Ten things you learn while travelling solo

Set out to explore yourself
Image courtesy: ©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

If you travel alone, you may learn just as much about yourself as the destinations you visit. These lessons can then be transferred to all areas of your life.

What kind of a traveller you are

When you don’t have to fit in with anyone else’s travel preferences, your personal travel style becomes clear. Perhaps you realise you prefer exploring at a fast pace, or otherwise enjoy having more time to smell the roses. Maybe you discover your inner party animal, or you find that you like getting up early to sightsee before the crowds arrive. This intel will help you better plan future solo trips.

You learn to be open minded

When you travel alone, your assumptions and beliefs are tested more than ever. With no one by your side to back up your prejudices, you’ll learn to open your mind to new ways of living, and re-evaluate any preconceived notions about these cultures or customs you may have been harbouring.

You learn what your limits are

Thought you’d be comfortable enough sleeping in a 20-bed dorm? Figured you’d be tough enough to manage a multi-day wilderness hike without access to a shower? Travelling solo, you’ll quickly find out what your limits are, and how comfortable you are pushing them.

You learn to be comfortable alone

There might be times when you wish you had someone to share a meal with, but after travelling solo for a while, you learn to be at peace with your own company.

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You learn to take responsibility

You’ll lose bank cards, miss buses, underestimate the amount of time it takes to get to the airport, and forget to book a hostel during a festival period. When travelling solo, you have no one else to blame for your mistakes but yourself. You learn to take full responsibility for them, take the lessons on board, and move on.

You learn to trust your intuition

Without a trusted travel partner to help point you in the right (or wrong) direction on the road, you find the courage to trust your own instincts.

You learn what is important to you in life

As you are introduced to new people, sights, smells and sounds, you develop the ability to look at your ‘real’ life at home more objectively. You question whether the habits, goals and lifestyle choices you once thought were important really matter to you as much as you thought they did.

You learn to live with less

After travelling for a while, you get used to living with just the essentials. Suddenly the idea of ordering next season’s must-have jeans or spending an hour on your beauty regime each day starts to seem a lot sillier than it once did.

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You learn who your real friends are

Your true friends and family love you for you, and understand (or at least learn to accept) your need to travel alone. When you return, you’ll pick up exactly where you left off. Some who felt like true friends before may not seem to relate to you now, so you can re-evaluate their role in your life.

You learn there’s always room for more friends in your life

You’ll soon learn that it’s easy to make friends travelling solo, with many of the friends you meet on the road ending up being friends for life. Be receptive to other travellers who strike up conversation, taking the time to find out more about what brought them to the very same place you’re visiting – you may very well have something in common.