Five things solo travel has taught me

I caught the travel bug in 2008 when I went overseas for the very first time at the ripe old age of 21. It was to Thailand with my friend, and we spent two glorious weeks travelling around the country, taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. We went to Bali the following year, and my passion for travel grew even stronger.

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Nusa Lembongan, Bali

While Southeast Asia is beautiful and exciting, we knew we wanted to venture to Europe on our next overseas adventure. I’ve always been good at saving money, but my friend, less so. So after talking about going to Italy for over a year, and with my friend’s bank balance struggling to grow, I made the decision to go it alone. A solo traveller was born!

Since then, I’ve travelled to 14 countries on my own, and have come to realise that travelling solo is actually my preferred way to travel. Solo travel is so rewarding, but it comes with its challenges.

Here are five things I’ve learnt from travelling the world solo . . .

1. I am so much stronger and more capable than I thought

This is the big one. While I knew I wasn’t some useless weakling dependent upon others for my very survival, I didn’t realise just how capable and independent I could be when put to the test. Navigating foreign airports and transport systems, communicating without knowledge of the language, making decisions about where to stay/eat/sight-see, being aware of your surroundings and personal items, it all takes a lot of energy,

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Milford Sound, New Zealand

organisation and determination. And, believe it or not, it was all so much easier than I thought. It’s funny how self-reliant I’ve become, even in my day-to-day life at home, preferring to figure things out on my own rather than relying on someone else to swoop in and help. Travelling alone promotes you to a level of independence that even Destiny’s Child would be proud of!

2. I like my own company

Being an introvert, this was something that was less realised, and more affirmed. I already knew that I enjoyed spending time on my own and never craved the company of others, but I was still apprehensive about whether I could cope with being completely on my own, in a foreign country, with no familiar faces to keep me company. I was worried I’d get lonely, or that the things I experienced and the sights I saw wouldn’t be as special because I didn’t share them with anyone. Well, I needn’t have been concerned. Being on your own gives you time to really soak in the experiences you have, to reflect on your day, to savour moments that you don’t have to share, that are made just for you. And if you do feel like some company, then there are plenty of apps/social media sites that help you find other travellers in your area, or you can simply strike up a conversation with people at a bar, or join a communal table that many cafes and restaurants have these days (in parts of Europe, communal tables are everywhere. I found this particularly the case in Germany, so pull up a seat and make some new friends!)

3. I have an excellent sense of direction

Before I set out on my own, I was the kind of person who happily followed along as my

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Narrow streets of Rome

friends navigated the way through airports, train stations and foreign cities. I actually came to believe that I had a terrible sense of direction because I could never figure out the way back from anywhere. But I didn’t have a terrible sense of direction, I was lazy. I let my friends to all the hard work and I just followed along blindly. I had no idea how we’d gotten to the restaurant/market/beach so I sure as hell couldn’t find my way back! But on my first solo adventure I realised I didn’t suck at navigating, I was actually quite good at it! Scoping out destinations on Google Maps and then roaming around foreign cities like a pro, AND finding my way back again, made me feel like I could handle anything. Sure, I’ve gotten myself lost plenty of times too, but that’s how you find the hidden treasures of a city that are off the well-worn tourist paths!

4. Airports are designed to be easily navigated

This one might seem like a bit of a “duh!” but having never flown overseas (or anywhere, for that matter) until I was in my 20’s, one of the biggest causes of my pre-travel anxiety was navigating airports on my own. I mean, they’re huge, they’re crowded, and if I get lost I could potentially miss my flight and my holiday would be ruined. But, funnily enough, I realised that (most) airports are actually pretty darn easy to navigate. Almost like they’re designed that way 😉 Also, if you’re an English speaker, or have a pretty decent grasp on the language, then you’ll be fine, as every sign in (nearly) every airport is written in English as well as the local language, meaning you will have no trouble figuring out where to go. And if you do get lost, airport staff are usually always extremely helpful. (This realisation also applies to train stations!)

5. I’ll (probably) never be happy staying in one place

I’m sure that one day, when I’m old and grey, the thought of packing up all my things and putting them in storage so I can gallivant around the world, will be less appealing than it is right now. But, that’s something future me can deal with. Right now, the thought of

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Look at that happy face!

being in the one place for any longer than two years gets me down; it makes me yearn for faraway places that I’m yet to experience and for adventures I’m yet to have. Travelling solo has given me an insight into the person I am when I’m free and happy and curious about the world, and this is in stark contrast to the person I am when I’m at home and at work, where I feel tired and restless and trapped. Travelling gives me new life, new energy and new outlooks on the world, things that I can’t achieve if I stay in one place and continue to live the day-to-day monotony. If you feel the same, if travelling is your passion, your dream, your purpose in life, don’t let anything hold you back – you can do it: solo travel is for everyone!

Got a question about travelling solo or about travel in general? Pop it in the comments section or catch me on social media!

https://www.facebook.com/loveshetravels/
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Cheers,

Bec @ loveshetravels

74 thoughts on “Five things solo travel has taught me”

    1. Hey Sam! Thanks for reading, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. If traveling is something you want to do more of, I really hope you can find a way to do it. It’s so important to do the things that make you happy in life. Thailand is a great place for budget travel – both food and accommodation are so cheap. Also look into Airbnb, house sitting, and hostels for affordable accommodation options anywhere in the world. I hope 2019 is full of happiness, fun and adventure for you! Cheers, Bec xx

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, this is so great! I was able to travel a few times by myself and I completely agree. You never really know how capable you are until you give yourself the chance! I’m also an introvert, so I know I enjoy time alone, but I also feared the organization/navigational side of things. When you’re relying on yourself, it’s much easier than you think! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. What a great post. I would love to travel the world on my own. I am going to look into taking a solo trip to Europe some day in the next couple of years. I wish I would have done this when I was young and single.

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    1. I freak out over stuff like that too! I get social anxiety if I have to go alone to meet up with someone at a bar or cafe, etc but for some reason traveling alone doesn’t affect me in the same way. It just takes a little preparation beforehand to feel comfortable once I’m in a new city/country. And it’s worth it! 💕

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  3. I always think people who solo travel to be so brave! I would love to do it but it fills me with anxiety going it alone. One day I will brave it! Sounds like you have had some great trips too!

    Thanks for sharing an inspiring post!

    Aimsy xoxo
    https://www.aimsysantics.co.uk

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    1. Thanks for reading! I’m currently planning a trip with a friend, and I actually feel more anxious than when I plan solo trips. Negotiating and coordinating with her, plus the feeling of needing to be ‘on’ while we’re away is much more stressful than traveling alone, doing what I want, when I want, if I want. Both types of travel have their pros and cons though 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The one thing holding me back from solo traveling (even if it’s somewhere a few hours away) are my parents. I know I’m an adult and can literally go whenever but in the back of my mind I know they’ll worry. I guess the anxiety has a bit of a part of that too but I feel like once I do it the first time, I’ll love it. I love all your examples, it’s pretty motivational 🙂

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    1. I get that. I’m an only child of a single mum and I know she worries when I’m away. I also worry that if something happens to her and I’m on the other side of the world then there’s nothing I can do. But, we can’t live our lives being held back by others, even our parents. One day we’ll regret not getting out there and experiencing the world. And as much as they worry, our parents want us to be happy, and would hate to be the reason that we didn’t live our lives to the fullest xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahh, I wish I was as confident as you to travel alone! I feel like sometimes that’s the only way you’ll be able to travel everywhere you want to go. I might have to just suck it up and try it – I’m sure I’ll end up enjoying it just like you!

    Sarah | getupgetaway.com

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    1. Thanks lovely! I wouldn’t have been to the majority of places I’ve travelled to if I didn’t do it alone. Maybe start off with a short solo domestic trip so you’re not far from home if you don’t enjoy it (but I’m sure you will!).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The thought of travelling by myself scares the shit out of me. I actually am fine being by myself and love self-care and taking time for me, but going to a different country by yourself is a different ball game. You’re a really confident person for managing to do this and embracing the world by yourself. I’m sure this has made you realise you can tackle anything! One day, I’d love to try it and become just as confident as you!

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    1. Aww thanks lovely! I think baby steps are the key to feeling confident enough to travel alone. My first two trips were with a friend, then my first solo trip was with a Contiki tour, so although I was by myself, I was always with people and made some great friends I still have today. Maybe joining a tour is a good way for you to ease into solo travel without feeling completely alone and terrified! Or start off with domestic trips where you’re not far from home to give you a sense of home comfort. I hope you get to experience it one day, there’s a whole world out there waiting for you! Xx

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  7. I’ve always looked up to people who travel solo or even invest their time and money travelling for the points you mentioned in your post. I’m thinking of doing it too, just gotta save up for it and when I do, I can’t wait to share it on my blog too! This is a great read, thank you!

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    1. Thanks so much! I think it’s one of the best investments you can make. And there are plenty of ways to travel cheaply, such as Workaway, house sitting and Airbnb (which I mention in my blog post ‘My Best Year Yet’) to save on accommodation. All the best! Xx

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  8. My son started traveling solo when he turned 18, always a saver he decided he couldn’t sit around and wait on anyone else. I’m so happy he took those opportunities and fell in love with travel! Great post, thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for reading! That’s the same reason I started traveling solo, if I’d waited for someone to come with me I’d never have been anywhere! I’m happy your son has had those experiences he’ll treasure forever 😊

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  9. I love how traveling alone made you like yourself even more as you recognized your strengths, but I’m glad you’re using that experience to help others. Great post.

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  10. I’m terrified to travel alone! Airports freak me out I don’t think they’re easy to navigate at all, but I am highly introverted as well and would love to give this a try. Maybe this will help give me some courage 😊

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    1. They can be scary because they’re so busy, but getting to the airport early and having time to get through security and reading the departure boards carefully and calmly gives me the confidence that I know what I’m doing and where I’m supposed to go. I thought they were scary and confusing when I travelled with others, but found I was able to figure it out easily enough on my own, and now they don’t bother me at all. Domestic travel might be a good starting point for your solo adventures, as the airports are usually smaller?? And remember, you’re probably a whole lot braver than you think you are! ❤️

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  11. I love going places by myself – but most of the time when I plan a trip there is always someone who comes with me – but even then I don’t like travelling with more than one person! Airport navigation can be a fun one – in the small airports in really remote locations! x

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  12. Love this! I only went on one solo trip in college before I got married (a summer semester in Hawaii) but it was one of the best experiences of my life. You learn so much about yourself when you travel solo!

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    1. Thanks so much! I still often feel anxious and intimidated when I’m traveling, that’s just the person I am, but there’s something about anonymously exploring new cities on my own that makes me feel at ease – it doesn’t sound like it’s possible but it is!

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  13. Love this! I’ve always wanted to travel, I just wish we had the money. I feel like I’d be the same way. I want to leave our state so bad and go somewhere new. Your life sounds so exciting and I hope to get to live that adventurously one day!

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    1. Hey, thanks for reading! Finances can definitely put a dampener on travel dreams, I guess I’m lucky to not have any major expenses holding me back. You can of course travel cheaply, housesitting and volunteering (which I mention in my latest post) are good ways to cut back on accommodation expenses. Good luck on achieving your dream of living adventurously!

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  14. Solo travel is something I’ve been getting more into over the last few years! It’s very scary! Takes a lot especially as a woman to go out there on your own because it meant needing to trust our own intuition. #2 on your list was a hard one for me to grasp at first when I travelled the first time, but you’re right! We learn to like spending time with ourselves.

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    1. It definitely takes time to feel completely comfortable traveling on your own, especially as a female. But for me, it’s so much easier and simpler than traveling with someone else, even though I do enjoy traveling with friends as well. Let’s face it, all forms of travel is good!

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  15. I totally agree with every single point of yours as a regular solo traveller myself. You never have to worry about planning and accommodating for the other significant too Your itinerary is yours alone and you know what – that’s an amazing thing.

    Where’s your favourite place you’ve travelled solo to?

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

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    1. Absolutely! It’s the freedom that comes with traveling alone that I love the most. My favourite place to travel, solo or otherwise, is Italy. I’ve been to quite a few places across Italy and just adore it. Japan is also a favourite for solo travel – it’s so easy to get around and the people are so friendly and helpful.

      What about yourself?

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  16. Love this! I can relate to being an introvert for sure. Also, I can handle it when I need to, but I do prefer that someone else does the hard work of navigating. Haha

    Love how this actually reflects how traveling (solo) can help your self awareness.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Judy @sensibledove

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  17. I love these and solo travel has taught me a few of them and more! Sometimes it’s hard for me to want to travel with others because I love traveling solo so much, haha.

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    1. Thank you! It’s definitely worth trying if it’s something that interests you, even if you travel to a nearby city or something on your own to dip your toe in first. I’m sure you’re much braver than you give yourself credit for 😊

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  18. People generally don’t like the idea of traveling alone. I guess it’s just the fear of having to rely only on yourself, but that’s actually what makes you stronger. It also makes you more open to people, I think, cause every time I go somewhere on my own, I meet lots of new friends. I travel a lot on my own (usually on business), and I’ve got so used to it that now it’s difficult to go somewhere with someone else 🙂

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    1. Lots of people don’t like doing many things on their own, like going to the movies or to a restaurant – anything that’s seen as a social thing I guess. But doing these things builds your confidence and allows you to enjoy the experience for what it is. My first overseas trip with another person in many many years is coming up soon, hopefully it goes well!

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  19. Love this post! I’m not in the position to travel much at the moment but when I am I can’t wait for it. This is so positive and inspiring, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Coralle x

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  20. This is such an insightful post! I’ve traveled solo for work but haven’t for pleasure yet. I enjoy traveling solo for work but typically my schedule is filled with meetings and projects. You have inspired me to make plans for a solo travel trip for exploring!

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  21. You’re so lucky! I’ve only ever travelled for short stints on my own but I wish I could spend more time doing it. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences x

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    1. Thanks! I try to make travel a priority as it’s something that makes me happy, but I understand not everyone’s life situations allow it. I hope you get to do a longer solo stint one day!

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  22. Hey, your post gives me the courage to start travelling solo. I always find it difficult cause sometimes when I’m in front of something beautiful i feel like oh my friends have to see that/Or i need to share it with someone. Definitely gonna go solo this summer.

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  23. I always want to travel but the idea of being in a country where I don’t speak the language is too overwhelming for me,
    I struggle with going out at home and find it frightening trying to order a coffee (for example) and I’m terrified of trying that and being misunderstood in a different language.

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    1. That’s totally understandable! Although I’ve found that if you at least know pleasantries in the language of the country you’re visiting, then most people are happy for you to speak English. Knowledge of English is becoming so widespread that you can travel to many places without having to worry about being understood. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I love traveling SOLO. But after traveling for 10 years by yourself it can be so boring. Now I have a partner to travel around the world.

    The privacy and the things that enable you to do your way is the most Pros I can think of when traveling solo.

    A really great and very insightful post you have.

    From DinoDidWhat.com

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    1. Thanks Dino. I’m yet to find it boring but I do sometimes wish I had someone to travel with. This year I will be traveling a lot with a friend, for the first time ever! I hope I love it as much as going solo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Via! Like anything, navigation skills and confidence come with practice. And solo travel is no way better than any other type of travel – as long as we’re experiencing the world and learning about its people, who cares how we get there! Xx

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  25. I love this post! Although my sense of direction is still shocking! Solo travelling is the best 🙂 I also find it makes me more sociable. I’m currently saving up to hit the road full time – at the moment I’m just trying to fit solo trips in when I can around work. I’m always looking forward to the next adventure 🙂

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  26. I love this post! Although my sense of direction is still shocking haha. I also find solo travel makes me more sociable (unlike when I travel with a pal and you tend to stick in your own bubble). I’m currently saving up to hit the road full-time – but right now I’m just trying to fit in as much solo travel as I can around work. Always looking forward to the next adventure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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