have a lingering sense of happiness from the time I spent with me.