5 Things I learned about myself while traveling alone
Ever since I was a young girl, I was enthralled with exploring the world and the lessons you could learn outside your home. This desire to learn was nurtured around my family dinner table where an enormous rustic looking map of the world functioned as a tablecloth. Each evening I would point at a new country and ask my parents about what it was like, what was different, and what you could see there. This love of exploration and learning only continued into my University education, and I distinctly remember one of my professors telling me that ‘living or traveling in another country for 6 months was equivalent to 2 years of University education.’ While I’m not sure of the exact ratio (whether 3 months equals one year of education or more), I am a firm believer that there is a wealth of knowledge available to you when you travel - especially when you travel solo. Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned about myself while traveling.
1) Traveling is rewarding | As I have traveled from country to country I have discovered that it is always more rewarding to share your travel experiences with someone else. Traveling alone offers a good balance between “you” time and having the opportunity to make local friends, but there’s a healthy balance to be struck. Be open minded, find the courage to travel abroad, and you will meet locals and other travelers who want to be your friends.
2) Making local friends is easy | You would be surprised how rewarding it is to make new friends on your travels. Although you will be traveling alone (without a travel buddy), that does not mean that you won’t be surrounded by locals who may end up becoming lifelong friends. I have found that by simply learning a few words in the local language, or by learning how to cook traditional foods you can easily make friends. People appreciate it when you try to understand them and embrace their culture.
3) Alone Time is Healthy | We spend so much of our time with other people (either in-person or online) and it is therapeutic to be able to step away from that all. When you travel, you finally have the chance to truly unplug. You don’t have a phone ringing all the time, you don’t have your phone vibrating with text messages, and you don’t have unlimited wifi to constantly be checking in on your favorite shows. While traveling you have time to really be alone and that can bring peace as you step back from everything that distracted you back home.
4) Learning to Face my Fears | Traveling has helped me trust my intuition and become more confident, not only as a traveler but also as an individual. Many travelers (especially female travelers) are fearful when they step into a new country, new culture, or new experience. The beauty of travel is that it forces you to learn something new and it forces you to trust in yourself and your instincts / intuition. You have the opportunity to meet new people everyday (which can be a scary experience for some), you get to try new foods, and you get to decide where you go and what you do each day. Traveling teaches you how to make decisions and empowers you to face your fears.
5) The World isn’t Scary & people are (mostly) Good | Despite what the media may say, the world (for the most part) is a beautiful, safe place to explore. During my travels I have found one thing to be true, and that is the fact that all people around the world genuinely want to do good. The beauty about travel is that it teaches travelers to be open minded, helps break down stereotypes, and allows travelers to see the world in a positive light. It is true that bad things happen, but had things happen everywhere -even in your backyard.
If you are about to embark on a solo journey, remember that traveling is rewarding. You will make a lot of new friends and having some ‘you-time’ is healthy -not to mention you’ll learn to face your fears. The world is a beautiful place full of good people, so get out and explore it!