Over the past 18 months, I’ve travelled around the world to different cities and countries, including Paris, France; Munich, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cusco, Peru; Medellin, Colombia; NYC, USA; and more.
All of these trips have been with me, myself, and I.
People talk about how great travelling alone is and why you need to try it. So, I finally mustered up the courage and set out to venture on my own.
Let me be upfront by telling you that travelling alone is not for everyone. For those brave enough to take on the challenge, the lessons learnt can be life changing. They were for me so far, and the journey has only just begun.
Here are 31 lessons you will learn while travelling alone.
1. You Hate Being Alone.
You step out of that airport and can’t help but feel nervous, lonely, and doubtful. This is how everyone feels at the beginning of their adventure — and only at the beginning.
2. You Love Being Alone.
Being alone becomes a way of living and you have complete freedom to do what you want, when you want.
3. Experiences > Materials.
The transition from living with a car, a home, and your own TV to a backpack makes you realize how much your possessions owned you. Experiences are life-lasting. Materials give you nothing but a bill.
4. Quality Beats Quantity.
We live in a quantified world where the higher the number, the more it’s attributed to success — followers, bank accounts, houses. For some, this also applies to the number of places visited. However, it’s far better to spend 3 months in a city learning its culture, language, and creating lasting relationships than trying to hit 10 cities in 3 months.
5. Learn A New Language.
It’s only when you travel to a foreign country that you realize how big the world truly is and how much of a bubble you’ve been living in.
For example, if English is the only language you can understand, you’re only able to communicate with 12% of the world. The best way to understand the rest of the world and the amazing cultures out there is to learn a new language. Just by learning a popular language like Spanish or Mandarin, your reach and understanding of the world doubles.
In the Internet era we live in today, there’s no excuse not to know another language. Take advantage of websites like Rype that provide unlimited one-on-one Spanish lessons online with a private teacher, anytime, anywhere.
We’re entering a Multilingual era, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it.
6. You Learn To Love Yourself.
Travelling alone gets lonely — there’s no doubt about it. Facing your inner thoughts and being comfortable and happy with who you are as a person will be one of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn.
7. You Stop Caring What Others Think About You
There’s a big difference between outer confidence and inner confidence. Outer confidence can be faked and is hard to sustain. Inner confidence is being 100% comfortable in your own skin.Stop caring what other people think and have the confidence to do what you want, when you want.
8. Own Up To Your Success And Mistakes.
When you’re travelling alone, there’s no one else that is there to help you make a decision. However that decision turns out, you need to own up to it.
9. Trust Your Intuition.
Every day, you’re making small and big decisions. There will never be enough information to make the perfect decision, and the ability to trust your intuition is the key to survival.
10. Home Is Where You Are.
Home starts to follow you wherever you go, with everything you own on your back.
11. Blend Into The City.
If you’ve come all this way to visit a city, then be in it 100%. Speak the language, hang out with the locals, eat the food. Don’t be that person who clings to other foreigners.
12. What’s Important In Your Life.
You hear the most fascinating life stories from people you meet. From rags to riches, near-death experiences, parents with cancer, the list goes on.
13. Who’s Important In Your Life.
Being away for a period of time across the world makes you realize who the important people are in your life.We’re “burdened” by proximity throughout our lives, which makes it easy to develop artificial relationships solely from frequent interactions. Your real relationships are put to the test.
14. Don’t Allow Your Phone To Bring You Back.
There’s something magical about travelling and being in a completely different city. You become more open-minded, your mindset shifts, and you can create the most meaningful relationships. Don’t allow your phone to take that away from you. Put it away.
15. Be Weird.
Life is way too short to live in the confined limits of how society expects you to act in public. Embrace your natural weird side, because each of us has it. Take the risk.
16. Don’t Delay Your Happiness.
There’s a difference between fulfillment and happiness. Fulfillment may be a life-long investment to master and earn, but you can choose to be happy here and now. Smile.
There’s so much we don’t know about the world and the people that live here — culture, food, language. The list goes on. The truth is that most of us have been confined by the same part of the world, with the same mindset, for all our lives.
You can talk all day about doing something, but without taking any action, it’s just talk.There are people in the world working 10x harder than we are at our normal jobs and getting paid 1/100th of our normal pay. Most of us don’t know what hard work means.
19. There’s No Such Thing As A Stranger.
There’s something about meeting with a fellow traveller that immediately connects you with them. If anyone has stayed at an hostel, then you can relate to this.
20. Vulnerability Is Sexy.
This took me a while to realize, but vulnerability is the sexiest thing a human being can show. Last week, I had a 3-hour non-stop conversation on my flight to Colombia, and the conversation got so intense she ended up tearing up. It was one of the most real moments I’ve experienced in a long time.
It takes a next level of confidence to put yourself on the line for rejection or failure. Embrace humility.
21. See People For Who They Are.
One of my favorite things about travelling is how people’s normal societal layers are uncovered physically and mentally. Everyone is dressed similarly, without the mask of a three-piece suit, and you’re judged solely on who you are as a person — nothing else.
22. Kill Them With Kindness.
It’s easier to react with frustration than respond with kindness. Choose the latter, you won’t regret it.
Unexpected moments will arise during your travels, and your spontaneity muscles will grow.
25. Alone Isn’t The Answer.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
26. Live For Random Acts Of Kindness.
It’s the easiest, yet most powerful way to make the world smile.
27. You Cringe At #Firstworldproblems.
It’s hard to empathize with people complaining about losing their restaurant reservations or getting a middle seat on a plane when you meet people who are making less than $5/day while supporting their families.
28. Invest In Yourself.
Travelling alone is one of the few times in your life where your number one goal is to take care of yourself. Be OK with that because you won’t get this moment back.
29. Have A Purpose.
Have a purpose bigger than yourself and your personal goals in life. It’s purpose that empowers us to get through the grind and the obstacles that come our way. The realization that you’re not doing this for yourself, that there are others counting on you, will drive you.
30. Stand For Something, Or Stand For Nothing.
Be bold enough to stand up for what you believe in, but have the humility to know that you don’t have all the answers.
31. We’re All Human.
The irony of travelling is that we set out to explore different cultures, different foods, different people, yet what we come back to realize is that we’re all just the same.
Poor, rich, famous, Asian, Black, White, Latino — we’re all playing the same game of life. At the end of the day, we all want love, validation, respect, and security for our future.
Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.
1. Limit the time you spend with them.
First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.
In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.
Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.
2. Speak up for yourself.
Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.
3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”
This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.
But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.
4. Don’t make their problems your problems.
Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.
This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.
Why else would they be sharing this with you?
5. Change the subject.
When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.
Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.
6. Talk about solutions, not problems.
Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.
I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.
You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”
Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.
7. Leave them behind.
Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.
If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.
That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.