Do you know that traveling alone for citizens of some countries like the United States is possible from the age of 16? It is not by chance that 66% of Americans have traveled or consider traveling alone: the freedom to choose the itinerary and tours and the privacy to relax and rest are really good reasons for that. Aren’t they?
Even with common motivations, each tourist has his style of travel. Some prioritize long walks through forests, others prefer to climb mountains and make snowmen. But everyone who has traveled alone at least once takes apprenticeships with them for the rest of their lives. Check out some lessons that you only learn when you decide to do this!
1. You are responsible for your own actions
Everyone who has read the classic book The Little Prince already knows that “You become forever responsible for what you captivate.” Still, that phrase is just good advice close to the real experience of having to take on responsibilities like paying your bills, organizing your time, and dealing with bureaucracies. The truth is that traveling by yourself is a perfect aperitif to start taking control of your life.
This is one of the lessons that you learn in the first days when you have to organize the necessary documents, such as your passport, authorizations, letter of motivation, and curriculum, when you travel for work or study. When you forget one of them or your passport expires, and you didn’t know, for example, you have to deal with the frustration of having your trip delayed. It’s quite a lesson!
2. How to create a financial plan
Even if part of your trip is being funded by a university, as in the case of an exchange scholarship, you will inevitably have many bills to pay. In general, they come down to four types: tickets, accommodation, food, and transport. The cost varies depending on the place you are going to visit. But the most significant is the transformation in the way you relate to money. The few resources you have are worth much more and are no longer used with anything.
With that, you end up having to plan financially or organize yourself minimally so that things don’t get off track. Spending less than you receive, avoiding superfluous expenses, paying bills within the validity period, and never losing a discount are small lessons that you acquire in this matter. If you have traveled alone more than five times, you probably have already adopted a financial spreadsheet to do your calculations in an automated way.
3. The importance of monthly recurring revenue
Still on the subject of money – not least because it is considerably important – there is a lesson that you learn as soon as you are unable to pay a bill for the first time: you must receive some amount every month. Or at least on a regular basis. It can be an allowance you receive from your grandparents, your savings, or the income from your livelihood.
This lesson is almost a consequence of the previous one because you start to worry about having enough money to handle all your expenses from the moment you look at what comes in and what comes out of your account. In other words, everything is about balancing and adopting a proportional consumption pattern. Nobody said traveling alone would be a piece of cake.
4. Really understand a different culture
Have you ever visited a place that enchanted you as a tourist, to the point of wanting to live in it, and then, when you finally decide to move, were you frustrated? So you probably understand what it’s like to be in that situation. In fact, there is a difference between visiting and living. And it lies mainly in the challenges of living a routine and making long-term commitments.
In addition, the novelty factor in the case of a second trip no longer exists. Therefore, everything that dazzled you in this place may no longer have the same effect. This is normal and has neuroscientific explanations. In fact, neuroscientists mention contact with news as one of the factors that contribute to a healthy brain.
But even though you know the place a little, you probably never immersed yourself in it, in its socio-cultural dynamics, nor did you make real friends yet. Living in different cultures can be an excellent opportunity to go a little further and discover other news.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
When traveling solo for the very first time, you will not have your closest buddies by your side. Therefore, in case of discomfort or discomfort, you’re going to have to fend for yourself. This may cause a bad feeling initially, but it has important effects on your maturation in the long run. These are some of the pains and delights of traveling by yourself.
Instinctively and with the strength of the teachings that you have learned and observed so far from your parents and friends, you will find yourself looking for solutions to resolve the setbacks that will arise alone. As you manage to deal with them, you will gain self-confidence and experience for others. And if you like to feel challenged, you may even be proactively looking for new challenges soon.
6. You embrace solitude
Loneliness or solitude? This will depend in part on how you will deal with yourself. Loneliness is a feeling common to human beings, usually associated with suffering and pain. It has already inspired several poets in its verses and has been a central theme of songs, and has its own history. Already feeling the loneliness is spending a few moments alone and not suffering from it, but above all enjoying the company itself.
The traveling alone experience can generate either or even both. This will depend on how your relationship with yourself is. If you like to be alone, feel good in introspection, it will be like one of those moments. But if you feel very bad, it may be interesting to adopt introversion practices such as meditation or the arts (painting, drawing, music, among others).
7. Live more with less
Unless you are rich, you had to dispose of or abandon various belongings, such as clothes and less important personal items, for a time when you decided to travel. But what that experience taught you was precisely to appreciate the simplicity of life. And it can have such an influence on you that you develop the habit of going to the essentials and being content with just what is necessary.
The benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle are many, and many of them have everything to do with travel. One is greater freedom. With less stuff accumulated around you, you gain mobility, power, and more space. Another is greater empathy. After all, minimalism is a behavior that makes people more important than the things they have.
8. Be more patient and respect timing
Some say that the Internet Age, the real-time phenomenon, and the expansion of live streams, through the new technologies of communication and information, has generated impatience in the new generations. Appreciating a beautiful landscape without taking a photo and posting it on social media already seems like your uncle or grandfather’s behavior.
Traveling alone for the first time involves waiting and waiting. From the issuance of your documents up to that stopover, you had at the airport. But it also involves relating in a different way to time, respecting the rhythms of nature, places, and people. Are you willing?
9. Overcome your own fears
How to overcome fear? For many people traveling by plane is despair. For others, having to speak a new language, or separating from their family members, is the main difficulty. The fact is that traveling alone experience makes you have to overcome your own fears. This involves everything from the most every day to the deepest fears.
For example, many times on a trip, you are forced to make decisions you don’t like. But little do you know that this is just an aperitif close to what life demands. A trip can concentrate on more important decisions in a short period of time, but you will certainly find yourself faced with deadlocks in other opportunities.
10. Running after a dream
Of course, you wouldn’t learn any of the previous lessons if this trip didn’t make sense to you. The deeper this sense is, the greater your motivation to pursue it. It is this determination that motivates you and makes you face challenges, those in your inner world and those in the outer world.
Far beyond a beautiful speech or a motivational phrase, chasing your dreams is a learning experience that few incorporate into their lives. Not always due to lack of energy, sometimes due to a lack of self-knowledge, or even the tools to carry them out.
Traveling alone for the first time is not easy, but it also has its pros. The most important thing is to travel with the openness to learn about cultures and people and yourself. After all, an outward journey is also an inward journey!