I can remember back to the very first day I had stepped foot onto a plane and about to venture to a foreign country with no one but myself. I knew not a single soul in the destination I had plans to arrive in nor did I have anything in particular planned. A strange feeling really but one I can honestly say was very intimidating at the time. Looking back on it now almost seems comical but I can remember all the thoughts running through my head…. from the time I left the comforts and familiarity of home as well as thinking what I’d do if something went wrong or if I had found myself in a bind with no one to turn to.
Here is what I can tell you after traveling solo on two entirely separate times in my life; what traveling forces you to learn and become, you get back that much more from it than you’d ever imagined possible whether your solo travels are short and sweet or months on end.
Will you gain your independence? Yes of course. How about freedom? Naturally. However, support, comfort and guidance will be in short supply. So why do it? Why venture out on your own solo? What reasons could there be? Here are just some of the many lifelong advantages you’ll gain from traveling solo :
You’ll learn to become resourceful…
By navigating your way across foreign territory, dealing with the inevitable setbacks you’ll run into on an almost daily basis, and finding a way to overcome the challenges of traveling. Things such as figuring out how to order food when you don’t speak the language, learning to connect with locals, or even learning how to find a place to stay when the cab driver drops you off in the middle of a dark alley way in China at 2am after just arriving into the country by plane and there is not a person in sight. Yep, you can go ahead and plan on the unknown and then some. But these unexpected challenges are what makes travel so adventurous. And when we overcome them and gain experience in spite of them, we grow as travelers. For every scam that may be pulled on us or every time we need to find our way, we will always come out on top and be that much better next time around. And for that, we become resourceful. We get a bit better everyday as we learn to stand on our own two feet, often with no one else around to help us out of a jam. And this resourcefulness will surely pay dividends throughout life as just one of the great benefits received while earning a world travelers education.
You’ll learn to be outgoing…
Whether you are naturally outgoing or not, traveling solo forces you into situations by putting yourself ‘out there’ first and making friends. And this is a good thing! Being a bit of an introvert myself, this was a real challenge for me when I first started out. I can remember my very first time sitting in a hostel, alone, and in a foreign country for the first time ever… I didn’t know a single person within an 8,000 mile radius. All I knew was that everything was different and I felt out of place. I’m not going to lie, it took a couple of days to adjust to this and the different environments I found myself in and also, to ultimately make connections with those around me. After that, everything seemed so much easier moving forward. All of a sudden, no matter where I went, it just seemed incredibly easy to meet people, both locals and travelers. In fact, it wasn’t before long that I actually preferred the ability to travel solo.
You’ll become more attentive
When you’re traveling solo, you realize that its just you out there, no one else is there to ‘look over your shoulder’ making sure you’re OK. On that fact, you realize very quickly that you are the one that needs to look out for your own safety, you will be the one to navigate that map and find your destination and you will also notice a lot more in the way of culture as you travel as well since your focus is much more in tune to your surroundings without a companion at your side to distract you to what’s going on around you. What’s more is the notion that your senses are ‘heightened’ when you travel, making you aware of so much more on a daily basis. After a while, this heightened state of awareness just seems to pour itself over into your downtime, even when you’re not traveling; yet another wonderful advantage of traveling solo.
You’ll get to know yourself (even more)
One of the most fascinating aspects of solo travel is becoming more introspective and learning more about yourself as you venture from one place to another. Actually, it may be one big reason why a lot travelers made the choice to go solo in the first place. The whole ‘discover yourself’ phase. Truth be told, there is a lot to gain in life by learning more about yourself and what makes you tick. And traveling solo will help you get to that level of introspection and understanding… it sure did for me. When you get clear about what it is you truly want and desire in life, all of sudden you decide not to waste your time on the things that aren’t in alignment with your values, beliefs and desires and you follow your true north as a result.
You’ll become resilient in the face of adversity
As you travel, you are often surrounded by changing circumstances, challenging situations and sometimes, utter chaos when traveling in some countries! Personally, I had been in some situations traveling that felt more like a crazy dream than it did reality. When you find yourself in environments that are nothing more than ‘organized chaos’ or when things just seem to go wrong one minute after the next, you learn to adapt and you start to brush them off and become less reactive. And less reaction means more observation… something a lot of people could benefit from as tempers flare and emotions run wild across the world. Traveling this way just makes you more level headed and much better able to adapt to all situations and difficulties you may find yourself in.
You allow yourself a fresh start
For every day that you travel to a new place, you’ve essentially given yourself a new beginning, a new place to start anew, a chance for a new identity, without a peer group or influences around you that you had back home such as friends, family or coworkers. It is an excellent opportunity to start things out the way you want them, with no reservations or limitations put on yourself. And the best part about it, should you want to start all over again, simple! Just move onward to your next destination…
You realize your happiness is not dependent on someone else
For every traveling companion I’ve ever had, it always seemed there were differences of opinion on what to do, where to go, where to eat, etc. Well, when you’re solo, you can forget about all that madness! Sure, you’ll find yourself traveling with others but it’s only if you choose to! Don’t like your traveling counterparts? No problem, you simply tell them you have travel plans the next day and you part ways, no harm done. You never have to dictate your trip based around someone else’s interests or disagreements in what you’d like to do or where you want to go.
You gain a self confidence in yourself never known before
This a truly a no brainer right? Of course you’ll gain self confidence but when you’re out there traveling around with no one else but yourself, you realize it truly is you and you alone. No one else there to stand you up when you get knocked down and no one there for moral support. Its an incredible way to take on the world and prove to yourself that there isn’t much else to stop you. That you are free to go where you want to go, when you want to go and you don’t need to stop and wait on anyone to make something happen. It’s an incredible feeling to arrive at and one that will take you to new heights throughout the rest of your life.
So for all of you out there considering the solo travel path, hopefully this list will help encourage you to make the decision! For all the doubts that may stir in your head and all the pros and cons you may consider, just keep in mind all the benefits that you’ll gain from being out there on your own. I’m pretty sure any solo traveler would agree to the above and should you have made it out there on your own or are about to, I’d love to hear your comments below, so please share!