Need some convincing pursue solo travel? Look no further. I’m a huge advocate for doing things yourself. Yes, it can get frustrating if you need help and don’t have anyone to ask/rely on, however, it’s also empowering to know that you can handle it yourself.
Outside of tackling regular life tasks by yourself, solo travel abroad can add to that sense of self-confidence, self-reliance, and knowledge of your own power and capability. While going it alone in a foreign country can be very daunting, it can also contribute to personal growth and development by helping you become a better person and by providing you with lifelong skills.
I’ve divided up these points into skills and personal growth. Hopefully, these will convince you that solo travel is something that you can do, and even should do, even if it’s just once in your life.
Let’s start with skills
1 – You’ll discover your travel style
The first thing you’ll realize is whether you are a planner or if you prefer to just wing it. Your travel style can say a lot about you and sometimes going solo is the best way to figure out what your preferences are. Having to select where you want to go, what you want to see, and how to spend your time can be an eye-opener in realizing your tastes and your priorities.
Knowing your style contributes to your skillset because then you can start making moves to hone your decision making and developing strategies for travel that fit your personality and preferences. Like anything, honing your decision making is a skill set that takes practice. As soon as you learn this about yourself, the quicker you’ll get to refining your approach!
2 – Solo travel will boost your budgeting skills
How you decide to spend your travel budget, when you’re alone, can also teach you a lot about yourself. When you don’t have a buddy to split costs with, your true preference on how you are willing to part with funds, and what you’re willing to tolerate in regards to roughing it, or sacrificing certain comforts, will all come to the surface.
3 – You’ll learn how to pack efficiently
During solo travel, it’s just you, there’s no one to help with a potentially heavy suitcase, or anyone to assist with juggling multiple bags. This is especially important on a multi-city/country journey where you’ll be hauling your stuff around on multiple modes of public transportation. Packing lightly takes not only practice but confidence in your decisions. The anxiety you feel in not packing an extra outfit or extra shoes? You need to handle it and make the courageous decision to leave it behind and manage with what you take.
4 – Troubleshooting issues and asking for help will become second nature
The daunting task of approaching strangers and asking for help, or figuring out which wrong turn you made and where will no longer be an issue for you. You have no choice when you’re alone. You either figure it out or approach a stranger.
Hand in hand with this…
5 – Solo travel will sharpen your instincts
Your ability to get a sense of people, get a sense of danger, trustworthiness, whether or not going down a road seems safe, will all become stronger. Honing your instincts, and learning to listen to them, is a skill that requires practice. There’s nothing like going on a solo trip abroad to help exercise those intuition muscles!
6 – You’ll improve your adaptability
Being alone, having no help and no one to talk to can lead to loneliness and even panic and anxiety. Adapting to that kind of condition and navigating those waters can improve how you approach other life adversities as well.
Depending on where your solo travel takes you, you may also come to better appreciate all the things you do have. For instance, seeing the impoverished states of some of the world’s populations can bring out a sense of gratitude for the life you live, no matter how difficult it may or may not be. Having such an experience can make you more empathetic and less afraid to tackle difficult challenges or situations when you come home.
Now for personal growth
7 – You’ll boost your confidence and self-esteem
It’s empowering to know that you are able to plan, budget, pack and then navigate another part of the globe all on your own. Coming home, you’ll be a whole new person armed with new skills, new appreciation for what you have, and a sense of “yea I got this”.
For some, taking that step with solo travel and experiencing personal growth means that you will find the confidence you’ve been lacking; or elevate your self-esteem to where you then have the courage to tackle other life issues. Learning where you stand in this regard, and improving upon it, can trickle into other areas.
8 – You’ll get to know yourself so much better than before
Having 100% time to yourself and taking the time to talk to yourself and spend time doing things that you want to do, no questions asked, can be a game-changer. This is the biggest advantage of solo travel. That time and those moments can help you gain perspective on your goals, wants, desires, and issues that you’ve been dealing with.
9 – You may be able to make major life decisions
Sometimes the best way to gain perspective is to get away and not think about whatever it is that’s stressing you out. By taking a mental break, you’ll remember what matters most to you, your life goals and priorities and the trajectory you want to take.
Solo travel is a great way to come to any conclusion because you have the time and the space to learn about yourself, your hopes, dreams, ideas, wants, or desires, and there’s no outside noise or opinions getting in your way. Instead, you can truly take the time to think about YOU, your social, emotional, intellectual self and make a decision independent of anyone else.
10 – You’ll become more grounded
It’s easy to get carried away pursuing things that don’t actually matter (lots of money, nice clothes, nice car, fancy Instagram stories), and lose sight of those things that are most important. Everyone has a different set of priorities and things that are important to them, however, the overall importance of family, true friends, satisfying work, personal fulfillment in life and at work, sometimes fall to the wayside.
Traveling, in general, can change all of this. When you see what the rest of the world is dealing with, your menial problems no longer hold any value. You come to realize that you have way more than most of the world’s population and you become much more grateful. Wanting what you already have and showing gratitude are two important steps in creating your own satisfaction and happiness. Those superficial pursuits will no longer hold any significance. Seeing and realizing all of this when traveling solo can give it much more weight.
11 – You’ll start making a bucket list
This may not hold true for everyone, especially if you’re the spontaneous sort, but many people that I’ve talked to, once they start traveling, want to start planning to see more. How do you keep track? Write it down. My own bucket list can be found here. For me, there’s something about writing it down that makes it legitimate. If it’s written down I HAVE to do it one day. I’m more likely to hold myself accountable to make it happen.
Again, traveling, in general, can feed this motivation, but I think once you do something on your own, it becomes easier for you to plan on tackling the rest of your list. You’ll no longer be dependent on anyone else; instead, you’ll likely start making plans for yourself.
I believe in the power of the bucket list because I think life is too short to not experience as much as you possibly can. Having a list is having the motivation to get those things done that you truly want to do. And how gratifying, and satisfying, is it to cross off items once you complete them?
Overall, personal growth means that you better yourself, that you continue learning new things and developing new skills. Why is this important? It’s so that you become better able to deal with life changing events, can handle the obstacles that come your way, and overcome adversity. As we get older, life get’s harder and more complicated. Only by pursuing personal growth intentionally can we become our best, capable version of ourselves.
Solo travel is a great way to contribute to personal growth. Everyone’s personal growth journey will be different, yet all the lessons learned will be just as valuable.
If you need help figuring out how you can prepare for and spend your time abroad on your solo trip then check out these articles:
Pinnable image courtesy of unsplash.com
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.