Traveling alone can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience, even for seasoned globe-trotters. It’s exhilarating, challenging, a little scary, and involves a great deal of pressure, especially when you’re in an unknown place and way outside your comfort zone. And without a travel buddy by your side, the success of your trip will also depend entirely on you.
Yet, for all the potential drawbacks that traveling alone brings, I still think it’s an incredible experience that you should try at least once in your life. While it’s really fun to go on a romantic getaway with your partner or travel with a bunch of people, there’s just nothing like traveling alone and exploring a place on your own.
For me, it’s a beautiful journey that opens your soul and eyes to a plethora of experiences in ways traveling with a group can’t. Plus, traveling alone is essential to personal growth and self-discovery. On top of it all, it gives you the utter freedom to do almost everything your heart desires without worrying about disappointing anyone in the group. When you are on your own, you build your own travel itinerary, map your own route, as well as make last-minute changes as you please.
Not only are there tons of perks to traveling alone, but there are a few precious lessons you can learn from this incredible experience as well. Here are some valuable lessons that you may learn by traveling solo.
1. You learn to trust yourself
When you are traveling alone, you are proving to yourself that can deal with problems and take on challenges, as they arise. And as a result, your confidence skyrockets, and you trust yourself more. Then, you become kinder and more forgiving to yourself.
Even when you make blunders or mistakes while traveling alone, you learn to forgive yourself, and try again in a more intelligent manner. You won’t allow mistakes to shake up your confidence because you know it is one of your most important assets on the road.
2. Accept mistakes and learn from them
There’s no such thing as a wrong turn or mistake, in solo traveling. As far as I’m concerned, there are no mistakes, but only invaluable life lessons to learn, when you travel solo. There’s no use of having regrets over bad decisions or poor choices. What has happened has already happened, and unless you have Marty McFly’s time machine, you can’t change the outcome of your choices.
Just look on the bright side, and learn from your mishaps, so that you won’t stumble upon them again. And besides, crying over spilled milk is nothing but a waste of energy and time. Trust me, you have a whole lot more to enjoy on your solo journey.
3. Patience is a virtue
Waiting in line to get a tasty meal? Stuck in a crammed airport due to a delayed flight? From long train rides to delayed flights, traveling alone involves a great deal of waiting, which can make you pretty irritated at times. Not to mention, there will be a ton of bloopers and mishaps along the way, including wrong turns and missed flights. Some of these misfortunes will make you cry, while others will make your laugh.
But at the end of the day, these unfortunate events will strengthen your patience, and transform into a better and stronger person. Over time, you’ll develop tolerance for these things, and even learn how to enjoy them.
4. The world isn’t scary
With an endless stream of news involving murders, robberies and disasters, it’s easy to see why a lot of people, especially women, are afraid to venture alone. On social media, TV and newspapers, we are bombarded with negative stories and sad news every hour of the day, making us hesitant to explore the world or even our own backyard. In reality, though, the world isn’t as dangerous and scary as most of us pegged it to be. Today’s media outlets always emphasize dramatic stories because they simply bring in viewers and of course, the advertising dollars.
After traveling the world solo for a few months, you’ll realize that the world is full of nice, kind, good and generous people. Everywhere you’ll go, you’ll meet people who will offer you a refreshing drink (not alcoholic or poisonous) or happily show you around when you are in need of directions.
5. You’ll learn how to manage your money efficiently
You are going to become quite a savvy penny-pincher, once you are out there exploring the word alone. Since you’re the sole person responsible for each dime you spend, you will be compelled to develop the skills you need to keep your money flowing on the road.
6. Not all who wander are lost
Just because you’re wandering alone on the face of the earth, it doesn’t mean you are lost. Keep in mind that traveling alone can enrich your soul and mind as well as satiate your thirst for experience and knowledge. Furthermore, it will expand your horizon and show things that you have never seen or experienced before.
7. “Lonely” and “Alone” are different
Contrary to popular belief, traveling alone doesn’t mean you are going to be lonely for the duration of your journey. Along the way, you are going to meet a bunch of wonderful folks whom you will form strong connections with. And with no companion by your side, traveling alone makes it easier for you to meet new people. As a matter of fact, some people find solo travelers more approachable than those who go with groups.
8. You’ll learn to trust your intuition
With no one to guide you through your journey, you suddenly find the courage to trust your feelings and instincts. Eventually, you’ll learn how to assess the true intentions of a stranger, as well as know how to pick a bar, alley or hostel that’s safe.
9. We are all the same
The irony of travel is that we set out to explore different food, people and culture, and yet we come back and realize that we are all just the same. Latino, White, Black, Asian, famous, rich or poor – everyone is playing the same game of life. In the end, we all want respect, validation, love and security for our future.
10. You’ll know who’s important in your life
Being on the road for a while across the world will make you realize who the important people are in your life. In today’s world, we are burdened by proximity throughout our lives, making it easy to foster artificial relationships solely from frequent interactions. And when you travel solo, your real relationships will be put to the test.
11. There’s so much to learn
There is so much we don’t know about our planet and the people that live here, including their language, food and culture. The truth is, most of us have been long confined by the same part of the earth, for all our lives, with the same mindset.
12. You’ll learn how to talk to strangers
For introverts, traveling alone is a good step outside your comfort zone. With nobody to hide behind, you’ll be forced to speak to strangers, so you can survive in your trip. And if you want to make pleasant memories from your solo trip, you really need to break out of your shell.
Talking to a stranger is an essential skill that will come in handy in your life. Whether you’re buying groceries in a local market or taking a bus ride, this life skill will help you get to your right direction or let you find out what it is you need to know. In addition, talking to strangers will give you an opportunity to know more about the world, and discover other cultures.
13. You learn to test your limits
Do you know how far you can walk? When you’re traveling alone, you’ll be obliged to face a series of challenges that will test your limits. But, guess what? These limits will help you grow stronger as well as allow you to know how resilient and adaptable you really are. You’ll finally start to figure yourself out, and experience a rewarding process of self-discovery.
14. Nothing is permanent except change
As a solo traveler, you’ll learn at some point of your quest that the only way to travel to the fullest is just to jump into the unknown. Traveling alone, after all, is the first step to moving outside your comfort zone. And the farther you move away from it, the more you will get a taste of all the mouthwatering experiences that life has in store for you. And instead of fearing new experiences, you’ll learn to embrace them.
It’s true that traveling alone can be a pretty daunting experience, but once you get to experience it, you’ll be totally thankful that you have mustered the courage to do it.
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