Deciding to travel the world by yourself isn’t easy. It’s like learning to ride a bike. Or asking for a promotion. Or leaning in for a first kiss! You know lots of people do it. And you know a lot of good could come from it if you can muster enough courage to pull the trigger. So, on one hand, it’s an exciting prospect. But it’s daunting too. Read on if you’re looking for a final “push”, or a fresh dose of inspiration, to book those tickets and have an adventure!
“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.”
Why You Should Travel Alone
You’ll become a problem solver
Which way to the train station, which word on the menu means pork, which man’s come-ons to ignore. Once you navigate a foreign city with a foreign language with no wifi, you’ll feel like you can do anything. There’s no one to tell you left versus right, unless you ask someone, which sometimes you should. Other times let your sense of direction and memory pull through.
You’ll face your weaknesses
If your inner compass spins in circles, you’ll soon be reminded of it, over and over again. If you’re constantly needing a bathroom, you’ll become well aware of it when you’re doling out a euro here and a euro there to use public restrooms. If you’re lax with money, next month’s credit card statement will shove that in your face, but so be it. While traveling alone, you’ll end up ironing out some personality kinks, solely because there is no one to judge or annoy you but, well, you.
You’ll learn patience
Traveling isn’t all seaside views and Parisian patios. Sometimes your hostel-mate snores. Or you miss your train. Or you wear the same pair of pants five days in a row. A funny thing happens when there’s no one to complain to: you don’t complain. Take a deep breath and practice your patience. It’s all part of the process, right? Plus, bad experiences ultimately make for good stories.
You’ll meet forever friends
It’s human nature. Eventually, you’ll crave conversation and companionship, and—unless you’re backpacking through the desert—you’ll find it. You’ll chat with the bartender or someone interesting will sit in the empty barstool next to you. Or—not saying I did this or anything—you’ll exchange numbers with a Lebanese man your mother wouldn’t approve of. I now have a collection of friends (Hi, Alexa! Hi, Juan!) who grew up on different continents than I did and speak different languages than I do, but who I now consider lifelong friends—you’re stuck with me, guys!—because we met and fell in friend-love at a formidable time. I’d let them crash on my couch any day, whether it’s tomorrow or two decades from now. That’s priceless.
You’ll become a better traveler.
The more you travel, the better you become at traveling—particularly when you have no one to rely on but yourself. You’ll learn to streamline your wardrobe, bring a backup set of contacts and you’ll get the airport route down pat. And best yet: you’ll understand how the world works just that much more.