Some of us travel to learn.
All of us learn as we travel.
Those who travel solo are even more likely to learn about themselves as well as the world as they go.
Where do you really want to go and why?
Who are you when no one's looking?
What do you do with your time when there are no demands on it?
You can best learn the answers to all these questions when traveling solo.
Travel Solo To Learn Practical Life Skills
I have learned so much traveling solo. I'm going to point out a few of the more unusual things that can be learned by traveling on your own. Below, members of our Facebook community share some of the wonderful lessons they have learned from travel.
- Going solo you learn to manage the details. Before traveling solo, in another business lifetime, I traveled for work and my co-worker would take my passport, airline ticket, etc., from me so that they would not get lost. If she hadn't, they likely would have gone astray. I have left behind a few things. I even left my passport on the security conveyor belt once. Fortunately, I got it back. But traveling solo has taught me to be aware of my things, be consistent with where I keep them, and always look back for what I might have left behind when leaving a seat. It has definitely taught me to manage the details.
- Traveling alone you can develop a sense of direction. While I always thought that I had a good sense of direction, it was not until I traveled solo that it was really put to the test. Being solo means being the only navigator. It's a great time to test and/or develop your sense of direction. From what I've read, the best way to develop a sense of direction is to create an awareness of your surroundings based on the four points of the compass. If you know where north is, you can easily determine east (on your right), west (on your left), and south (the opposite direction). By constantly connecting your walking route to north by using a compass, like this bracelet compass, you will eventually develop a natural sense of direction.
- Traveling solo you can build physical strength on your terms. On my trip to France I walked 80 km in six days. I was a little concerned about my strength and endurance for this trip as I had walked 18 km one day in Tokyo recently and was totally exhausted from it. So, when I returned home I went into training. And, just as it would be on the walking paths solo, it was all about me. I was competing against no one but myself and improving my physical stamina for me alone. I walked 24 km one day and still felt great and ready to go out in the evening. You can read about how I trained here: Physical Training for Travel: Preparing for Demanding Trips
Solo Travel to Learn Life Lessons
Our readers often share what they have learned about themselves when traveling solo. So we thought we would compile some of their thoughts here. We asked members of The Solo Travel Society on Facebook, “What has solo travel taught you about yourself?” Here's what they had to say.
Travel Solo and Learn How to be Open
- Günter – To be open for new adventures
- Maxine – I am more open to meeting other people when I'm out in the world on my own!
- Kiara – Patience, planning, independence, self-reliance, culture, acceptance… and a whole lot more!
- Suzanne – That mountains are not my favorite places. Too chilly, even in summer.
- Sylvie – That everything is simple and that we often over-think instead of just living the moment. Road trips in my own company with a good playlist are my favorite kind! Letting the road take me and stopping when I feel like it. Freedom.
Travel Solo to Learn How Strong You Really Are
- Micheline – That I can usually figure a way out of dilemmas.
- Senora – I've learned that I'm smarter and stronger than I thought and that unless I'm on fire or missing a limb, nothing is a crisis. I can handle it!
- Ilona – That I am a lot braver away from home on my own, than when surrounded by things and people I know. Weird, but true!
- Sarah – That I am capable of navigating public transportation perfectly well in other cities on the first day, despite still getting lost in NYC after living in the Northeast for 20 years.
- Dawn – That I CAN.
- Ian – To be more confident in myself. I still remember my first solo trip and the dilemma about where to eat. Could I go into a restaurant and ask for a table for one? When I took the plunge, I discovered it's fine to be solo. Restaurant staff spend a bit more time talking with you, and you can find out where to go and see around the region easier. Driving abroad, as a solo, means you can go where you want, when you want, and spend as much or as little time there as you wish.
- Jfur – To feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Manish – I'm much more capable than I thought I was.
- Gwen – I am resourceful, powerful, and I can do it.
- Kristeen – That I can do anything I want to.
- Tracy – That I am stronger than those who put me down (because THEY are not strong) would have me believe. A LOT stronger.
Travel Solo and Learn That You Can
- Jennifer – That I prefer to travel alone!
- Moya – You can be alone when you choose, or can find company any time.
- Dani – When there's so much more out there, there is really no good reason to wait any longer for a better time to go do it. Waiting for whatever is missing out.
- Nadia – To be sure of what I want and what I don´t want in my life, to say “no” when it´s necessary, to enjoy myself, to allow myself to do what I please.
- John – That if I haven't had enough sleep, I don't care who painted that damn altarpiece.
- Maria -That I don't miss my job at all!
- Robert – That I like company. Even when younger I wound up hooking up with someone for company.
- Andrea – That I am happiest when my travel involves a mix of city and nature. I do love to explore historical cities but I can't get enough of being out of a city, in nature, and especially close to animals in their natural habitat, on land or in the ocean.
- Myrna – I have learned that I don't need to wait 'til someone is available to go on a trip; I can go by myself and actually prefer it. I think about the last two trips I took with others and there was always the feeling of having to accommodate others. On my own I can see and do what I want when I want.
- Linda – That I can be alone and have just as much fun (if not more) alone. It brings me much more serenity.
- Emily – That I love it so much that it's an indicator I may not be cut out for a relationship; that I am stronger than I think; that I alone am in charge of my own destiny; that if I die while traveling alone I will die in the happiest state known to Emily; that no matter where someone is born into the world, we all have the same basic human needs (to be accepted, to be heard, etc) and are more alike than we are different; that being a traveler is who I am…it's like the air I breathe….I must have it; that people appreciate a simple smile more than you know; that through travel, I have grown and my likes, dislikes, desires, etc., have evolved in the last few years.
- Maureen – Being grateful for the experiences, adventures, and stories that my travels have brought into my life. I believe if you embrace solo travel with as much wonder on the inside as the outside you will return home with a renewed sense of self. Every trip is an adventure, and a challenge that gives me a sense of accomplishment, pride and empowerment. Where next is the question.
With such a strong sense of being capable it must be said that it's still important to travel smart. Here are a few of our posts that will help you travel well.
- 5 Top Travel Apps Plus a Few Essentials for Every Trip
- Bare Minimum Packing: Here’s Your Packing List
- VPN for Travel: What, Why and an Easy Setup Guide
- Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must
- Bare Minimum Packing – Travel Gear!