Solo traveling means spending a lot of time with yourself. For some, that sort of thing sounds great. I mean, you are by far the coolest person you know. But for others, the concept of spending more than a few hours alone leads to existential dread over how many incredible jokes you’re thinking up that sadly go unheard. Whether you’re the former or the latter, solo traveling forces you bulldoze through these self-discoveries:
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. With no one controlling your schedule, and you setting your own pace, solo-traveling gives you a chance to really decide when you want to be awake. Be prepared to see a drastic change in your sleep schedule as you set into an odd routine that exists outside of societal sleep-time norms.
1. When and What You Really Like to Eat
Do you believe that breakfast should be served at all times of day? Does the concept of brunch really get you riled? Without anyone else’s opinions or bellies to determine when, where, and maybe even what you eat, you’re sure to go on a gastronomic journey of discovery.
2. Whether You’re a People Person or Not
Say it with me: just because I’m solo-traveling does not mean I have to stay in hostels all the time. You may find out you just really don’t care for quick friendships and spending time with others during your travels. Or, you could find that you really crave the interactions and love hostel living and making friends from around the globe. Either way, listen to your gut, and make sure your living arrangements are made in a way that makes you happiest in the end!
3. How Many Items of Clothing You Really Need in Your Wardrobe
When you first started your trip, you were terrified at how little clothing fit into your Osprey pack. You may have even wondered if you should increase its size. But now, three weeks into your trip, you find yourself wearing that same red t-shirt you love over and over again, and suddenly find yourself really only needing the same pair of shoes. Without anyone paying attention to you, you start to get ready and dress solely for yourself and that is a beautiful thing.
4. Buses, Trains, or Planes
Buses, trains, or planes. Your hostel bunkmate took a 7 hour, sweaty bus ride to get to this city. You sat in first class on a high-speed rail train for an hour and a half. She spent a third of what you did to get there, but damn, you’re not sure you would have survived a bus ride like that. Solo-traveling gives you the chance to figure out what option of travel you can stand, and how far you’re willing to go (and how much you’re willing to sweat) to save a few bucks.
5. Just How Much Travel You Can Stand
Sure, when you were planning this trip from your air conditioned apartment in a very convenient city last year, the idea of spending 8 weeks backpacking through Europe alone sounded great, but now you’re 4 weeks in and you could already kill someone for some AC and a breakfast that includes eggs. Or, it could be you’re at your very last day of the trip and hastily calling airlines to see if you can get a refund on your flight tickets, or at the very least, delay your journey back home a little longer. Either way, you’re going to find out just how much travel you can take.
Of course, this list isn’t an exhaustive one of all the little ways in which we grow from traveling alone, but, hopefully it helps you sit back and reflect on your trip, and think of all the little things you’ve learned about yourself in the world. Free from others opinions, wants, and needs, you’re in the best position to figure out what your own thoughts and desires are while solo-traveling.
This summer, Jessica roamed through many winding French streets in search of three things: white wine, red wine, and rose. With just a single phone power bank and absolutely no understanding of the French language, she found just what she was looking for along with many, many croissants. Her adventures ranged from trying to get a French SIM card from a man who spoke no English, to air drying in a towel-less hostel, to even lugging her 40L Osprey pack up a 3 mile mountain hike to get to her AirBnB in a French vineyard. After her trip, she’s found a profound new love of lavender, macaroons, and waking up before noon. The only thing France was truly missing this summer was Jessica’s cat, Gerty, who she missed very dearly throughout her journeys. She saw The Great Sphinx of Tanis at the Louvre, but it just wasn’t the same. Jessica is currently planning her next backpacking adventure to Greenland and Ireland, where she hopes to find out just how many ways you can cook a potato.