My first international trip by myself was everything it was supposed to be: terrifying and wonderful.
I’ve had friends say, “I could never travel alone,” or even push the responsibility for that decision away from themselves by saying, “Oh, I think I’d be so bored by myself. It’s way more special to have a friend with you.”
False. Or at least, not necessarily.
I said those things, too, before I actually took that solo trip. It was a serious comfort-zone departure, but it barely took a day on the road alone to realize I was not only okay — I was thriving. I’ve since traveled a lot, both alone and with friends and family, but there was so much I gained from my solo trips. I highly recommend it.
Here are five things I’ve learned from traveling alone:
1. I’m More Resourceful Than I Ever Imagined
When everything’s falling apart, as it sometimes does when you’re traveling, all you’ve got is you. You’ve got to figure it out.
And you know what? You can.
2. People Want to Understand and Be Understood
I’ve been in many countries whose language I don’t speak, but that doesn’t mean you can go two weeks without communicating.
Sure, you’ll run into the occasional surly shopkeeper with no time for your foreign nonsense, but the vast majority of people will smile and gesture with utmost patience as you do the same.
3. I Know What I Like
I don’t need to see any more churches. I love art museums and going back to a restaurant if it was that good. I want to walk everywhere and take the night train so I don’t waste a day. I want to couchsurf. I’m fine with meeting people who are so much fun to be around that we can watch movies and cook at home for the three days I’m in a city, even if it means missing some site or event.
Before I took a trip alone, I visited attractions because it seemed like the thing to do there, or because my travel partners wanted to. Traveling alone freed me up to do everything I wanted.
4. My Intuition Rocks
I’ve been blessed with safe travels, and I credit a large portion of that to trusting my gut about what street to take and which people to talk to.
I learned to never second-guess or get judgmental on myself if I got a feeling about anything — or anyone.
5. The World Isn’t So Scary
People are people everywhere, living and learning and loving.
From Lebanon to Colombia, Spain to India, I’ve met incredible people who were quick to smile and help however they could.
I honestly can’t imagine who I’d be today if I never took that first solo journey. I feel the impact of that trip, and those that followed, in so much of what I do now, both on the road and in day-to-day life.
What did you discover on your trips alone? If you haven’t traveled by yourself, what’s stopping you?