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.
ADVENTURE MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE
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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