While traveling in any shape or form is a welcome activity to most of us, traveling solo is an alluring concept for many of us. Why? Because solo traveling is so different from traveling with a group or spouse or family. There are some things only solo travelers can understand, like the true freedom, spontaneity, and complete lack of anything familiar.
Solo travelers are the true free spirits of the traveling world. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
There is an element of uniqueness about the adventures of solo travelers, for their adventures are a completely different experience from those who travel together. There are some things only solo travelers can understand, including Natalie Goldberg when she wrote, “ Anything we do fully is an alone journey.”
When you travel a lot by yourself, you get used to backing yourself up. No one else is there to look intimidating, but it doesn’t bother you to travel outside of a safe group. You know how to stand up for yourself and not become a target to anyone, from the in your face street vendors in to the slightly terrifying gang members in downtown LA. You’ve got this. You know how to push and shove to get what you want. You know how to work yourself out of an unexpected predicament and how to not back down from your goals.
When you travel a lot, you’re bound to end up outside your comfort zone. You aren’t afraid to ask for help, and you know the difference between just wandering and truly lost. You know how to ask for what you want, and how to get what you want and go where you want. You know how to use others to help achieve your goals, even if your goal is only finding a grocery store in the middle of a foreign city where no one speaks your language. You not only realize you need others to help out, but you appreciate them as well. This makes you really great at asking for advice and help, because you know the importance of it.
When you travel by yourself, you spend a lot of time with just you. And you’re ok with that because you are comfortable being with you. You like who you are, and you know how to joke with yourself, push yourself, and better yourself. This actually makes you more fun to be around, because you are comfortable enough in who you are that you don’t feel the need to put others down. Instead you can encourage others and make them feel better as well because you are already secure in who you are.
Moving a lot can help you learn to make new friends, but solo travelers really know what it is like to be the only person even speaking your language or the only person with your hair color in a 100 mile radius. As a result, you quickly learn how to approach others, befriend strangers, and not stay isolated by yourself. You know how to make friends easily and comfortably because you’re not dependent on friends to survive. You’re friendly and like to meet new people around the globe; you always look forward to making new friends wherever you go.
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People like planning things with you because you have much fewer commitments than people who travel with their family and friends. You can be up for anything because you’re the only person whose vote counts, and you don’t need to double check or verify with someone else before packing your bags and leaving. You can literally get up and go, change your plans at the last minute, or decide to stay an extra month. It doesn’t matter, because you don’t have any baggage you are committed to. You are carefree, up for anything, and you like spontaneous adventures.
Frequent solo travelers learn how to appreciate others because they realize that a lot of life takes teamwork. Even when you are traveling by yourself you still interact with others on a daily basis and are dependent on others. You learn to quickly appreciate the friendly advice in a new place or the cab driver who helped you reach the airport on time. You learn a great deal about the importance of interaction when it isn’t forced by the same people over and over again. Your frequent travels help you appreciate how much we all contribute as a whole to make each other’s lives possible, and you can easily see the threads that string us all together.
Because you interact so much with people from all over the globe, your mind is much more challenged. Your opinions are constantly being changed, formed, and ideas are constantly being put into different perspectives because you aren’t hanging out with the same group of friends for your entire life. Instead, you are constantly running into people and sharing ideas, opinions, and thoughts. You keep an open mind because you aren’t afraid of new ideas or cultural shifts.
Solo traveling brings about just as much peace of self as it does joy in others. Time alone on the road leaves a lot of time for self reflection and to discover yourself in each different place you travel. But you also are constantly meeting new people, making new friends, and depending on others to help out in a pinch. You know how to stand on your own while accepting help. You know how to be comfortable alone and appreciate time with others. This kind of mantra that solo travelers live out is one of the most balanced appreciative ways to walk through life. You are happy in yourself, happy with others, and just more happy than the average person in general.
Solo travelers have an air of confidence and self-assurance that is different from other travelers. It’s because you know how to do things, and if anything needs to get done, you’re the one who has to do it; there isn’t anyone ready to pull you up, help you out, or pick you up when you’re down. You , travel across boundaries, order meals in foreign languages, figure out where the hospital is at, etc. You do all of this by yourself, because no one else is there to do it for you. When you successfully travel and continue to travel solo, you gain a confidence in yourself because you know you can do just about anything you put your mind to.
Those who travel alone naturally need to be a bit more on their guard, especially when going off the beaten path. Solo you’re an easier target, so you quickly become skilled at reading people, learning the danger signals, and figuring out who is trying to scam you and who is actually offering help. You also see much more of the world because you are frequently traveling to new places where everything is new, so you have a much bigger perspective on people than others. You can easily understand more about where the other person is coming from and their background.
If something goes wrong while you’re traveling, which is almost always, (who actually has a travel agenda that works out as planned without some sort of deviation from the schedule?) you don’t have any travel group or spouse to blame. If something gets messed up, it’s on you. You learn to take responsibility for your actions, and to move on and grow from those experiences. You don’t sit around blaming other people for your life because if you did, you would miss out on what life has to offer you. Instead you push forward and keep traveling on.
Solo travelers know that when the going gets tough, they’re the ones who have to cheer themselves up. There isn’t a back up pal to pick you up or find the silver lining, or even entertain yourself on a long road trip. You learn how to make yourself laugh and don’t take yourself to seriously. Internal conversations, external dialog with yourself, funky dance moves to the radio; you’ve got it all down and it cracks you up. You can find the funny side of any situation, and know how to cheerfully keep going.
I’ve never met someone who traveled and didn’t have a great story or two to share from the experience. Traveling inevitably leads to moments you’ll never forget and that are worth sharing. But when you don’t have anyone else who was there with you, you need to remember all the details yourself, and tell the story every time. Because you are the only person sharing the experience, you learn how to tell stories in an entertaining way and how to give details about your adventures to people who weren’t there.
Solo travelers need to make every decision alone that comes their way. Everything from what road you take or even where you get breakfast to where you are traveling to is your choice only. You’re pretty good at being decisive because you make choices on a daily basis. There is no one to second guess you or agree with, so you know you’re own mind and know how to stand by the choices you make. You don’t hesitate when it comes to decision making time, and you also know how to change your mind and be ok with it.
Solo travelers know how to travel light and thrifty. You can easily pack all of your necessities into one small backpack because you aren’t hauling around a family reunion. You also know how to stay cheap, because you can do things like couch surf or sleep under a blanket on the beach if you have to. You can survive off the bare minimum and as a result, have a lot more options when it comes to how and where you travel. You aren’t materialistic and don’t need a lot of items to make life work.
Every knows how to spend time alone, and actually enjoys it. Even the most extroverted person who travels by themselves appreciates spending time with themselves. You like to wander the streets without an accountability in the world, to make your own decisions and to rough it out without anyone there to complain or bring you down. You enjoy getting to know yourself, or just being at peace in a zen state without interacting or distracting yourself with others.
Traveling is such an awakening experience; its when most of us feel truly alive in every moment. When you head out on adventure solo, you live in the moment more intensely because there is less distraction about what he or she said, what your partner is doing, how is everyone feeling, etc. You are completely outside of yourself and in the moment the entire journey because the trip is about the traveling, not about the people you are with. You can feel every moment more fully when you travel alone, including the good and the bad moments.
When you are traveling by yourself, you are constantly having to learn new things. There isn’t anyone to translate for you; you have to learn the new language yourself. You need to learn about where you are going and seeing because there isn’t an expert in the area with you. You need to be your own guide, chef, friend, linguist, and historian. You love to read about new places to go and visit, and this only furthers your ability to soak up new knowledge and ideas on a daily basis. You like to learn and acquire new skills, which makes you an interesting person to be around.
Solo traveling negates any sort of that exists. There is no safety in numbers, or people who know you, or things that are familiar. Literally everything you know is left at home, because it is only you who is venturing out. Any comfort zone or familiarity is at home, and when you travel, everything is brand new. You love being outside of the normal and relish exploring new things and putting yourself in unknown situations. You don’t even know what a comfort zone is any more because you are comfortable being in pretty much any situation.
Needless to say, solo travelers know how to do things by themselves. As much as help from friendly strangers comes in handy, you know how to buckle down when push comes to shove and make things happen. You don’t need anyone holding your hand, making your decisions, or reassuring you. You like doing things yourself and know how to rise to the challenge. You know you can take care of yourself and can live no matter where in the globe you may land.
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