Why You Should Travel Abroad Alone

I’m really, really excited to have Maxie guest posting. Maxie is one of “my people.” She’s an all around star… seriously, she’s someone who walks into a room and radiates amazingness. (And not just because she’s tall and has bright red hair.) I heard about Maxie before I met her and everyone– absolutely everyone– raved about her. The first night we met, we were on a work trip and we helped each other duct tape a Step and Repeat to the wall of a very nice building. I knew we’d be friends right away. Our friendship has grown in the most wonderful way and I’m incredibly lucky to have her in my life.
Maxie started blogging earlier this year and instantly became one of my favorite blogs. She’s so open and so vulnerable and just all-around-inspiring. We have weekly Skype calls with each other and they’re one of my favorite parts of the week. Her blog is a way that everyone can have access to the Maxie touch. She’ll be popping in on College Prepster every now and then… we have a handful of blog posts in the works!
This is Maxie’s first post about why you should travel abroad alone…

I used to hear about girls traveling abroad solo, and I’d think of backpacking (right after the word “crazy” flashed through my consciousness). I don’t do backpacking. And I surely don’t do foreign countries alone. Plus, I haven’t owned a backpack since that awful tire-bottomed Jansport circa 6th grade.
Traveling alone was never on my bucket list nor did it ever make it to my 25 before 25. Even while racking up 90k frequent flyer miles the past year, I still never understood the allure of doing that without someone riding shotgun. And then this summer happened. I had gone too long burning the candle at both ends. I had tried to fit 26 hours in a 24-hour day one too many times. And to top it all off, I was trying to recover from an epic heartbreak (Carrie Bradshaw in Mexico style minus the happy ending). Cue a month-long meltdown worthy of letting mascara run all over my pristine, white pillow shams.
So I did the only thing I knew to do. I booked a trip to a place that would hopefully peel back the layers and put my life in perspective. I applied for a visa to a country that I was counting on to put the puzzle pieces of my heart back together. And then I left for India…alone.
After spending almost two weeks traveling through northern India on my #SouloYOLO trip, I can honestly say my life, my heart, my soul…they were all changed. Now, backpack or not, I think it’s imperative that every single person take a trip by their lonesome to a foreign country. There’s too many reasons to count, but here’s a start.
When you’re cut off from everything that you know and understand, your priorities have a funny way of filtering themselves. I realized my attachment to success and perfection were really holding me back. What really mattered began to bubble up to the center of my focus. When you’re traveling alone through villages and old run down cities, it becomes very clear that the size of your thighs, the amount of followers on instagram, the internship you didn’t get…they don’t matter. As you’re lost in thought, taking everything that this solo adventure has to offer, the importance of things like family, passion, and presence are undeniable.  
You can’t even consider going to another country alone without doing a ton of preparation to ensure you’re safe. Whether that means spending hours reading what it’s like to be a woman alone in India, buying a body strap to wear under clothes with your money in it, learning best practices on storing your passport, to arranging for guides and drivers during your time traveling, you’re forced to get hyper aware when it comes to your safety. I was no exception. I spent the weeks prior preparing my trip in such a way that underscored caution, and still when I boarded that plane my heart was racing with natural fear. That’s OK though, because often we get too comfortable in our own little bubbles. Getting in touch with our intuition when it comes to safety is something that we should be doing each and every day.
Going to India was what I call limitless “white space” where I could fully understand the vibrancy of experiences that came on my path. I met so many beautiful strangers, who later became friends, that I never would have had a meal with, much less talked to, had I been with friends or family while I was traveling. It’s amazing the things that individuals in this world can teach us. The majority of my spiritual “awakening” in India happened because of the people I met, talked to, and spent time with along the way.
Sometimes life becomes just a series of things that we’re used to doing. We go to class, we talk to our family, we hang out with our friends, we do what we’re supposed to do. It’s time to shake all of that up. I’ve genuinely never felt more fully human than when I ended up on an impromptu 4-hour motorcycle ride through the countryside of India or when I sat on the floor of a Hindu temple chanting sanskrit with the locals. Adventure reminds us that we have this one life to live, so we might as well do it in a blazingly passionate way.

I hope you go. And when you do, don’t go to see it. Go to boldly experience it.  Whether it’s to a place you’ve only seen in coffee-table books or a country you’ve only viewed in movies, take the plunge and change your own life. Don’t wait for heartbreak or burnout to force you there.
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Ashley B

I traveled to Istanbul by myself a few years ago and it was incredible. It definitely isn't easy but completely worth it. I learned more about myself and Istanbul than I could have ever hoped for. Now I travel alone quite a bit, and while it does take a lot of prep (safety is so important) it is tremendously empowering! Loved the post, thanks for sharing!

Ashley | History in High Heels

Pearls and Prosecco

I've never traveled alone, but my husband and I travel together constantly. Traveling with a loved one is a great way to test a relationship, and if you are with the right person, it will strengthen it.


I was backpacking in scotland back in july… wonderful, just incredible!! it really was my best vacation yet ♥

Kate C

I totally agree with the value of travelling alone! After heartbreak, I went to Italy by myself and went on a cookery and language course. Going by myself meant I actually had to use the Italian I learnt in the classes, rather than depending on someone else.

The English Teacher Cooks

Sarah hood

I've travelled abroad with my extended family, a group of 100 students, and my immediate family. But I have yet to go it alone, which is certainly something that I plan to do in the future. Being in a foreign place really brings to light what is important and valuable that we can't see when we're concerned with daily life.

Thank you for this post and for a new blog to read!


If it makes you feel any better Alex, my heart was literally beating out of my chest when I boarded the plane to India. But I just kept telling myself "Life happens when we push the limits on our comfort zone"…Don't let fear hold you back 🙂


I feel the same way!!!! I went to London by myself for about a month and I am forever changed. I was able to just be and find myself and explore. It was so refreshing. I would do it again in heart beat. Thanks for this inspiring post!! 🙂 xo


what an awesome post! I would love to travel to a foreign country on my own, and India is actually at the top of my list (right above South Africa and France)! looking forward to more from maxie!

Wahida Yaakub

Travelling alone is an awesome thing to do. Not a norm for a Malaysian girl like me, but I did it anyways. Was pretty nervous the first time I did it, but they were indeed fulfilling. All travel enthusiasts should try solo travelling at least once!

Sarah @ Simply Sarah Style

Maxie – I studied abroad alone during grad school. Of course, I made friends with other people I met while in Europe for five weeks, but it was a true eye opener. You're right… Strip everything usually rely on (e.g., your family and friends, social media, your regular routine, etc.) and it is crazy what you learn about yourself. It was nice to read your account on traveling alone. I'm glad you had a safe and enjoyable trip to India!

Julia D.

Beautiful post. I wholeheartedly agree. India has always been on my list, but Maxie's description makes me want to go right this instant!

Breanna Young

Thank you so much for that push of a shove Maxie! I'm wanting to study abroad Fall of 2014 in Harlaxton, England but going by myself has been getting the best of me. Reading all of what you had to say though, really boosted my self-confidence and was very motivational! 🙂

Ashley Cameron

Maxie, thanks for another wonderful post! Thanks to Carly mentioning your blog recently, I've been reading every post in my free time. I'm currently serving as a volunteer for 1 year in the Philippines by myself. All the ones relating to your trip to India have helped me process what I'm going through here. I can complete relate on so many levels. You have a beautiful way with words!
Another quote that comes to mind if anyone is nervous about traveling alone, "i'm not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you it's going to be worth it." I hope everyone takes the leap!

anne julie quenette

This blog is about personal experience written in a professional style so that the message behind this post is clear. For my part, I have travelled more than once with my family but never alone. Travelling abroad either alone or with family is a good experience as it makes you reflect on your lifestyle as well as discover many new things, cultures and places. You come out from this experience with a wider enriched mindset. That’s why I agree with the message behind this post stating that one should try to travel abroad alone once in their life.

Melisa Armoogum

Travelling abroad alone may seem to be very exciting at the beginning but it may become very stressful.Howvever i believe that it may be a fruitful experience especially when you are young as it allows you to become autonomous. Since i was 14 i always dreamed about studying abroad but then later i had the opportunity to travel abroad for my tertiary studies but i was not ready at all because i realised that i will have to leave it all and go, especially my family. Now i'm 20 and i'm still not ready but still i know that one day or another i will have to do it because i want to have this experience. But for those who are ready, just go for it 🙂