My parents met at a youth hostel in Switzerland. Travel is the very reason that I’m alive on this earth. And solo travel is considered a rite of passage in my family.
Before my first solo trip, I spent hours on Pinterest trying to gain some insight on cities around the world. I read blog post after blog post, written by women who had taken months, years off to travel the world. Alone.
The minute I graduated from college, I bought a one-way ticket to Munich. After 3 months of working at a summer camp to save up funds, I kissed my boyfriend goodbye at Newark Airport and boarded an airplane to the unknown. I thought the next three months were going to be a breeze. People would be throwing themselves at me to get to know the cool, hip, solo California girl.
But what I learned is that solo traveling is not easy. It’s like really freaking hard, actually.
The next three months were made up of days where I met awesome people and went on awesome adventures and other days where I cried alone in the hostel laundry room (true story). But I didn’t return home without learning a few things.
1. Not every day will be an Insta-worthy moment.
So you see glamorous pictures of your friend sitting on a camel in Morocco or a picture of a young woman smiling on top of Macchu Picchu on The Blonde Abroad and you think, “Man their lives are so great. I want my life to be that great.” Yes, you too will have those moments. By the end of your trip, your Instagram is sure to be full of #wanderlust. BUT those moments will come alongside moments of boredom, sadness, and loneliness — moments when you will want nothing more than to just up and leave for home.
In such moments, remember that nobody wants to show anything but happiness and perfection on their social media accounts. Minutes after your friend posted a camel photo in Morocco, that camel probably spit in her face and she cried about it.
Not every day is going to be the best day of your life. In fact, some are gonna be pretty shitty. But there are sure to be a few gems in there. So, when the opportunity arises, don’t hold back. Just #doitforthegram.
2. You will be lonely.
Unless you wear a neon sign on your chest that says “talk to me please” at all times, people will not flock to you like you are the next Messiah. You have to go out there and start the conversation. And still, there will be days where you have to eat dinner by yourself and that’s okay.
Maybe at dinner alone is when you post pictures of yourself and the food you’re eating and tell the world that you’re having a good time. At least that’s what I did.
3. But it will all be #worthit.
If you have managed to get through this article and you still don’t have a bad taste in your mouth about solo travel, then congrats. Buy your ticket now. Solo travel is a mixed bag and don’t let your friend’s glamor beach shots tell you differently.
The ten days that you spent crying in the hostel laundry room will be worth that one day when you spontaneously hop a 6 AM flight to Bucharest with eight strangers and drink the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted (another true story).
This article originally appeared on Medium. It is republished here with permission.
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