For years, one of my best friends has been trying to convince me to travel abroad with her. She started talking about it in high school, but when you’re working off of minimum wage in retail, and your summers are spent with a second job as a camp counselor, it’s not really doable. Even in college, it felt like an impossible thing. Traveling abroad was easily a 2-3k expense when I was in college, and while that is totally manageable to me now, it was absolutely bonkers back then. And so, it begs the question, now that I’m making enough money that I can actually spend a few thousand on a trip abroad, why am I going alone?

Back in 2019, before the world fell apart, Jen & I decided that we were finally going to go abroad together. She’d still been consistently trying to convince me in the years following college, but I was being stubborn and saying that I still couldn’t afford it, and that I didn’t have the time for it. Of course I would choose the year before a pandemic to start planning my first ever trip abroad so that, when the scheduled trip in mid-March 2020 finally came around, it was smack in the middle of everything slowly being destroyed. We planned for a solid six or seven months, and I can so bring us right back to the week before the trip, saying that it was going to be okay, and then finally cancelling a few days before.

And it seemed like that was the end of it. We obviously went nowhere in 2020. I barely left the state, and, when I did, it was only up to Maine to visit Erin for a very lowkey weekend that both of us were nervous about. When 2021 started to roll around, Jen and I started floating the idea of planning the trip again, but things were still up in the air. I didn’t want to go without being vaccinated, and summer started to drift away until October was rolling around, and it was time for me to fly out to California for Sara’s baby shower. 2022 seemed like the best idea, and I was starting to get hyped up about the trip again until Jen & I realized that she would be in Germany for her school’s alternate spring break, and she was getting married in June while I was flying back out to Cali in December, so the whole year kind of disappeared.

But something had started to happen over the summer. A lot of my Massachusetts friends were busy most weekends or didn’t feel like hiking, and I watched the weeks go by until I finally said enough was enough, and I started hiking alone. I’d never done it before, but I was sick of not being able to go to the mountains just because my friends were busy. And this is absolutely no shade on them! This is actually kind of shade on myself for not making this decision sooner. Why was I waiting for other people to have availability so that I could enjoy my life? It was really starting to not make sense, so I just took matters into my own hands, and I think you can see where this is leading.

It was probably around September that I started to consider traveling abroad by myself. I’d been hiking by myself for a few weeks by then, and I was about to fly out to California by myself to meet someone I’d only ever talked to virtually, and I just–why was I still waiting? If I could do all these other things by myself, why was I going to watch 2022 pass me by, as I had the past two years, just waiting for someone to be available to see the world with me? My friends were busy, and I don’t really want a significant other, so that leaves me with me, and well, I’m the one that I have to live this life with, so vamos, right?

The responses I got to the “what if I went to Portugal by myself?” text were wildly varied. Erin fully channeled the energy I wanted with a “do it you won’t”, Sara was cautiously excited, but also mostly nervous, Jen went full cheerleader “YES QUEEN GET IT”, and my mom pleaded with me not to because two weeks in a country I’ve never been to on my first ever trip abroad? Yeah, sounds insane, but also, why not?

The trip was originally supposed to be a week. Let’s take it easy, I thought. We’ll slowly start seeing the world since I’m not going with someone who is very well-traveled and will be able to steer me in the right directions. But a week is a really small amount of time, and I would only be able to see the mainland, so I extended it to nine days so I could make a quick trip out to the Acores. But my great-grandfather is from Madeira, and was I really going to go to Portugal without visiting the village my family is from? That just seems dumb. So I finally pulled the trigger and said I was going for two weeks instead. Because why not?

That phrase has been my mantra for years now. Why not learn how to teach yoga? Why not fight for my financial worth at my job? Why not create boundaries with friends who were hurting me? Why not choose the life that I wanted to live? Why not? It’s the question that they asked when we said we wanted to go to the moon. Why would we do something so out there? Well, why not? I love that question. It opens the world in ways you’ve never imagined before, and it’s my favorite way to approach new situations.

If I don’t have anyone to travel with, why not go alone? Why not see the places that I’ve written about in my books, as well as see the village that I’m from? Why not try to conquer my fear of the ocean by kayaking a half mile into the open ocean, as well as taking an inter-island flight that’s going to scare me halfway to hell? Why not go somewhere that I’ve been dreaming about for years? Why not?

So I’m going to Portugal alone. Today is the last day of February, which means that, in eighteen days, I’m getting on a flight to Lisbon. I’ll be spending four days in Lisbon, Porto, Sao Miguel, and Madeira, and I am beside myself with excitement. And this isn’t the end! In 2023, I’m going to Scotland. In 2024, I’m going to Iceland. In 2025, I’m finally going to New Zealand. I’m going to see the world by myself because why not? If someone happens to come into my life along the way that wants to travel with me, great, but until then, I’m going to stop waiting for my life to start and start living it instead.

Vamos, Portugal!

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

8 replies on “Why I’m Traveling Alone

  1. Oh my gosh! This is my sign!!! I literally opened my notes app a night or two ago and here’s my bucket list:

    Thailand and Indonesia
    The UK: Scotland and England
    Western Europe (Part 1): France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium
    Western Europe (Part 2): Spain, Italy

    Basically, I have to ask myself, “If not now, when?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES YES YES! Do it!!! I just got so fed up with waiting for other people to have time for me, so why not just have time for myself? It’s our lives, so might as well live them to the fullest! I’m so excited to start a lifetime of adventure, and although I’m trying to stay present in Portugal, I am SO excited to be going to Scotland next year. And so happy for you that you’re planning a big, grand life, too! ❤

      Like

  2. This post has such a good energy! Honestly I need more of that why not? spirit in my life. I planned to go travelling when I finished college but it never happened, and now 4 years later I still haven’t gone anywhere further than the coast. I spent my teenage years dreaming about the tattoos I would get once I turned 18, and I just turned 22 and I still haven’t got even one. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I’m so bad at branching out, and also just realising that I’m actually an adult and I allowed to just go and do these things – I don’t need permission. I did get my septum pierced a couple months ago though, so I feel like that’s baby steps!

    I really want to go to Spain soon. I’m in the UK so it’s a pretty short flight, and I went there a few times on family holidays when I was little. I’ve also been learning Spanish! I feel like for me it would be a good first solo travelling adventure, since I’d be in more familiar territory than if I just went and booked a flight to India or something. (Though I do want to go there someday!)

    I hope you have the absolute best time in Portugal, and everywhere you go after that! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally feel you on that. I dreamt about tattoos & piercings for my whole teenagehood, and then I was in my mid-twenties when I finally got my first tattoo. It felt like such a grown-up thing to do, which travel still felt like for a while for me, and it was only recently that I was like, wait, I am a grown up??

      Spain looks absolutely gorgeous! It’s definitely in my top ten countries to visit, and though I have the next three planned out, I’m hoping that it’ll come up sooner rather than later. I did a lot of baby steps before this, too. Hiking alone, taking myself out to dinner, doing long drives alone. Small things that have slowly added up to enough comfort to attempt traveling alone. I hope you get there, too!

      And thank you! ❤ I'm so, so excited to go, and can't wait to share all the adventures after!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. this post is sososo important and a necessary encouragement for me. i planned to solo travel for the first time in 2021, but ended up caving and going with my godmother instead. and while the trip showed me that i *can* do things on my own, i couldn’t help but feel even more nervous about it since i returned. there were so many little mistakes made and i realized that, had i been alone, it would’ve been much harder dealing with the anxiety of it all. i am sure i wouldn’t have even left my hotel room in the first few days if it wasn’t for my godmother pushing me! but i really, really hope that you trip goes wonderfully well and i’m sure you’ll have the best memories at the end of it. also, we do have to start somewhere and we can only learn by making mistakes first!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s totally fair, though! The only reason I was able to fly to California alone twice is because there were familiar people picking me up that had planned our entire trip. And I’m sure that I’m going to be anxious as hell the whole time because there are SO many new things I’m doing. I’ve been trying desperately not to think of the interisland flight that lands on one of Europe’s top ten most dangerous airstrips, but it is what it is! It’s going to be part of the adventure, and it’ll make the next trip a little bit easier. We’ve all got to start somewhere, like you said, and if your start is with your godmother, there’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s just bringing you one step closer to someday travelling solo. Also, who knows if it’ll actually help, but I’ve scheduled guided day trips for most of my days, so it’s a way to force myself outside of my Airbnb and right away. Might be a way to convince yourself to try things solo!

      Thank you! ❤ I'm so excited to go, and I can't wait to post all about it!

      Like

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