Although an obvious one, this list could not be written without it. My first thought when I got into Amsterdam the first day of spring break was, “I'm all alone? There's no one here to pick me up? What do I possibly do now?” It's weird to go somewhere without someone telling you what to do and where to go, especially since so much of education (even college) is a laundry list of expectations with a step-by-step syllabus for how to pass. However, in travel and the real world, there is no step-by-step guide. You're on your own and you are in control of your own destiny.
Traveling independently taught me to appreciate all the work that the adults in my life have done before me: all the problems they have solved, all the unforeseen costs they have paid for, and all the months of pre-planning. Independence means you are the one to solve your problems now. There’s no authority figure to look up to. It’s just you and your intuition.
In almost any job, exercising some degree of independence is crucial. You are there because you know what you are doing. You cannot ask questions every second, but must try and figure out things on your own.
However, that's not to say you can never ask questions. This is where what I like to call ‘humble independence’ comes in the picture. While independence is often associated with never needing help with anyone or anything, humble independence, in my opinion, means exercising independence with discretion. It means recognizing your mental limitations and asking for help when you need it the most. Throughout our travels, we would often stop and ask a local for directions or a waiter for their personal recommendation of the best food to try. If we could figure something out for ourselves, we would. However, if we couldn’t, we felt no shame asking help from those around us.
In Majorca, we asked our taxi driver about the best beaches to visit and how to get there. He recommended a gorgeous little cove with white sand and clear blue water. There was no way we would've heard about it otherwise, and it was one of the cutest coves I've seen. While we exercised independence for the majority of the trip, we also practiced dependence on others when it mattered most. Humble independence is a crucial skill for any career, as it will demonstrate a maturity that will set you apart from other candidates.