The Solo Mentality: How To Be Comfortable Traveling or Moving Alone
Whether you’re planning on going on your first solo trip or planning on moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, your mentality has to be the same. You have to be independent. You have to be comfortable being alone. These two things are non-negotiable.
The timing and mindset I had when I moved to Colorado is something that I am extremely proud of. I almost moved to Colorado in May of 2019, but it would’ve been because I was running away from some loose ends in Chicago.
When I finally moved to Boulder in January, it couldn’t have been more perfect timing. I moved here responsibly, and I did it for the right reasons. I had enough savings, a job lined up, and was simply just chasing what I thought would make me happy. It wasn’t in spite of anyone and it wasn’t for anyone but myself (and my dog).
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I grew so much while on my solo trip in a way that helped me move. I realized what makes me particularly happy and unhappy in a place.
If you’re looking to move to a new city, I’d recommend taking a solo trip first. It doesn’t have to be anything major. It could be going to a town an hour away from where you live just for the weekend. But get comfortable being by yourself.
GET COMFORTABLE MAKING YOUR OWN DECISIONS AND ITINERARIES.
Get comfortable researching things to do in a place, figuring out a budget and sticking to it, navigating places on your own.
Motivating yourself to follow through with your plans.
Going to a bar or restaurant alone.
Talking to strangers and meeting new people. All on your own.
LEARN HOW TO BE COMFORTABLE BEING ALONE.
This is extremely important when moving to a place where you don’t know anyone. I have no issues going to a coffee shop or bar alone, or going hiking with just me and my dog.
I make a point to be social and make friends, but I know that you have to be patient with it. You WILL make friends in a new city, but it takes time.
A lot of people are quick to write off a place and move back to where they came from because “the people in __ are so much better”.
You have to realize that you’re not going to build the same relationships that you built throughout your childhood or throughout college in your first month. You realistically honestly need to give it at least a year.
LEARN HOW TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH MEETING NEW PEOPLE.
I used to be the most introverted person on the planet, to the point where the idea of doing something alone or talking to people I didn’t know absolutely terrified me, and it wasn’t an option.
When I was traveling alone I realized that if I didn’t talk to strangers, I was going to get really lonely really fast. I decided that I had to just ask people to hang out, and that if they said no it didn’t really matter because I’d never see them again.
I’ve met some of the coolest people in the world by just initiating a conversation. I carried this over with moving.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and just ask to grab coffee or drinks. The worst they could do is say no, and generally the only reason they will say no is because they’re busy. I did this with a couple friends of friends when I moved to Colorado and now they’re some of my closest friends.
KNOW YOURSELF ENOUGH TO KNOW YOUR OWN LIKES AND DISLIKES.
This sounds like a silly thing to mention, but you’d be surprised how many people have to turn to someone else to answer this question.
Next time you’re with one of your friends ask them what they like to do by themselves in their free time. A lot of people trip up here, because they’re so used to being in a group or a partnership that they don’t spend any time by themselves.
You’ve got to know what kind of activities you like to do. What is going to make you really enjoy the places you’re going?
Do you want to go hiking, shopping, sightseeing, clubbing, visit museums, art galleries, or just lay on the beach?
And if you’re moving, what kind of activities do you like to do in your daily life? Do you want access to nature, the beach, the city? Do you want access to public transportation, good schools, specific types of work, or access to certain activities?
You can figure a lot of these things out as you go, but definitely have a rough idea of what you want.
KILL THE IDEA THAT “HOME” IS A PLACE.
As long as you have the specific things that make you happy, you can be anywhere in the world. The happiest moments to me are when I hug my dog after a long day, when the sun is shining, when I’m alone in nature, or when I’ve crushed a good workout.
I can do these things from anywhere. But even so, those things are much more available to me in Boulder than Chicago.
KILL THE IDEA THAT WHEREVER YOU LIVE HAS TO BE PERMANENT.
I read a study in a book about how our brains adapt to change and create thoughts called Elastic by theoretical physicist, Leonard Mlodinow (which I HIGHLY recommend you read and you can purchase here) that discusses how “those who accept options that are good enough at the time rather than feeling compelled to find the most optimal choice, tend to be more satisfied with their choices and, in general, happier and less stressed individuals”.
Pick a place to travel to that excites you. If it doesn’t have absolutely everything that you’re looking for that is okay!
Same deal with moving. If a place has a majority of the things you’re looking for, or more things you’re looking for than where you’re currently living, then just go.
When people ask me if I’m going to stay in Colorado for the long haul my answer is “Maybe, but who knows?” I love Colorado. And I can definitely see myself being happy here for a very long time.
But I also thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Chicago, and if 4 or 5 years go by and I get to a point where I’m no longer happy living in Colorado, I am going to pack up my car and my dog again and go somewhere else.
YOU JUST HAVE TO TELL YOUR ANXIETY AND YOUR FEARS TO SHUT THE FUCK UP.
I get asked every day how I have the balls to just pick up and move. The truth is, I’m always terrified. But I’m more terrified of being stuck somewhere that I’m unhappy than I am of the unknown. I trust my intuition and just go for it.
Everything has always worked out one way or another and it always will.
YOU JUST HAVE TO REMIND YOURSELF TO LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACK.
If I thought about the fact that I was going to miss my friends I just had to remind myself that I was going to make new ones, and that Chicago is just a quick plane ride or facetime call away.
If I thought about the fact that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy my job as much, I had to remind myself that the way I make a living is just a way to get a paycheck, it’s not a hobby and it doesn’t have to be permanent.
I’ve lived in Colorado for about 4 months now and I’ve had 6 completely different jobs, and have now finally settled on two that I love.
Give everything a shot until you find what you like.
This isn’t just for jobs, but also your hobbies, the area you live in, even little things such as activities to do, where to spend your weekend, or bars to go to.
YOU’LL ALWAYS REGRET THE CHANCES YOU DIDN’T TAKE MORE THAN THE ONES YOU DID.
Overall, you just have to know the reasons why you’re moving, remind yourself of them constantly, and just have faith that everything is going to work out. If it doesn’t work out, then you always have somewhere to go back to or you can go somewhere completely new again.