By Catherine Koss
“When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist
I remember only all too well going to Disney World in Florida as a little girl and hearing the tune “It’s a Small World.” This concept of space, as it turns out, is perceived very differently in different cultures, something I discovered when studying in Freiburg, Germany. My four German roommates were all experienced travelers who had taken gap years to explore for months. With that, they thought it was unconventional that I travel alone, even if it was just for a weekend.
As technology advances and our world becomes ever more globalized, it becomes more and more evident just how small of a world it is, after all.
This thought of space saturated my solo travels, most notably in the cramped quarters of hostels. When I traveled to Athens by myself, I found a community among my hostel’s rooftop bar, the karaoke nights, the friendly staff and the other unfamiliar vagabonds. I befriended the other solo travelers, and we clued each other in on hidden gems, explored fancy restaurants and wandered to the beach together.
Ultimately, solo travel catapults you into a space of uncertainty and adventure. The unfamiliar space and the unfamiliar people pushed me out of my comfort zone, prompting me to be more outgoing and to absorb new perspectives. Most of all, I truly embraced space, both big and small.