The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” As a study-abroad alum who has been bitten by the travel bug, I can attest to the life-changing rewards that traveling entails — especially solo traveling. Although some might think that traveling without family or friends is daunting, it strengthens your independence and opens your mind in ways that nothing else ever could. Once you’ve finally decided to study abroad or treat yourself to a mini-vacation, your anxieties will heighten along with your excitement. Every first-time solo traveler could use some tips to keep the nerves at bay.
First and foremost, always be alert. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, don’t assume that you’ll be safe walking with your eyes on your phone and your headphones blasting music, no matter how often you’ve done it in your hometown. Pay attention to your surroundings, because traveling alone means you won’t have someone to keep an extra pair of eyes out for you.
With that said, keep in mind that traveling comes with the possibility of something not going according to plan. To make the most out of your trip even when things go wrong, it’s important to maintain an open mind and not panic. Put away the map and let yourself wander a bit. Always keep a positive perspective and use the element of unpredictability as an opportunity to open yourself to new and exciting adventures.
When you let yourself get lost, you’ll end up asking for directions at some point, so try getting to know the locals along the way. Of course, use your discretion and be wary of suspicious people, but once you converse with those who welcome you to the place they call home, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the community that you’re in.
Most importantly, be fully present in the moment. Don’t think about what you have left to do and don’t even think about what you’re going to do tomorrow. Put down your phone and free your mind from all your concerns. Whether you’re in a foreign city, state or country, maximize your five senses to immerse yourself in your environment as much as you can. After all, the only guarantee you have in life is now.
Contact Claudia Marie Huynh at [email protected].