How Traveling Alone Changed My Life
I’m from Tokyo, and I just returned back from America a few days ago. I guess you could say I’m a girl who loves traveling...but that hasn't always been the case.
The first time I went on a trip alone was just a few years ago, at age 18. When I was little, I was totally a different person. I would have never traveled solo. I always wanted to be with my parents, anytime, anywhere. Back then, I was scared of staying home alone, going outside by myself, or just taking an elevator alone. I didn’t even like staying over at my friends’ houses.
Being alone was my biggest fear. But in junior high, I got really into a Japanese idol group—so into them that I was willing to go out of town with friends to see their concert. That was when everything started to change. Slowly, I became OK with traveling by myself. After enjoying some short trips around Japan, I started dreaming about traveling overseas.
I saved up money for two years by working at a drugstore after school. Originally, my plan was to go abroad with my mom, but my dad objected. He thought I should force myself to get through it by myself; that way the whole experience would be new. I decided he was right.
When the time finally came. I got my passport, a big new suitcase, and a travel book. My mom came to the airport with me. Waiting in the airport, I was fine...until it was time to go to the gate. All my fears attacked me at once. I started crying and thinking “What if I can’t communicate with anyone there?” “What if I get lost?” “What if someone attacks me and steals my bag?” It was exactly the same feeling I had when I worried about everything as a little kid.
The people at the airport were really nice and helped me all the way to the destination. (They thought I was on my way to study abroad because I was crying so much.) When I arrived, the things I had worried about ended up being just fine. Everything was new, and it was awesome; even going to a grocery store was a fun adventure.
Now I love traveling by myself. I feel a sense of achievement from leaving my country alone and meeting new people, regardless if the experience is good or bad.
Sometimes things don't work the way you expect, but you can still learn from these moments. No matter where you go, traveling makes you stronger and helps you truly learn how to figure out new things in life. Getting over your fears is hard, and the first step—and the second, too—will be extremely scary. You might cry. (I did.) But I promise once you jump into it, you’ll be fine. You might even love it.
By Lilico Kubota, 21