“Travel is like an endless university. You never stop learning,” famously said photographer Harvey Llyod. And how true! You always come back enriched from a trip – whether it is an adventure of a lifetime or a short weekend getaway. Travel exposes you to new cultures, allows you to interact with different people, and broadens your horizons as nothing else can. And when you travel solo, you not only learn about the rest of the world but also discover things about yourself.
Here are eight important lessons solo travel can teach you…
To take charge: It is human tendency to choose to be surrounded by friends and family most of the time, who often influence your life. So, it is only natural to ask their advice and opinions when making all kinds of decisions. Solo travel does away with this kind of dependency. When you travel alone, you face new situations every day. You learn to think for yourself, take control of your destiny, follow your intuition, become confident, and be the captain of your own voyage.
To step out of your comfort zone: Being in a familiar place, around the same faces, and doing the same things is routine and comfortable. And if you really want to challenge and push yourself, stepping away from all this is an ideal way to do so. When you are out on your own, there is no choice but to leave this comfort zone behind. You open yourself up to the ways of new places, their people, cultures, foods, and more. Only when you make this move, you realise how exhilarating the unknown can be.
To make new friends: While travelling alone brings you the solitude you often crave, it also helps you appreciate human interaction. It offers the chance to meet new people and make friends with fellow travellers. You get to swap stories, learn about their lives and create bonds that can sometimes last a lifetime. There is nothing more freeing than opening up to strangers and turning random meet-ups into beautiful relationships.
To love yourself: Self-love is one of the best forms of love, and it tends to get overlooked due to hectic schedules and other commitments. Solo travel gives you enough time to get in touch with your inner self, learn new things about yourself and get comfortable with being alone. When you go sightseeing or have a meal unaccompanied, you learn that being alone is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is an opportunity to be truly yourself.
To be tolerant and patient: Visiting new places and getting to know real people breaks stereotypes and pre-conceived notions you may have. When you realise that strangers and local embrace you without any inhibitions, you start to become more tolerant and open-minded irrespective of other people’s religious beliefs, culture, history and the way they look. Travelling solo also makes you more patient. From weather issues to flight delays, you realise there’s no point worrying about things you cannot control. You pick yourself up, learn to assess the situation and come up with Plan B. And this can be a valuable life lesson.
To value experiences over things: You realise quickly on a solo trip that the brand on your clothes or shoes doesn’t matter. What’s more important is the stories you hear and the memories you make. It isn’t about the restaurants you eat in but the flavours you taste. And years later, when you look back at this time, you will remember the liberating, elated feeling of driving on long stretches of road as the sun rises; just you, your thoughts, and your favourite MG car.
To be grateful: Lastly, as you immerse yourself in new surroundings, it can open your eyes to how privileged your life is and how you are blessed with so many more opportunities that countless others around you do not have. It teaches you to never take things for granted and to be thankful for all the great stuff that comes your way.
Travelling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. So, get out there and experience the world. It will teach you so many wonderful things. But, most importantly, it will teach you that you are more powerful than you know.