What do you do when life gets confusing? You go on a solo trip to Amsterdam! Well, not exactly. But, that’s what I did.
For the past decade, I’ve always traveled with a companion, which was safe, comfortable and predictable. One person wakes up at the crack of dawn, while the other likes to sleep in. One person wants to visit this museum while the other doesn’t …you get the drift. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great having someone there that you can share memories with but, I was ready for new memories; different memories. I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and do something that everyone in my circle of friends and family would most likely never do — travel out of the country, alone.
So, this blog post is less about Amsterdam but more about my experience traveling solo and what I learned. Sorry in advance to anyone that just wanted tips on visiting Amsterdam, although I do mention a few in this post so you’re not totally disappointed.
I wanted to visit a city that is safe for solo female travelers, friendly and has an abundance of rich history and culture. While Amsterdam is often seen as a “party town,” I’m here to tell you that it has so much more to offer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome city to visit with friends, party the night away, and visit the Red Light District but I was in search of something more.
I wanted to spend my mornings in cafes and my afternoons in museums. To visit parks and see how locals spent their weekends. Maybe learn a few Dutch words. I wanted to reconnect with myself and rediscover my love for learning about different cultures. And that is exactly what I did.
Places you must see
While there, I immediately fell in love. I visited the canals, the Floating Flower Market, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, Vondelpark, the Red Light District, and I booked a few walking tours. I highly suggest visiting each of these places. The museums were my favorite. Van Gogh’s story fascinates me and visiting the Anne Franke House is a must. During my walking tours, I met and made connections with people from all over the world — people that I probably would have never met if I traveled with someone else.
What I learned from getting out of my comfort zone
My solo trip to Amsterdam was an experience that I will never forget. Traveling alone pushed me to rely on myself to figure things out. Like who’s going to watch my luggage when I’m in the restroom at the airport? And hold my phone, coffee, and sandwich while I look at this map? Or take this picture of me in front of the canal? (see my tip at the end of this blog post). You know, first world problems. But guess what? I got through it.
I explored, I got lost (not as fun), I forced myself to do things that I normally wouldn’t do — like strike up a conversation with a random stranger sitting next to me. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be pretty scary but it is also EXTREMELY gratifying. After my trip, I can honestly say that I was really proud of myself. I also realized that I’m not as much of an introvert as I thought I was!
I’m hoping that my story will inspire more women to stop putting things off because life is too short. We must learn to face our fears because no one else is going to do it for us. Learn to welcome and explore the unknown because there’s so much beauty in the world just waiting to be seen and unraveled but most importantly, get to know yourself. You will gain experiences, life lessons and have new adventures to share. That my friends, no one can ever take away from you.
Forty years from now, I hope to look back and remember that strong, independent girl in her 30’s who wasn’t afraid to push herself to the limit. I hope I never lose that spirit or forget that girl. And with that said, Amsterdam — you will always have a special place in my heart.
Solo Travel Tip
PS – need your photo taken? If someone asks you to take a picture for them, simply ask them to return the favor. Also, most people travel in pairs and in most cases they would like a photo together, right? So if you see them taking pics of one another, ask if they’d like you to take one of them together — then you can ask them to take one of you!