Anyone who has traveled solo for a substantial length of time will tell you that it is an incredible way to see the world. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but for those of us who take on this life-changing challenge, it can bring incredible rewards. In this post, we’ll share 33 reasons why solo travel will totally change the way you see and interact with the world around you. (We hope it will convince some of you to try it for yourselves one day!)
1. You become comfortable spending time on your own.
Whether you’re on a long train ride or taking some down time in a city, you never feel like you always have to be around others in order to enjoy your travels.
2. Budgeting becomes second nature.
Street food? Yes please. Hostels? Any day. Making small sacrifices becomes easy (and necessary) when you have to be responsible for your own budget.
3. You’re a boss at knowing how to manage your time.
You know that everyone has a different travel style, so you choose your itinerary based on YOUR preferences. Don’t like museums? Avoid them. Enjoy eating? Schedule 5 meals a day. It’s your life. Manage it however you please.
4. Eating alone doesn’t bother you anymore.
For many people, eating alone feels awkward and sad. But for you, it’s a way to enjoy a delicious meal in your own beautiful company.
5. You can open your eyes even more to the world around you.
Instead of being glued to your selfie cam or engulfed in a conversation with your best friend, you can simply absorb every. single. little. thing. around you while traveling. No distractions.
6. You learn some pretty amazing social skills.
Let’s face it. Some people are awkward. But when you have to go out of your comfort zone and talk to strangers in order to have any human interaction whatsoever, you become pretty darn good at it.
7. And your language skills are up to snuff.
You know that the only way to connect with locals is to speak their language (even if it’s just a few words), and you learn quickly thorough immersion.
8. You learn how to bargain for a fair price while traveling.
…and you can do it without being a jerk.
9. You become a “yes” person.
When there’s an opportunity to do something really cool and unique, you jump on it and keep an open mind about it.
10. Because you’re forced to figure things out for yourself, you learn how to be resourceful.
Who knew that learning how to navigate public transit or reschedule a flight ticket wasn’t common knowledge? Whether you have to figure out how to save money in an expensive city, or get yourself to a hospital in a place where you don’t speak the language, resourcefulness is one of the greatest skills solo travel can teach.
11. You learn a lot of random and interesting facts about history, culture, and traditions around the world.
AKA, you basically become a human encyclopedia.
12. And you’re also pretty good about deciding when it’s worth it to splurge.
If you’ve been dreaming about dining at that Michelin-star restaurant or staying at that amazing hotel, why not do it? You know you can always cut your spending elsewhere.
13. You don’t care about other judgmental travelers.
People will judge you no matter what. They’ll judge you if you have a rolling suitcase. Or if you’re carrying a dirty backpack. Other people will give you crap for what you wear and how you act. You can choose to hear it or ignore it. A solo traveler learns to choose the latter.
14. You’re also hyper-sensitive about not standing out too much.
While many tour groups stick out like a sore thumb, solo travelers can easily blend in with the locals.
15. You know the amazing value of taking responsible risks.
Many people are risk-averse. Solo travel teaches us how to evaluate risks and determine whether they’re responsible or not.
16. You also know how to tell people to back off.
Solo travelers know how to tell people to get away, or to protect themselves when someone is making them feel unsafe. They’re not afraid to speak their mind in situations where it’s necessary.
17. You develop strong intuition about other people.
Whether they’re good or bad, your intuition can often tell you a lot about a person. And as a solo traveler, you come to rely on this intuition more and more.
18. Safety and vigilance become the most important thing to you.
Safety while traveling is a contentious topic for solo travelers, but it’s one you find very important. Because of this, you always buy travel insurance and protect yourself in every way possible while traveling.
19. You can expertly disguise yourself as a local almost anywhere.
Or, if you can’t, you at least learn how to blend in as much as possible.
20. Kind and friendly people often want to adopt you.
Like some curious female Buddhist monks in Myanmar. Or an Ixil-Mayan family in Guatemala.
21. You’re often willing to help a fellow human out.
Because you know that, when you’re in a bind, it’s likely that some kind stranger will help you out, too.
22. And you learn that karma really does exist.
What goes around, comes around.
23. You grow thick skin.
Sometimes people will do terrible things, like stealing from you or cat-calling you on the street. After a while, though, you become toughened to these mishaps and are less scared to put people in their place.
24. You don’t waste time waiting for others to be ready.
Because sometimes, they’ll never be ready. Solo travel teaches us to see the world when we’re ready to go, even if it means going alone.
25. Starting a conversation with a stranger becomes second-nature.
It’s a matter of using the right “friend pickup lines” and not being awkward about it.
26. You learn about the world through the people around you.
Instead of reading about the world in textbooks or watching it on TV, you travel to those places and ask questions of the people who live there. After all, immersion is the most authentic way to learn.
27. You aren’t constrained by anyone else.
Your schedule, your itinerary, your budget…the only person who gets to decide how to manage those things is you.
28. Independence becomes your middle name.
You can basically do anything on your own.
29. You become less afraid to question the status quo.
Seeing so many places in so many parts of the world makes you question how your own society does things.
30. You learn introspection.
You know how to think about your travel experiences in the context of your own life, and can evaluate how they’ve changed you in different ways. It can be difficult to be self-critical, but solo travel teaches you that it’s necessary.
31. You become more educated and tolerant throughout your travels.
After seeing so many places and meeting people from all walks of life, relying on many of them for your own well-being on the road, you become much more compassionate. You can say things like “I know where you’re coming from” and actually mean it.
32. After a while, you’ll end up with lifelong friendships from around the world.
No matter where in the world you are traveling, you’re never at a loss for couches to sleep on or friends to call.
33. You become fearless.
You have seen a LOT on your travels. Solo travel teaches you that the world isn’t a scary or cold place. And the more you travel solo, the less you are afraid to tackle the world head-on.
* * *
What has solo taught you? How has it changed you for the better? Share your experiences in the comments!