Travelling solo really is the best way to travel. It is a truly magnificent and life affirming adventure that may be a little daunting at first, but really is a hugely rewarding experience that teaches you as much about yourself as it does about the world you are travelling in. Here are 10 awesome life lessons you learn when you travel alone.
Solo travel teaches you that you can handle anything.
Life is full of ups and downs, that much is true for everyone, but travelling alone with no safety net and no one around to rely on forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you deal with things on your own. That simple fact alone shows you that you can deal with things, even things you never thought you would be able to. You can deal with them because you have to, you have no choice. So when you return home with this new found self confidence the downs that life throws at you will seem like child’s play.
Solo travel teaches you that you are more outgoing than you think you are.
Backpackers who travel with partners or friends tend to be much more insular, solo travellers are forced to be more sociable out of necessity. One of the biggest worries most solo travellers have before they set off on their round the world adventures is that they will be lonely and won’t mean anyone, but solo travellers also find that they are more likely to be approached by other solo travellers wanting to make friends as well as being much more likely to talk to others, and that goes for locals as much as it does other travellers.
Solo travel teaches you that you are braver than you think you are.
This is about far more than learning that you can walk down that street alone or that you can manage the city’s public transport system without anyone holding your hand, although that can be a significant step too. This is about the absolute freedom that solo travel gives you to try new things and open yourself up to new experiences without the constraints of having anyone you know holding you back. Travelling solo means that you are absolutely free to try new things that you normally wouldn’t if you were with someone else. It means that there is no fear of being judged or ridiculed for what you really want to do or even being judged if you fail or not, because there is no one there to judge you! Solo travel is pure freedom, and embracing that can sometimes take courage, but by doing so you find that you were brave enough to do it all along.
Solo travel teaches you that distance doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.
At home people are often surrounded by tons of people who aren’t necessarily good for you, or some who frankly don’t matter one way or the other. Travelling the world solo teaches you who really matters and who doesn’t. Those who are really important will still be a part of your life when you return a whole new and infinitely more important person, those who don’t be won’t, and that really isn’t a bad thing.
Solo travel shows you that you are allowed to be a little selfish.
Travelling alone means you don’t have to put up with anyone else’s crap. No more compromising on their stupid ideas to sit in and have a quiet night or head to that fast food place instead of the street stall. You can do what you want when you want and it is awesome! And you know what? It’s actually okay to be selfish.
Solo travel teaches you that ‘you time’ is okay.
This is perhaps one of the biggest hits of self discovery that solo travel will ever give you. By definition solo travel means you are alone, and after all the initial fear, worry and the occasional pang of loneliness, solo travel teaches you that actually, that’s okay. It’s more than okay in fact, it’s actually pretty damn good! Too many people during the course of their everyday lives live for other people. They define themselves by their friendships, their relationships, who they are at work or who they should be around certain individuals or groups. and that is okay to an extent, that’s part of human nature.
The problem is far too many people come to define themselves by those relationships and social roles alone. They forget who they are outside of those roles they play. They forget that it is okay to be antisocial once in a while. It is okay to want to be on your own, away from other people. It’s absolutely healthy in fact.
Having a bit of you time can help you relax, destress and learn a little about yourself too. By feeling comfortable in your own company and learning to accept yourself you come back from your solo adventure much stronger and infinitely more self confident, but you also come back with an innate sense of you. Completely comfortable in your own skin and with a clear understanding of yourself and your own needs. Selfish? Maybe. But that isn’t always a bad thing!
Solo travel means that you can reinvent yourself.
When you travel solo no one knows who you are, your past or anything at all about your life. That means you can be whoever you want to be. This doesn’t mean I’m endorsing completely lying to everyone and inventing a super sexy James Bond ex MI6 persona, this means unshackling yourself from all the unimportant crap in your life. No more baggage. No more forced society roles. The only thing that matters is you and finding out what truly matters to you in your life. Solo travel really does teach you who you are and what is important, and that means you can choose to follow the things that matter to you and be whoever it is you want to be.
Solo travel shows you it’s okay to eat alone.
Whether it’s eating in a restaurant or going to see a show on your own, when you are at home you get looked at as if you are the Antichrist if you try to do anything like that. When travelling solo it becomes a necessity. Eventually you learn that it isn’t just fine, it’s actually quite fun, and you learn to stop caring quite so much about what society thinks.
Solo travel means that you can be more creative.
Solo travel means a lot of you time, and a lot of you time means a lot of time spent trying to amuse yourself.
Get your minds out of the gutter, this isn’t that type of post.
What it means is that many solo travellers find a productive use of that sudden lottery win of free time. They find that they don’t have to fill their free time engaging with or dealing with other people and their dramas, they are free, so many find a lot of release in writing, art or other creative pursuits. Whether you have a novel you’ve always wanted to write, like the time I wrote the majority of my novel on a trip to Egypt, a blog you want to start or even thinking up new ways to make a living, solo travel gives you the time and motivation to put your efforts into it.
Finally, solo travel teaches you that you are never alone.
Travelling solo can open your eyes to the true wonder of humanity that is out there in the big wide world and that there are so many people out there to meet and make friends with, whether for a short time or a lifetime. As a solo traveller you are free to engage with and experience it in a way that you never can when travelling with others. Whether that is by striking up a conversation with complete strangers on a long distance journey or having someone open up their home to you with an act of altruistic hospitality, people will often open themselves up to you more if you are alone, and if you are alone you are often more receptive to that.
One of my fondest travel memories was of a conversation struck up with a Catholic Padre, a Nun and a Muslim Imam on a train … and no, that isn’t the start of a bad joke! And when you are alone, truly alone, and things go wrong – which they occasionally do – you will find that the hand stretched out to you by a stranger offering to help because no one else is there to do it can be one of the most humbling experiences of your life.
Armed with the experience of these life lessons, solo travel will change you in ways you will never imagine and will make you a better and stronger person with skills and confidence that will last far longer than your solo trip ever will.
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