GloboTreks is reader-supported through affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! – Norbert
So many people ask me, “Why do you travel alone?“. The answer is simple: I really love traveling alone!
Don’t get me wrong, I also love traveling with friends. But, honestly, I have a passion for going around solo. I think that traveling solo is a great learning experience, resulting in an introspective journey.
There are no competing desires that have to be taken into account to have a “good” traveling experience. That freedom is great, and the “one-on-one” time with yourself is priceless.
I’m sure you must have questioned yourself, “Will I learn something by traveling the world by myself?” The answer is: Definitely.
There are so many life lessons you learn through travel. It teaches you things about the world but also about yourself – and these things will eventually impact your life.
Traveling is a two-way learning process. You absorb, you experience, you react, and you share. Travel teaches you about different cultures, foods, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and fosters personal growth.
And when you travel solo, this process intensifies.
Because you learn more about yourself than you could’ve ever imagined!
We normally don’t have time for ourselves, and we get lost performing our daily routine – work, study, commute, errands, you know how it goes.
We tend to ignore those little details of ourselves that really define us. So, when can we have time for ourselves? Well… Traveling is a good option (and one of life’s greatest teachers!).
Even more, if you travel solo, it’s the perfect time for deep introspection. Traveling alone can give us some of the answers we’ve been seeking and help us discover the meaning of all our unclarified thoughts.
Look at it this way: That is your time to be YOU – It’s your world, your time, your adventure.
Going out on the road forces us to examine all aspects of ourselves, be it the good, the bad, and even the ugly.
Life on the road can give us so many challenges that test our innate patterns and reactions, our emotions, our likes and dislikes, and whatnot. You’re tested by new cultures, unforeseen problems, and loneliness. And you just have to deal. Technically, you find yourself in solitude.
These are 10 things I consider you learn about yourself (and other life lessons) when traveling solo.
1. You Get A Better Measure Of Your Patience
Traveling, either by yourself or with friends, gives you a better measure of your patience.
You learn to have patience with the things that are out of your control (like delays and weather), and you learn not to waste your patience with the things that don’t deserve it (like certain attitudes and intolerance.).
You might struggle to overcome language barriers in a foreign country or struggle to break through your introverted habits while making friends on the road. You might meet rude people who care little for tourists, or have an excursion cancelled because of a rain storm.
All these little obstacles that come across your path will teach you patience.
2. Prioritize What Really Matters
I’ve come to learn that we worry about so many things that don’t really matter and that have absolutely no effect on our lives. When traveling solo to a new country, things tend to matter when they have a direct effect on you and when you can have certain control over them.
Before, I used to worry about many things for no reason. Now I’ve come to think that “If it doesn’t matter, I don’t care.”
One way to figure out your priorities is to ask yourself, “Will it matter in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years?” Depending on your answer, you’ll know how important it is (or not!).
3. Build Your Confidence
Your confidence will grow as you see how things that depend on you become accomplished.
It’s extremely satisfying to see all that you have accomplished so far – be it traveling to “X” amount of countries, doing a cross-country hike, or surfing at the best beaches in the world –whatever turns you on.
This confidence, in turn, teaches you how to present yourself and how to interact with others –even if you’re shy, like me. Confidence has helped me make friends on the road and just interact confidently with fellow travelers, many of whom are still good friends of mine.
4. View Your Material Possessions Differently
There is no better way to dematerialize your life than going backpacking. You learn how to live without so many things you once thought were impossible to live without.
Leaving behind the things you once thought important to you and taking only the essentials may push you beyond your comfort zone, but you’ll realize what’s really important to you.
5. Greater Tolerance For Things Being Different
Traveling exposes you to different cultures and mentalities. When traveling alone, you get even greater exposure since you don’t enclose your social self with your group of friends.
You get to talk more freely with locals, have deeper conversations, and even appreciate better many different perspectives.
You might only know a few phrases of the local language, but still communicate with the local communities in an engaging way – we are all human, after all.
To experience a different culture openly is to understand it and tolerate it, even if you don’t agree with its beliefs.
6. Voice Your Likes and Dislikes
Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to understand your own “real” likes and dislikes. There is no outside influence, no peer pressure, and no societal expectations. It’s just you in your most natural form.
Once you know what you like and dislike, you get a greater sense of self.
7. Greater Independence
You might make new friends as you travel, but you are still responsible for yourself. Literally, everything you do, see, and say depends on YOU.
But at the same time, your independence gives you greater flexibility. Want to go to a specific museum? By all means, GO! Want to stay sleeping? Do it too.
You are the master of your time, and you do with it whatever you want. You don’t require anything other than yourself for your own happiness.
8. Teaches You To Be More Responsible
This one goes hand-in-hand with independence.
When you decide to travel by yourself, you already know that you’re responsible enough to take care of yourself (I hope).
You have taken your life into your own hands, and now you get to mold it as you desire.
No one will be looking out for you on your travels. You need to set your own itineraries, wake up on time, catch buses and flights before they depart, and feed yourself without pigging out on junk food every day!
9. Grasp Your Future Dreams
Now, what you dream of or what you desire for yourself is not encased in the norms of conventional daily life. You are more open-minded, more willing to take risks, and more seduced by the adventure of exploring the unknown of a new destination.
10. Love And Compassion
This could be one of the most important things you get to learn about yourself when traveling solo. You travel for yourself, to re-discover yourself, to experiment with your life, to explore what’s in you.
Whether conscious or not, traveling alone serves as a catalyst for the love for oneself – thanks to the constant ease of introspection.
And as they say, if you learn to love yourself, you’ll learn to love and have compassion for your neighbors, fellow friends, and even everyday strangers.
The human interaction you have on your journey, the interaction with the local culture, and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of different countries – all these things will shape you to become a much better human, having love for yourself and others.
Final Thoughts On Life Lessons Learned From Traveling Solo
There are many more ways traveling solo can have an impact on you. But just because you traveled solo doesn’t mean you will “transform” yourself into a whole new person. Some do, but most don’t.
It all depends on how open and receptive you are while traveling and how you decide to interact with your changing environment.
Change doesn’t come instantly; it is slow and progressive. It’s a long “marinating” process that takes time to develop its true “flavors.”
Let’s say that traveling “plants the seed.” At first, you won’t notice anything different. Still, eventually, you will start seeing things differently, will desire things in ways you didn’t expect, will change certain priorities, and without knowing, you are a different person.
That change is a whole process, a personal learning process – a journey.
As for me, after traveling to so many different places, I have noticed some changes in the way I am and the way I interact with people, but I know there are many other changes still to come.
Have you learned anything about yourself while traveling solo? Share it in the comments!
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!