This year I took my first solo trip as an adult.
I know what you're thinking. It means I probably had to sit at a nice Italian dinner in the middle of nowhere (Cabo to be exact) and watch all the cute couples make out while the only action I could manage was a biting mosquito and a moth that landed in my wine.
Although all of the above may be true, traveling solo is still a rewarding experience.
Even though you might experience severe relationship- or best-friend FOMO, overall it's one of the greatest, most eye-opening experiences you'll ever have.
Here are five reasons you should pack your bags, jump on the next plane and travel when life allows it.
1. You get to operate on your own time
First and foremost, if you're going to spend your entire life waiting for someone to travel with, there's a good chance you might not go anywhere at all.
People these days have kids, dogs, relationships, jobs and a million other excuses; unfortunately, the vacation gods don't always time things in our favor. Don't wait for someone else to realize your dreams.
Traveling alone means you can do what you want, when you want.
Sure, you might not think this is a luxury... until you travel with 639,376 girls and learn there is no such thing as your own schedule.
If you're submissive like me, you run on their time and their agenda, which means a good chunk of your trip is wasted pleasing your friends.
When you travel alone, you don't run on anyone's time but your own. Shit, you can wake up at 8 pm one day and at 10 am the next day and go straight to the tequila bar and have a shot for breakfast.
The best part is there's no one there to judge you except the bartender -- and even then he doesn't care as long as you pay the bill.
2. You're able to silence the world and hone in on your thoughts
This isn't your comfort zone; this isn't what you're used to. You don't have your phone blowing up and aren't constantly concerned with what people are texting you about.
When you travel alone, you can spend time self-reflecting and trying to figure out what's going on in that kooky brain of yours instead of obsessing over your social media following or that guy/girl who isn't that into you.
The beauty is that even if you are super in tune with yourself, there is never a point in your life when you can't stop and take a moment to assess where you're at and where you want to be.
During a solo vacation, you're given the opportunity to make an entirely unbiased assessment of yourself without the extra fluff; you can re-evaluate what you want to do next while taking note of everything you've accomplished thus far.
3. It forces you outside of your shell
I'm no turtle, and I've never been shy, but traveling alone forces you to be next level social.
After two days of being on your own, you find yourself talking to strangers who are your parents' age and raging with them as if you're never going to live to see another day.
Kids become your BFFs and Candy-Crushing partners-in-crime and, before you know it, you've got friends of all ages.
I know it sounds kind of crazy, but you gain a tremendous amount of insight by putting yourself out there and connecting with people (and nuggets) from all walks of life.
Whether you're a shy individual or a social butterfly, traveling alone will put you on a new level by making you more inclined to communicate and connect with others even once you leave paradise.
4. You begin to appreciate the things you have
I'm pretty fortunate. I have a roof over my head, shoes on my feet and there hasn't been a single day when I haven't been able to afford something to eat.
My life isn't perfect. For starters, I can't get a guy to like me if my life depended on it and I have an upstairs neighbor who has a concrete ballerina for a child who slams on the ground every single time I'm hungover.
Aside from those two things, I would say I'm pretty blessed.
Until I traveled alone and completely isolated myself, I actually couldn't understand how lucky I am to have all of these luxuries I take for granted.
When you travel, you see how other people live and how they find happiness in all the little things.
Some people aren't able to indulge in the same luxuries as you are, or I am, yet their happiness is unwavering. Their smile and warmth despite their situation becomes a reminder that even though you may not have it all, you are truly privileged.
It makes you re-think all those moments you got upset at your parents for being overly-protective and angry with a friend over something absurd and minute in the grand scheme of things.
Not having people you love and cherish to laugh and share moments with hits home and teaches you a new level of appreciation.
5. You get an entirely new perspective
Do you ever have one of those moments when you listen to a Southwest commercial and go, "YES I WANT TO GET AWAY."
Well, a wise man once told me if you're having a bad day, an OK year or just flat-out hate your existence, take a vacation and bond with nature.
You'll discover the true meaning of life.
Ha, I'm just kidding; I totally just made that up, but, seriously, I'm onto something. Nature provides perspective. It makes you realize how much of a fragile, useless, little speckle you are, which, in turn, puts you in your place.
If you thought you were tough shit, step out into the ocean and rise up against a powerful wave or try a 12-mile hike; maybe you'll realize how precious your life is and just how powerful the earth is.
Nature in all its glory, untouched and raw, is unlike anything else. It can give life and take life, and when you understand the sheer power of what that means, it gives your life meaning.
The fact that we're able to exist, breathe and experience all of this is just a blessing in itself. Remember that.