4 Essentials That Will Make Traveling Alone So Much Easier

by Isabelle Zanzer

We, as Generation-Y, are known for being restless.

As a result, our love for traveling has increasingly become embodied in our everyday life.

We’re constantly searching for that new challenge, new culture and discovering a world beyond our comfort zones.

New research from Australia confirms what many of us have already discovered ourselves: Traveling alone is awesome.

According to the study, "solo travel can lead to personal feelings of freedom, relaxation and discovery."

Professor Constanza Bianchi from Queensland University of Technology Business School surveyed a sample of 24 participants who recently traveled solo for nine days.

Her findings were published in the International Journal of Tourism Research to emphasize why solo travel in Australia grew by nearly 20 percent from 2007 to 2011.

The result was that "traveling alone for holidays also provided some participants with the feeling that they had more control over their lives and actions," stated the professor.

"Solo traveling also offered some participants the possibility of reflection and self-discovery."

So, let’s picture this scenario:

You've requested your days off, reserved the hotel, and arranged your excursions (and now just have to build up enough courage for hang gliding).

There’s absolutely nothing standing in the way of you and that sweet, non-cubical air.

That is, except for one tiny detail: packing.

Packing, as it easy as it may sound, has always been my weakest link, leaving me with a far too heavy suitcase filled with all the wrong items.

That is, until the day I flew to London.

Looking out my window seat, with my headphones placed neatly on my head and my mind wandering in its own little world, my day was complete.

I was flying far, far away into a different world across the ocean, ready to explore new scenery, people, food and most importantly, culture.

Most ironically, I was sitting next to a former British Airways pilot, who more than happily shared his list of items he never travels without.

Packing, as boring as it sounds, is actually an integral part of traveling.

Better yet, it can easily transform your travel experience.

How? Easy.

Here are four essential items you should travel with, as told by a former pilot:

1. Sneakers

Yes, you heard it correctly, sneakers.

According to bestselling author Norm Schriever in his article for The Huffington Post, “Your Life in a Backpack: What to Pack For 6 Months Traveling Abroad,” sneakers are a must when you’re on the road.

Let’s face it, who wants to run through airport security in stilettos?

2. Headphones

This, as obvious as it may sound, is probably the most vital item you need while traveling.

“If I could carry one thing with me while traveling, it would be headphones. Noise can really play tricks with your head, so I much rather disappear in my own world when I can, listening to my own music. If I didn’t, my mental health would suffer to the extreme,” stated the former pilot.

Long commutes — whether they're in planes, trains or automobiles — are much more bearable when you can tune the world out.

Find a pair of over-ear headphones that sit comfortably, block out noise and let you zone out to the sound of Adele’s voice.

According to a blog post on Master & Dynamic, a premium audio company specialized in luxury headphones:

"Music is power. Whether in the foreground or the background, music has the ability to influence everything from how we feel to how fast we walk through the supermarket. It can shape our perception of our environment and on a physiological level."

Blocking out noise has also the advantage of blocking out fear of flying, so a good pair of headphones is without a doubt a good investment.

And, as someone who used to fear the sight of an airplane, I can guarantee it works.

3. The Weekender Bag

You can fit it under your seat. You can fit it in overheard storage.

It fits just enough clothing for a weekend out of town.

So, there's no excuse to not book that trip and no reason to "shlep" bigger bags.

4. The H2O-Proof Phone Case

Oh, your phone wanted to go swimming with you? Great.

Avoid an unnecessary crisis with a waterproof phone case that will not only save you a long conversation with a cell phone provider, but also lead to some pretty awesome travel-grams.

All is left to say is the truth of the world is out there.

So avoid the "X-File" travel horrors and take a well prepared and deserved trip, solo.