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I Finally Traveled Alone And Here's Why You Should Too

You're ready to take that solo trip too.

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Hi hi everyone, I'm Lauren! I am a 4'11" lady with little-to-no muscle, who on occasion makes impulsive decisions. Like go to Iceland. By myself.

@laurenmihae / Via instagram.com

I really, really love to travel. I actually prioritize it over a lot of things in my life (like food, saving up for retirement...). But I had never traveled completely alone, something I always wanted to do.

@laurenmihae

Usually when I travel, I'm with other people. As a survivor of assault, I'm well aware that unfortunately, I am a potential target. So I do get extremely paranoid and nervous when I go out alone — and at the idea of traveling alone.

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But when I stumbled on a special roundtrip fare to Iceland for $300, I kinda felt some carpe diem spirit floating around in me. Because hello?! It was THREE HUNDO DOLL-HAIRS. AND THERE WAS ONLY ONE TICKET LEFT.

Wow Air / Lauren Han

The next five minutes were chaos. I had so many questions: When would I ever get this chance again? Could I go alone? Would I die? Do I have enough vacation days? Is WOW Air even real? It sure doesn't sound real. Turns out, they are real, but they are the kind that will charge you for everything including water so be prepared.

So then I did what any responsible young adult would do. I booked that shit. And then quit my job the next day.

Lauren Han

The Flight Deal is amazing at finding you crazy great steals but to get the absolute best deal, you have to be a little flexy~. I interpreted this as leaving my job. It was a personal sacrifice I was willing to make.

To be clear, I was aware that this decision would cost me. I didn't leave my job willy nilly. Monthly rent is no frickin' joke. But like I said, I think travel is super important. So months prior I actually got a second job in order to save as much as I could in order to support myself when the time came. AND IT CAME!

Right after I booked my flight, I realized I had learned lesson #1:

Lauren Han

This sounds really obvious but hear me out. You end up compromising so much during a trip with your friends or family because there are so many people to accommodate. This includes WHEN you go. I was able to just make that decision for myself without including another person's schedule.

Alone, I didn't have to worry about anyone else's interests but mine every single day. I mapped out which excursions I wanted to do, and slept in some mornings. Everything in Iceland is pretty expensive so I mostly ate hot dogs, oatmeal, and bananas. AND I WAS OKAY WITH THAT! When you're traveling alone, you can spend as little or as much money as you want, sleep in or get up early, shower or not shower (he he he). You're completely in charge, and it's awesome.

When it was finally time to go, I was scared and nervous y'all. I was unsure of my ability to navigate it by myself and actually enjoy my intense alone time. But once I got there, I quickly learned lesson #2:

Lauren Han

When you're traveling by yourself, you're not actually alone. Wherever you go, there will be someone who is also traveling or love the place you are – so you'll always have something in common with them.

At first, I was worried that I'd get lost, bored, anxious, anti-social, or lonely. But I actually met someone the SECOND I got to my hostel and about thirty people after that. I made a lot of new friends and had deep, meaningful conversations with strangers that probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't alone. It was also refreshing to meet people who knew nothing about me or my past.

Although Iceland is such a wonderfully safe country, you never know what could happen. So I still put my safety first, by actually trusting other people.

@laurenmihae / Via instagram.com

I met a couple other female solo travelers who understood the anxiety about traveling alone as a woman. We supported each other through the trip and took Instagrams for each other's personal aesthetic. At the end of the day, we would text each other to make sure everyone got back to the hostel safely. So even though I went to Iceland alone, I didn't really feel alone.

The hostel I stayed at was super social, so there were always new people to meet and in turn, watch my back. It was also very accommodating when it came to helping you plan tours, and many of the excursions had tour busses that would pick you up and drop you off right in front of your hostel. It was really obvious that they cared about your safety and comfort.

I had an amazing time, but it's not like I was super comfortable being by myself during my whole trip. I was in the process of learning lesson #3:

Lauren Han

The whole trip was one new experience, and every day I found myself needing to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to get the most out of it.

I tried fermented shark for the first time and had a minor allergic reaction (omfg) but now I know I hate it (silver lining, right?). I stood outside in the freezing cold for hours three nights in a row in the middle of nowhere to see the Northern Lights.

@laurenmihae / Via instagram.com

I showered NAKED in front of PEOPLE WHO COULD SEE ME omg (even my mom hasn't seen me naked basically since I came out of the womb) just to get in a geothermal spa and holy fuck it was the most relaxing experience of my life.

Personally, the most uncomfortable thing I did in Iceland was sleep in a co-ed room with 16 beds. I allowed myself to trust the people around me, and ended up with new friendships all around the world.

The best things about my solo trip:

@laurenmihae / Via instagram.com

1. Iceland was a great location to take my first solo trip because not only is it incredibly beautiful and magical, it is also a very safe, happy country.

2. I ended up learning so much about myself and realized that I have a much more open heart and mind than even just a few years ago.

3. And most importantly, the trip was for me. It wasn't to make anyone else but myself happy. And I learned that I love traveling by myself, and that I am definitely, absolutely strong enough to do it.

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