Although you will get lost more than once, traveling alone is one of the best investments you can make for yourself. People who love to travel can testify that you fill your mind with cherished memories and gain precious experiences that serve you well throughout life. You not only appreciate other people and their cultures when you travel alone, but also develop as a person and have beautiful stories to share.
Here’s what happens when you travel alone.
1. You learn to be open-minded.
Traveling in general allows you to experience the unknown. It invites you to open your mind and appreciate what the world has to offer. When you travel alone, you are like a free ion. You are not contained within group mentality or restrained by group think. You are free to explore and debunk false assumptions of places and many other imagined barriers and judgments by evaluating them for yourself. You test your own beliefs and assumptions to ascertain what is true.
To make the most of what the world has to offer, an open mind is vital. Without it, you’ll be missing out a lot.
2. You learn to trust yourself.
When you travel alone, you prove to yourself that you can take on challenges and deal with problems as they arise. As a result, your confidence in yourself grows and you trust yourself more. You become more forgiving and kinder to yourself. Even when you make mistakes or blunders while traveling, you learn to forgive yourself and try again more intelligently. You don’t allow mistakes to shatter your confidence because you realize confidence is one of your most valuable assets on the road.
Learning to trust and believe in yourself will serve you well throughout life.
3. You learn to face your fears.
There is no pill to swallow to overcome fear. Sorry, you just have to face your fears to beat them. When you travel alone, you face your fears head on, including fear of the unknown, fear of a place due to bad publicity, and fear of being alone far from familiar faces. The reward, however, is worthwhile. Fear stops controlling you. You gain back control of your life.
The net effect of overcoming fear and empowering yourself in this way will reflect in other areas of your life too.
4. You learn to test your limits.
Seriously, do you know how far you can walk? How about food? Do you know how much food you can eat? And money. Do you know much money you can survive on a day? When you travel alone, you find you are constantly broke or short in some way. That tests your limits, but you grow stronger. You expand and not shrink. You learn just how strong, adaptable and resilient you really are. You finally begin to figure yourself out. It’s a rewarding process of self-discovery.
However, the cherry on the cake perhaps is that you will look (and be treated) like a hero when you get back home from traveling.
5. You learn to plan ahead.
When you are getting ready to travel alone, you imagine different scenarios and try to think of possible solutions for each one of them. You try to cover every possible likelihood you may encounter. While the perfect plan doesn’t guarantee a smooth trip (things happen on the road), it guarantees you are more likely to enjoy the trip. So, you learn to appreciate the benefits of planning ahead, which proves helpful throughout your life.
Importantly, you learn to prepare for the unknown and deal with unforeseen events. In other words, you learn life.
6. You learn to speak another language.
Gestures and body language can get you far when you don’t understand a word of what someone is saying, but a few useful words and phrases can get you further. When you travel alone, there is no one to turn to. You find you have to open your mouth and let those foreign words trickle out of your tongue, no matter how poor your grammar and imperfect your pronunciation. It may be embarrassing for you, but locals usually appreciate when a foreigner genuinely attempts to speak their langue.
Besides, nothing builds a stronger connection and improves your foreign language skills faster than speaking directly with the native speakers.
7. You learn to make new friends.
It is often said that the older you get, the harder it is to make new friends. That may be true ordinarily, but not really if you love travelling alone. Even if you are shy, you will find that you have to build new relationships on your journey and soon discover it doesn’t take much to make a new friend, no matter how old you are.
A friendly smile, a gentle nod or a helpful hand—that is usually all it takes to initiate friendship.
8. You learn to enjoy your own company.
Yes, there will be nights when you miss home and have a good cry on your bed. Yes, there will be days when you eat alone and wish you had someone to talk to. Yes, there will be days when you get lost and wish you had someone you knew well to call. But, you will learn to appreciate the company of strangers. You will learn to enjoy the beauty of nature by yourself. You will learn to love your own company. More importantly, you will learn to smile and be happy in life.
The reason you will smile and be happy in life is because you know this to be true: wherever you are in the world, you will always have yourself. You can never be truly alone, and no one can change that.