You’re lost, you don’t speak the language, you have a heavy backpack on, and you’re sweating profusely, trying not to cry in public. You’re overwhelmed and scared. You sit down on a bench and try to pull yourself together. You look up and suddenly recognize a store across the street and you remember where you are.
You manage to communicate a little in the native language and a little in English to the woman at the market and then she gives you the ripest melon you’ve ever tasted. You’ve met a new friend and she can help you get back to your hostel.
You’re still holding back tears, but now it’s not because you’re scared, but it’s because you just learned to trust yourself and the people around you—all while looking at the most overwhelming and breathtaking views you’ve ever seen. Your new friend taught you a few new words in her native language. A little more knowledge and a stranger’s kindness makes your feeling of isolation disappear.
Photo by Julian Dik
You just learned that not only could you make it on your own; you can thrive on your own. You can conquer the world. And you will.
Traveling alone is a scary and courageous thing to do. Most people avoid it because there’s too much uncertainty and isolation. But once you allow yourself the freedom of being scared, you’ll realize there’s no better education than solo travel. Here are just a few things you might learn.
1. You actually can do anything.
Once you’ve managed to navigate multiple subway systems in multiple languages, everything else that once seemed daunting, will feel like a walk in the park.
2. You realize that life doesn’t have to be so complicated.
While you were away, you figured out how to live on $20 a day including a bed, food, and transportation. It helps you remember not to worry about the little things like wearing the latest trends and going to the trendiest restaurants. Happiness is lost when we seek it externally.
3. The power of kindness is limitless.
Eventually, you’re going to need help. You’ll need to ask for directions, ask for food and water or a place to stay and the kindness of others will be everywhere. It will overwhelm and humble you beyond words. It will empower you to pay it forward and help other travelers, or visitors in your own city.
4. Your own city will seem like a whole new place.
When you return from a solo trip, the sense of adventure and curiosity doesn’t leave you. You’ll look at your home city as a new place to explore and discover. There are always new things to do and new people to meet. You might even join some type of club that can connect you to like-minded people. Who knows! The options are endless!
5. There’s no better way to gain more self-confidence.
There’s no one to rely on but you. You will realize that you can be your own best friend. You’ll realize you have a lot more strengths than you thought and you can pretty much do anything with just a little willpower and a touch of savvy.
If not knowing who to travel with has been holding you back from seeing the world, stop now. You will become a better version of yourself in ways you didn’t realize were possible when you travel solo.
Do it for yourself. See the world.
Preparing for your solo travel to a country where you don't speak the language? Sign up for your language course today.