„Travel isn‘t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that‘s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.“ A. Bourdain
If I have to think about my most recent traveling experience, I cannot think of a better way to describe it. And the main reason for this is that I was alone for the most part. I did other abroad experiences and traveling experiences by myself in the past, and I moved to a country I barely knew by myself without knowing anything or anyone in there. But somehow this time it felt much different. I had lots of time in my hands to think and connect with myself so there are definitely things I brought back home with me. Traveling solo is the best gift you can make to yourself and if you’re feeling a little intimidated, then hopefully this post will give you that little kick in the butt you need to take the leap if you haven’t already.
What traveling solo has taught me: 10 things I learned traveling alone
1. Forget the FOMO. As much as it is exciting to see, do and experience as much as possible, obviously it is impossible to do it all. Do things at your own pace, what how and when you want. If you’re able to keep up with all your plans and wishes, great! Otherwise, it’s okay if you don’t. You are in charge.
2. Be ready to cope with your feelings (it can get painful sometimes). Because you’re going to have moments on your own, you have the chance to truly connect with yourself, and this can bring up some painful or negative feelings too. It’s alright, you can handle them.
3. Try to look at everything with fresh, new eyes. Never miss a chance to breathe in as much possible of the place you’re visiting: get the most out of a bus or train ride, having lunch in a restaurant or cafe, waiting at the bus or subway stop, browsing through a weekly market, watching people passing by or talking to someone. They may all seem like ordinary things but the ordinary things can be the most extraordinary.
4. Accept that things won’t always necessarily go the way you‘ve planned them…. and that is okay. Because you’re by yourself, you and only you are the one responsible for things. You learn to plan ahead and to take responsibility for what happens and if for some reason the plan doesn’t turn out to be the best or something goes bot exactly as imagined, step up and get back on track: focus on the things you can change and you have control over and forget the rest.
5. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. This is YOUR time and you should do what makes you feel best. Just do whatever feels good for you and don’t be afraid to show your true self when you’re in hostels, trains or buses, pubs and bars etc. If you are an introvert to whom it doesn’t come natural to talk to strangers, than don’t. Embrace your full self always, everywhere. On the other hand though…
6. Push yourself to be more confident. Pretend like you belong, blend in with your surroundings, try to speak the local language. Don‘t be a tourist, be a curious traveler and don’t preclude yourself from what could be an amazing experience. The more you challenge your comfort zone, the more your confidence will grow.
7. All you need is less. Traveling (especially alone) really puts you into perspective. A carry on sized bag or a backpack becomes everything you need, and you learn what it is truly essential. You give much more meaning to experiences over stuff, you are confident that you need much less than you think to be a happy person.
8. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to do things by yourself. You don’t have to make new friends at all cost and do everything with someone. You’re not a loser if you’re spending time by yourself. And think about how good does it feel to dedicate your entire time to yourself. Enjoy your own company and make the most out of it. And if you’re finding difficult to make new friends or talk to people you don’t know, don’t worry. Traveling can put some amazing people on your way! You‘ll find them eventually. Or, if it helps, it’s good to have someone to visit along the way (a close friend or a relative): as much as traveling alone is enriching and exciting, having the chance to spend some time with someone you know well, even if just briefly, will break those moments of solitude you might experience.
9. You are going to be fine. Stop thinking that something bad will happen to you: just be careful and follow your gut and you will be absolutely fine. Radiate positive vibes and positivity will be your best friend along the way.
10. You are ENOUGH. Have faith and confidence in yourself, in your power and the things you can achieve. As intimidating as it might look like at first, traveling alone will open yourself to so many new things! And trust me, you got this. You always do.
Have you already traveled by yourself? If yes, what are the lesson you brought back with you? If not, what is holding you back?
I‘ll talk to you soon!