The art of travelling by yourself

Spoiler alert: none of these tips involve meeting new people.

Step 1: Come to terms with the fact that sometimes travelling sucks.

There’s bad weather, Airbnb listings that end up being scams, low batteries, or some things just aren’t as fun as you imagined. This is true whether you are alone or with company. When you’re with someone and bad stuff happens, it might be easier to laugh it off, but it still sucks.

It rained when I was in Sarnia and when I was in Cleveland. Not fun.

Once you get over the idea that you must have fun at all times while travelling, everything gets easier because the pressure to have fun is gone.

Step 2: Ask yourself if you can do that thing, by yourself with no internet access, for at least one hour. 

There’s nothing like travelling by yourself that helps you learn what you love to do. REALLY love to do. When you are with someone, your interactions can easily trick you into believing you like doing something, when it’s really the company that you enjoy.

Find out what you love and do more of that.

For example, I love museums, but they are way more fun with company. If a museum is out of the way, I won’t put in that much effort to visit one. Wandering on the street and seeing shops is great, but I’d much rather spend more time in nature if I’m by myself.

Step 3: Know where you can get an instant mood booster. 

This is important especially if you are subject to mood swings. Sometimes I end up feeling down for no reason on a trip, which doesn’t help, and that’s where these mood boosters come in.

Not the first, last or most beautiful sunset. But I was in Detroit alone and it was beautiful. That’s enough.

Nothing cheers me up faster than a quick drive with windows down, or a walk along the river, a chocolate pastry, a good cup of coffee, etc. The key is to keep that list in your mind and make sure they are easy to access when you are out and about.

Step 4: Understand the goal behind your trip and stay true to it.

Is this a trip to getaway from your stress? Or is it a trip to learn about the culture of a new city? Plan your events accordingly and it’ll help you feel focused, and not like you’re just wandering pointlessly.

Get real used to asking strangers to take photos of you. Sometimes you might have to ask a second stranger.

If you prioritize food, make sure your days are filled with good restaurants and cafes. If you prioritize nature, fill your days up with that. If it means sacrificing a “must-see” spot, so be it. Plan everything for what you want to see, not what other people expect you to see. It’s not a loss if it doesn’t make you happy.

I used to get really stressed if I don’t end up hitting all the spots that are well-known, but I’ve realized that just doesn’t work anymore.

Nothing like food that fogs up your camera.

Sometimes I just want to sit by the river for a whole hour to read a book. Can I do that at home? Yes, but the river in a foreign place is different. That’s good enough.

Step 5: Go ahead and laugh. 

Sing by yourself, discuss your thoughts in your head (or aloud), laugh at your dumb mistakes — basically travel as if you are with someone.

You have to spend the rest of your life by yourself. The one relationship you have complete control over is the one with yourself. So be nice.

I laughed so much while trying to take a jumping photo. Here’s one of the bad takes (I had no good takes).

It’s not sad to be by yourself, nor is it lonely, nor is it boring — at least not inherently.

Open your heart to the idea of being by yourself and get to know who you are. You are perfectly good company.

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