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February 3, 2016

Traveling Solo: Yes, You Can.

Courtesy of author, Holly Hoechstenbach

Comfort. Familiarity. Safety.

As human beings, we tend to settle for that which is familiar. We order the same sandwich from Subway, stare at the same tree outside our window at work every day and often live by the same daily routine. We want the same sights, sounds, tastes and commute.

If we want to do something, we decide who will accompany us, because we fear being alone.

What is so scary about doing something alone? Is it the fear we might grow or learn something?

We opt for normal and regular, and often pass up magical and extraordinary. We crave safe. In a world so big, we shrink back into the comfort of our surroundings and miss eye-opening sights, places and opportunities beyond our kitchen windows.

If living life by routine and comfort in a familiar place makes you happy, then do that. If your adventurous spirit calls you to unfamiliar territory, follow it.

Do not be afraid to try something new. New can be trying a new sandwich rather than your usual, following a new road off the beaten path or maybe traveling solo to another state or country.

We do not gain the same benefits traveling with others as we do traveling solo. Traveling alone forces us to open our eyes to new experiences, face our fears head on and talk to people, and it shows us what we are capable of. It also gives us a boost of confidence, and allows us to rely on ourselves.

I urge you to take a chance, make a new trail of footsteps and open your eyes, ears and heart to unknown and uncharted territory where you will gain knowledge, grow and discover new parts of yourself.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” ~ Unknown

Since my early 20s I have studied Spanish in Guatemala, traveled to Panama, picked up and moved to Clarksville, Tennessee where I knew not one soul, and then ventured to Nashville. If there’s one question I am asked it is this:

“How can you live/travel/move to XYZ by yourself, where you do not know anyone? Isn’t it scary? That is so exciting, but I could never do that.”

My answer? Yes, you can do that. It is a choice. Yes, it’s scary. Unsure. Uncomfortable. Hard. But it is also rewarding, eye-opening, and inspiring once you take a step outside your boundaries. It is pretty awesome to be able to look at yourself and say, “Yes, I can do that. I did that.”

How did I travel to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, for two weeks? I packed a suitcase and went. I ate meals, swam and went to places by myself, made my own schedule, and went on excursions and sightseeing. I also met amazing people, made new friends, tried new food and drinks, saw stunning places, experienced culture and made beautiful, captivating memories that will last a lifetime.

Of all the places I’ve been, it was hardest to leave the Dominican Republic. It was truly an eye-opening experience. All the healthy, exotic super-fruits we don’t have access to here; the quaint, simple beach bars with authentic Dominican music and couples dancing bachata; the coconut trucks with coconuts piled high for people to enjoy; the cacao Dominican chocolate, and the freedom of swimming and diving down into the ocean and holding a live sea urchin in your hands.

You see, I use to care about materialistic things. My mom had a brand new Michael Kors purse, so of course I had to get one. After I came back from the Dominican Republic, though, my views changed. I could picture myself living there, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

I no longer take my life for granted, and I know experiences far outweigh any material item. You can have all the materialistic things in the world, but if you don’t have experiences, what do you really have to show? For experiences are life’s greatest riches.

Life is short, and we aren’t promised tomorrow. And although I have a Master’s degree, some things in life can only be learned by experience.

Some opportunities only come once. Seize them.

My advice: Always be hungry for more in life. Do not settle. Discover. Try. Travel. See. Move. Step out. You only regret the opportunities you don’t take in life.

I see so many people rushing through life, settling for comfort or looking out the window daydreaming.

We tend to forget that the world is a novel, and there is more to a book than just the first page.

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Relephant Read:

6 Mindful Reasons to Travel Solo.

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Author: Holly Hoechstenbach

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Author’s Own // Jem Yoshioka/Flickr

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