Traveling with family, friends or people you love is an amazing experience. You create moments that you will cherish for the rest of your life with the people you love. But still, there’s something rewarding and daring in the experience of traveling alone that makes people want to travel solo. One of the main advantages of solo traveling is that you don’t need to put up with anyone and you can take things at your own pace but that’s not all. Solo traveling can be a life-changing experience, even a revelation. I’ve done my fair share of solo travel and in this article, I will show you how to travel solo through some of the main life lessons I learned while traveling alone.
1. Solo travel helps you discover your gut feel and learn how to use it
I believe that all human beings possess a gut feeling but you just need to find yourself in the right situation to actually discover that you have it. Traveling alone will give you plenty of such situations. There will be times when you have this sense telling you something isn’t right, whether it’s about someone trying to scam you or finding a simple direction. Your instincts will develop and you will end up being more aware of your surroundings which probably won’t happen if you travel in a group.
The gut feeling is something that the modern human is not using too much, as life is much easier today compared to the past. Traveling solo will make you reconnect with your gut feeling and that will help you with a lot of challenges in everyday life as well.
2. You will make new friends even if you’re an introvert
I know there are a lot of you introverts out there and you wish you could be more charismatic and make new friends more easily. Well, I have some news for you: I used to be just like you. The solo journey will lead you to make new friends in the most unexpected places. Before starting my journey I could only dream of becoming a friend with a Buddhist monk or a descendant of an Indian maharaja. You realize out of nowhere, that you have a lot more in common with your new companions than you could ever imagine.
That also makes you more spontaneous. You learn that you can’t control everything. And that’s a good thing because we need to learn to let go sometimes. We can’t control everything and sometimes chaos is the truth of reality. And if you want to travel solo and survive in this century of constant change, you need to learn how to just let go, embrace the chaos and go with the flow.
3. It will turn you into a problem solver
You will face many unplanned and unwanted situations when traveling alone, especially if far away from home. I’ve come across face to face with armed robbers, I almost fell victim to a dangerous scam in Vietnam, I forgot my passport at the hotel in Kuala Lumpur and I realized that at the airport 1 hour before the departure…
Maybe things won’t be so drastic in your case but not everything will be hunky-dory, no matter how good of a planner you are. And when things go south, you’re on your own most of the time and there’s no one around that’s going to give you a solution. That’s when your gut feeling starts working and you discover a part of you that you didn’t know existed before.
4. You’re gonna say goodbye to your comfort zone
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and this is where the real human growth happens. I know it’s hard, but stepping out of your comfort zone can be a mesmerizing experience. Maybe you will find out that this thing is not for you, but still, you can’t lose what you learned during your new experience!
Stepping out of the comfort zone will either bring a life-changing decision in your nomad life or will make you see life from different angles and make you appreciate what you have even more. Either way, it’s a win-win.
5. You will face all your weaknesses and learn to let go
When you’re traveling alone, you don’t live in the circle of people that you like and can’t ignore the surrounding environment. You have to adapt to it, and this is the moment when you objectively look at your strengths and weaknesses and see how can you improve yourself as a person.
For me, the hardest part was letting go. I used to be kind of a control freak and I was getting really frustrated when even the smallest things got out of my hand. While traveling alone, that used to happen very often to me, even though I was trying to plan everything perfectly. That’s when I realized that I can’t plan my life and I can’t count out the influence of the environment. And that letting go doesn’t hurt as much as it seemed in the beginning.
6. You’ll see that getting lost is actually an amazing experience
When you’re traveling in a country far away from your home, the fear of the unknown is always present among all of us. Not having anyone you know that you can rely on makes that feeling even worse. Getting lost in a strange big city isn’t uncommon and it happens quite often. It’s a terrible feeling in the beginning, especially if there’s a language barrier.
With me, that happened in Hanoi, Vietnam and I couldn’t even ask for directions as most of the people didn’t speak English. But when you realize that you’re getting lost, you understand that you need to act calm in order to get out of it. After you calm down you realize that no one is rushing you to go back to your hotel. And then, completely relaxed, you start enjoying the environment. You accept the unknown and see there’s nothing to be afraid of.
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7. You learn not to care about opinions
After traveling solo, you will realize that the opinions of other people don’t matter as much. Some people might judge you for one reason or another, but with so many things to see in the world, your solo journey allows you to keep your eyes on the big picture.
8. You can be a dreamer
Solo traveling in a different place can be a great teacher as well. Seeing a lot less fortunate people not being afraid to chase their dreams will make you realize that you don’t have any excuses to do the same. For example, I was wandering around the slums in Mumbai, seeing the most unfortunate, but still, happy people when I realized that life is only 10% of the things that happen to you. The other 90%? How you react to that.
I learned to live, to be brave, to challenge myself, to respect other cultures, to listen to people, to be more patient, to value little things in life, and last but not least, to follow my dreams.
9. You’ll become a logistics pro
You’re in charge of your whole trip, from the accommodation, flight tickets, and health insurance, to managing different currencies. I can definitely say I feel that I’ve grown as a person, on both personal and career level, only because of traveling solo. While you travel solo, you learn how to juggle with a lot of different plans, how to manage more things at the same time, where to find the cheapest flights, where to get the best accommodation deals, etc. It’s surprisingly similar to working on a few different projects and having deadlines for all of them!
10. You will value yourself more
By traveling solo, you wake up your gut feeling and you realize you can survive on your own. Therefore, you start realizing that you don’t need to settle for friendships and relationships just for the sake of having someone close to you. You become pickier when it comes to who you spend your time with and you start choosing the people that give you what you want, rather than what you need and the same goes on a professional level as well.
11. It will make you a more patient person
Especially in the less developed countries, buses and trains might be very late and spoil your plans if you’re on a tight schedule. But every closed door opens another one. When I had a long layover in Da Nang, Vietnam I went out and explored the city. When I was traveling from Goa to Delhi for 40 hours by train, I got the chance to see the amazing countryside of India. Remember, while traveling, your best companions should be your open mind and your patience.
12. You will see only We instead of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’
No matter how you twist it around, people will be people in every part of the globe. We live for the same things, we share our fears, we hope for the same things. Everyone wants to have people in their lives that they can love and rely on. It’s then when you see that ‘They’ aren’t very different from ‘Us’ and that ‘They’ are longing for the same things and essentially aren’t very different than ‘Us’.
This amazing man on the picture did not only open the door of his house to a stranger, but also took me to a typical local version of what we at the Balkan call kafana (a distinct type of local bistro which primarily serves alcoholic beverages and coffee, and often also light snacks) that I only thought I can find at home. Then it hit me, you are never really alone, no matter where you are unless you choose to be. Regardless of the country, there will always be people willing to help or join you on an adventure.
13. You will turn your new perspective into a new way of living
All solo travelers I met go back home as changed people with a new perspective on life and on the role that they play in it. It’s not possible to delete from your memory all the new things that you saw and experienced. If you feel that you need a change in your life and if you want to break the status quo in your life, you should definitely go for a solo trip.
14. You will see that you can find home anywhere
I hate clichés, but solo travel really opens your mind. When we are in our normal environment we tend to make routines a huge part of our lives and we don’t leave a lot of time to spend with our thoughts. But after I started thinking, I realized that home isn’t a place, but a connection with yourself and with other people around. It’s a place where you know you can open your heart and soul and present yourself to the world for what you are. And this can be done anywhere and everywhere.
Helpful resources for solo travelers
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