7 Things You Can Learn About Yourself From Traveling Solo
Solo travel can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. It’s terrifying to commit to at first, exciting when you’re in the middle of your adventure and incredibly self-reflective as you return to life back home.
Traveling alone can also be one of the best ways to learn about yourself no matter how old you are or the stage of life you’re currently in. Below are just 7 (of many) things you’re bound to discover about the inner you when you take the leap and embark on the journey of a lifetime.
1. You realize the difference between feeling lonely and being alone.
Loneliness is a fleeting emotion. When homesickness strikes or you observe groups of friends near you having fun and wish you could join in, it’s not unusual to feel a little melancholy. That’s entirely natural and to be expected, especially when you travel solo for the first time. But being alone is an entirely different experience that can actually be incredibly tranquil, soothing and uplifting. So many of us rarely get the alone time we need in our everyday lives to understand how it could be a positive experience, but your travels will certainly share this truth with you.
2. You learn how much you naturally need to control things… and how you react when you can’t.
One of the first things you’re forced to accept when traveling is that everything is not going to go according to plan. You’re going to have to be a little flexible whether that comes naturally to you or you really have to work at it. And when you’re venturing solo, everything falls on your shoulders. So you quickly find how uncomfortable you feel when you no longer have control over your situation and how long it takes you to just accept it and let yourself go with the flow rather than remaining a nervous ball of energy on your trip.
3. You find you’re more responsible than you thought you were.
Your typical day-to-day routine might not require you to be super responsible, but solo travel puts you in do-or-don’t situations where you learn how to make smart moves out of necessity. You might be surprised to see how many responsible behaviors and decisions come naturally to you when it’s just you against the world out there and you have to take care of yourself until you return home. Many of them aren’t surprising — eating three real meals a day, not losing your passport, making it to your connecting flight on time — but they sure as hell make a huge difference.
4. You discover distinctions between your values and the values of others in your life.
We guarantee you that you and your family members, friends and significant other don’t all love the exact same things or prioritize them in the same way. And when you’re traveling alone, you don’t have to take into consideration the wants and needs of others. This trip is entirely for you. Eat what you want when you want, visit the museums you find intriguing and skip the rest, and go to bed early if you really could care less about exploring the local nightlife and would rather get up early for a sunrise yoga session. It’s all up to you. Take advantage of this opportunity to not just envision, but live the life you would ideally maintain every day of the year if no one else had a say in your decisions. Enjoy being truly selfish.
5. You come to recognize your creature comforts very well.
The best way to identify the things you can’t (or don’t want to) live without is to leave them behind temporarily and see how you feel. While traveling, you might find that not sleeping in your own bed makes you extremely uncomfortable, or maybe you think you need WiFi access on your phone at all times to be able to check in on social media. Whatever the creature comfort is, it’s never a bad idea to challenge yourself to ditch it for a while and genuinely ask yourself if you really need all of the things you surround yourself with at home. Do you miss television or forget about it entirely? Do you hate packing light or realize that you could happily live with a capsule wardrobe all the time? Keep asking yourself these things.
6. You put your resilience to the test.
Sometimes you run into obstacles during your journey that make you want to throw in the towel early and head on home before your scheduled return date. Whether you suffer a rough bout of food poisoning, lose your wallet during a night out, or don’t speak or understand any of the local language to communicate effectively, all of these experiences help you find out just how much grit you have and how much you value sticking things out for the sake of the experience. The vast majority of solo travel challenges aren’t life-threatening. If anything, they can make you a stronger, more empathetic person. So push forward and see what happens.
7. Sometimes you can be your own best friend.
When you’re traveling by yourself, the only person you begin and end each day with is you. You have plenty of time to sit quietly with your thoughts, retrace steps of your past and ask yourself where your future path should lead. These moments are the most valuable in not only getting to know the real you, but learning to love what you find. You are your best support system if you take the time to cultivate the relationship. At the end of the day, if you can be your own best friend no matter what else is happening in the world around you, then you’ve achieved a pretty incredible success.