The Benefits of Traveling Alone


Lexe West

Outline of Boston, MA taken March 12, 2019

Lexe West, Editor in Chief

I walked through the doors of the KCI airport and immediately felt waves of fear wash over me as tears began to well in my eyes. I searched the entrance frantically, looking for someone who knew what they were doing, but this came to no avail as there are very few people wandering around airports at four a.m.

This was not the way that I wanted to start my spring break.

This was the first time that I was traveling alone, and the first time I had ever been more than 300 miles away from home. This experience, while nerve-wracking, taught me a lot about life outside of the Midwest and also valuable lessons I can apply here at home.

Independent… Independence?

Going to Boston was almost like taking a test drive in a car before you bought it… only you were test driving a Tesla Model X and you were thinking about buying that old 2005 Honda Civic from your neighbor. Despite this, it was an excellent way for me to experience what it would be like to live on my own without any adult supervision, and what the life of college students looked like on campus. Traveling by yourself, even if you are going to visit someone alone, allows you to instill a new sense of independence in yourself. You have to be confident in your ability to make decisions and problem solve while also still having fun. If there’s one thing that I really did learn, it was how to think critically.

Spot the Tourist

When you travel with your family, you can almost guarantee that you are going to hit all of the monuments and attraction sites your destination has to offer. That’s all great and fun, but you miss out on the opportunity to see how people really live life wherever you’re going. Walking to random little places around Boston, doing things that normal people who live there every day do, it really gave me insight into what being in the North-East was all about. You get to witness mannerisms that are different than your own and others existing in their natural habitat. Not only that but when you arrive with the mindset of a tourist, you can often miss out on the little things and the simple pleasures that can be offered to you. Like… delicious rundown restaurants in sketchy parts of town, or little book stores hidden in small crevices.

Friend or Foe?

Along with being able to see people exist in their natural setting, you can also get a feel for whether or not these are the kinds of people you would enjoy being around. On the plane home from Boston, I met one of the nicest people yet on that trip, something I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I hadn’t been by myself and bought tickets with another person. Not only that, but you can also see the exchanges people have with each other with true authenticity. I realized very quickly what I found to be normal or acceptable back home in the Midwest was very different than the customs held 1,550 miles away. I was able to make friends, or not make friends in some cases, much easier than if I had not been by myself.

Confidence is Key

It’s really easy to feel uncomfortable in a different setting, but being alone and having to make decisions for yourself or walk the streets alone, allows you to gain a new sense of confidence in yourself and your abilities to succeed in new places. Before going to Boston I was terrified that something was going to happen to me, or that I was going to get myself into a sticky situation. Neither of these things happened, and despite having a “distinct western accent and mannerisms” I was able to fit in relatively well. You learn quickly that appearing uncomfortable or out of place makes you look even more out of place and more uncomfortable. It’s best to just breathe and act like you know what you’re doing.

Shake it up

When you travel with a group or with people you know well, it’s easy to hold on to the same routines you would have at home. Being spontaneous and doing things on a whim is half of the fun of traveling to a new place. Some of the things I did in Boston I decided to take home with me and implement it here in Kansas. Doing different things than I normally would in a new place, it helped me change my mindset and renew my fervor for adventure.