As hipstery/tumblr as it sounds, travelling changes you a lot whether thats your intention or not. Travelling for the better part of a year and experiencing a whole lot of different cultures and situations I have been lucky enough to gain from all of this. Whilst I could go on forever talking about what I have gained from my time travelling, mostly solo, and about the benefits of travelling, I have compiled a short list of the top ten things I have learnt and realised while travelling. Enjoy!
Alone time is good for you Pointing out the obvious, solo travel means a lot of the time I am alone. For someone that is quite introverted like myself I am happy to be alone, but for those that prefer to be surrounded by others its good to be alone sometimes. Travel gives you the chance to get to know yourself more, take time and enjoy whatever you want to do. While there was times when yes, having friends with me would have been fun, my itinerary could be all what I wanted allowing me to be selfish and not compromise with others. That being said, I did not realise how much I would miss having company at times, but that was never a problem as there was always someone to hang out with – especially in hostels! They are a perfect match for solo travel, just make sure you pick one thats right for you, they range from wild party places to yoga retreat on a budget so theres one for everyone!
You are stronger than you think This relates to my previous point. You have to graft when doing solo travel, its not all instaworthy shots and meeting new people. Whether its something as basic as surviving a hike with no GPS, feeling a bit low, carrying your suitcases around, sleeping with all sorts of bugs, or keeping yourself safe in a bad situation. You will know what to do, and learn both physically and mentally how to deal with situations you would not encounter at home. These skills are then transferable to every day life and can boost up a resume.
Money isn’t everything While I would love to be able to travel and stay in fancy five star resorts, but unless I win the lottery soon that isn’t going to happen. But thats not going to stop me from getting out. Set a budget and plan within it. You will realise that truly experiencing a place you don’t need money. Go out and immerse yourself in local everyday culture, hang out with locals, ask what they suggest doing that isn’t an expensive tourist trap. That is not to say don’t treat yourself, just realise that as long as you have enough money for somewhere to sleep, some food and your way home you are all good! Adventures come free.
Neither is planning I have spoke about planning before on a post. If I don’t have strict lists and plans galore my anxiety creeps out and starts to take over usually, but that has calmed down a lot with travelling. You can’t predict how you will find a situation, a hostel or anything. Be spontaneous, take that trip someone suggests. Get a boat out to an island. Throw caution to the wind a bit. You will only regret what you miss out on!
Push your boundaries Whether its trying a local dish, sleeping out in the middle of nowhere, taking a solo hike or making the first step and booking a plane ticket! Travel is all about pushing your boundaries, stepping out and being bold. Choosing to travel solo for the first time is making the first step right out of your comfort zone.
Be social Travelling solo means you gotta be confident enough to approach people. Whether its for directions, to find out more about the culture, or to make new friends! Speak up! Go talk to others in the hostel and plan a night out. Ask about a cultural tradition you want to know more about. Chances are people are happy to share their culture with you and even more up for hanging out as they are in the same boat. This is where solo travel comes up with one big difference to travelling with a group of friends, with others you are less likely (generally) to meet as many new people as you already have a group with you.
Differences should be celebrated More and more in the world today we see people spreading hate about others and different preferences. There is so much to learn from other cultures and customs and so much to be celebrated and embraced. Don’t shy away from each others and cultural differences. Whether its learning from the people you meet or the countries you are visiting, be open!
Work : Play One thing I found hard adjusting to was enjoying everything and having fun whilst also getting my work done. While most of the time they overlapped, there was times I needed to just sit down and crack on with editing and sorting out interviews. Sometimes I would work too much, other times I would do too much of the opposite but it gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my time management and self organisation!
Appreciate the small things Both at home and away. The constant wifi, comfy bed and hot showers at home. The sunsets, amazing fresh cheap food and new people while away. Theres so many moments and things we often take for granted its good to slow down take note of them and appreciate it all.