Five years ago, I went on my very first solo trip. And yes, I was a bit scared! When you traveling solo, you’ll learn some lessons. In this article, I’ll share 8 lessons that solo travel has taught me.
Traveling solo: my experience
My first experience as a solo traveler was in 2013 when I visited a friend in Costa Rica. We spent most of my time there exploring the country, but during the last 5 days of the trip, I went to Manuel Antonio by myself. I was a bit scared to travel alone for the first time and I barely spoke any Spanish, but everything went smoothly, I met a lot of interesting people and I had a lot of fun!
My first big solo trip was in 2015 when I traveled to Australia. It took me 30 hours to get there from The Netherlands, and I was really excited. The second I saw a group of kangaroos, I was so happy. How awesome was it to finally be in the country that had been on the top of my bucket list for years?
My plan was to alternate between staying in hostels and hotels (as a 30-something traveler, I presumed I was too old for hostel life), but I ended up staying in hostels all the time. I met so many great people, saved tons of money and it was so much fun! My four weeks in Australia were over before I knew it, and I thought to myself, I love traveling solo!
After my first big solo trip to Australia, I traveled solo to The Philipines, Peru, Lisbon, and last year I spent three months in the United States.
Traveling solo: 8 lessons I’ve learned
I’ve been traveling solo quite a lot in the last few years, and I noticed that solo travel has taught me a lot. In this article, I’d like to share the lessons I’ve learned by traveling alone.
You learn to make decisions faster
When you travel solo, you’re the one that makes all the decisions. You can’t consult with a traveling partner and have to decide what to do yourself. Over time, you’ll notice that making decisions gets easier and you’ll make them faster. Which can be very useful in everyday life!
Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you’re alone all the time
Whenever I tell people that I’ve decided to travel solo, I usually get comments like ‘I could never do that, being alone all the time’. In reality, my solo trips are usually my most social trips! When you’re traveling solo, it’s way easier to meet people, than when you travel with a partner. It’s also easier to meet locals when you’re traveling alone, which makes your trip so much more interesting.
You’ll learn to trust your instinct
One of the other things I’ve noticed after traveling solo for some time is that it’s easier to trust my instinct. During my first solo trips, I couldn’t really sense if something was safe or not. But now, I know that I need to listen to my gut if I’m in a situation where I’m not feeling comfortable.
I was walking once in the gorgeous Peruvian city of Arequipa when it was starting to get dark. At some point, I noticed that some men were following me, and that didn’t feel right. I decided to get out of the cute little streets and walked back to my hostel on the large well-lit shopping street, and felt much safer immediately.
You’ll figure out what kind of traveler you are
Do you know what kind of traveler you are? I always assumed I’d prefer luxury and city trips over camping in nature. But ever since I started traveling solo, I noticed that I like to escape cities as soon as possible. I do like to spend a night or so in a fancy hotel every once in a while, but I’m always happier when I’m waking up in my tent with a great mountain view.
You’ll learn what’s important in your life (and what’s not)
Not only will you discover what kind of traveler you are when you’re traveling solo, but you’ll also learn what’s important to you (and what’s not). The more I travel, the less stupid stuff I buy. I prefer great travel memories over having a lot of things in my house that I barely use. And when I travel, I like to travel as light as possible. The less I have to worry about things, the more I can enjoy my trip.
Most people are good
If you have to believe the daily news, the world is filled with idiots. Nothing is less true. When you travel alone, you’ll meet a ton of people. Yes, some can be stupid and try to rip you off, but most people are nice. A great book about this subject is Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman.
You’ll learn to have patience
You don’t have patience? Try traveling solo! Travel isn’t always going from one place to another, sometimes you’ll have to wait for a long time to reach a new destination. When you’re at an airport, a train station, or an excursion, you’ll have to wait. When you travel with a partner, you usually fill the time chatting, but that’s not possible when you travel solo. It might look like time is going really slow, but you’ll get used to that at some point.
Being alone is not that bad
Being alone is not something horrible. You’ll be fine alone, but sometimes you just have to learn how to be alone. There are so many things you can do while you’re alone! I like to read books or practice photography. Traveling solo is the perfect time to learn a new skill because you don’t have any distractions.
These are the eight lessons that traveling solo has taught me. Have you ever traveled solo? And what did you learn? Let me know by leaving a comment!
Would you like to read more about solo travel?
Check out one of these articles:
Or check out one of these amazing books: