You learn a lot as a traveler. Being out in the world, being exposed to other cultures, being put into unfamiliar situations, and oftentimes being put into emotional, stressful, and difficult situations. Everything that happens on the road, good or bad, teaches you something and helps to build new skills. And these life skills that you gain will come in handy in all parts of your life, from work to relationships.
While you might learn a lot of this stuff no matter how you travel, these life skills are things you’ll specifically gain as a SOLO TRAVELER (and especially as a long-term traveler). It’s not that you won’t learn any of this stuff if you’re traveling as a couple or with other people, but things are intensified when you’re alone. There’s no one there to hold your hand, to help you in rough situations, or to make decisions for you. As a solo traveler, there’s really no one else to lean on—it’s all on you.
This forced independence will quickly change your perspective. Relying on only yourself, you’ll have no choice but to improve these skills, to learn how to handle every situation, and how to do things alone. You can’t rely on the group to help you solve problems or find your way around a foreign city, because it’s just you.
Solo travel is such a great thing, but this independence is something that might scare a lot of people away from trying it. Don’t let it scare it you. You will gain all of these useful life skills, and you will FEEL the strength and confidence that comes along with them. You could even think of solo travel as a crash course in life.
6 Things You’ll Learn as a Solo Traveler
1. Navigational Skills
Traveling alone requires you to get around a new city or country all by yourself. You’ll have to learn how to read a map (or let’s be real, how to read a maps app on your phone) if you’re going to get anywhere. Whether you’re just trying to get from your hostel to an attraction on the other side of town, or you’re planning your route to the other side of the country, your navigational skills will have to improve quickly in order to figure it out. Once you spend some time navigating a foreign country, you’ll return home a human compass.
2. Communication Skills
Communication is KEY to…well, all facets of life actually. But it’s especially important when traveling alone. You have to learn how to communicate with people, even if they speak a different language. You’ll have to communicate problems to employees/customer service reps. You’ll have to make sure you order your food correctly. You’ll be socializing with other travelers and locals. It takes both verbal AND non-verbal communication to get through a trip smoothly.
3. Problem-Solving Skills
A lot of problems arise while traveling, and if you’re traveling by yourself, you’re the only one who can fix those problems. You lose your luggage, something was stolen from your dorm room, your phone broke on a night out, the accommodation you booked “lost” your reservation…whether it’s in your control or not, whether it’s your fault or not, you have to solve a ton of problems all on your own, and the more you do it, the better you become at solving issues. After a long trip, you won’t hesitate to find answers, and little bumps in the road won’t even faze you.
4. Budgeting Skills
Every trip requires some budgeting skills. You need to keep track of your money, you need to stay on budget in order to actually get from one place to another (and ideally get home at some point), and you need to understand how much things cost. You may not be great with money, but once you’ve done some traveling ON YOUR OWN DIME, you’ll realize that there’s a trick to making money last. If you plan your travel budget and make wise decisions, you might just return home a financial pro.
5. Decision-Making Skills
When you’re a solo traveler, there’s no one else around to hold your hand and make decisions for you. It’s ALL up to you. Every decision, big or small, will be made by you. Where to stay, where to eat, which attractions to visit, how long you’ll be staying somewhere…and more importantly, making quick decisions when a problem arises. While traveling, you’ll make so many decisions throughout a single day, it will be so much easier doing it at home too.
6. Language Skills
As a solo traveler in a country that doesn’t speak your language, you’ll quickly pick up on basic words and phrases. If you don’t, your experience is going to be frustrating more than anything else. When you’re traveling with other people, it’s easy to rely on them if you don’t know the language. But if you’re alone, it’s up to you to communicate with employees, locals, etc. And the more you speak with people, the more you’ll start to understand their language. People learn languages SO MUCH faster when they’re speaking with natives rather than trying to learn at home.
One of the best parts about solo travel, in my opinion, is how much you can learn and grow during that experience. It’s not that everyone changes and becomes a different person just because they’re traveling, but it’s a good opportunity to push yourself. Traveling alone can really teach you a lot about life and how to navigate its many obstacles, especially if you are open to learning and growing.
I know that traveling alone personally taught me a lot about money and budgeting, and it taught me how to solve problems on my own. Those are skills that I’ve taken into my everyday life, outside of traveling. And I think I’m a better version of myself because of it.
So if you’re worried that you’re not ready to travel solo because you’re inexperienced, let me reassure you: you will learn so much along the way. You will adapt and you will figure things out as you go. Learning by doing is always the best method anyways!
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- The Introvert’s Guide to Hostel Life
- How to Deal with Post Travel Depression
- 7 Things Travel Has Given Me
- How to Eat Alone While Traveling
- What to Do By Yourself on Vacation
- How to Make Friends in Hostels
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