Traveling alone is not for the faint of heart. It’s an extreme experience that pulls the ‘comfort-zone’ rug right out from under your feet. And that is exactly why it is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself.
Once you find yourself an insanely cheap flight and arrive in a new city its go time! You’re all by yourself and the adrenaline is starting to kick in. You will never forget the first time you travel alone.
Before you get set in your ways with bills to pay, go experience the world. There is so much to see and reading about it on Wikipedia just doesn’t do it justice.
Whether you’re a solo female traveler or solo guy traveler, traveling alone makes complete sense in your twenties. Here’s why:
1. Learn to Make Decisions For Yourself, By Yourself
It seems like so many people are afraid of making a decision based on what they want. Instead, they think about what everyone else wants and then make a decision based off of that.
Considering other people’s opinions isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, if everyone settles for what they think other people want to do, you won’t get to do what you truly want to do.
When you are traveling alone you will learn to make decisions by yourself. The best thing about these decisions is that they are only meant to make one person happy: you.
You stop letting other people make decisions for you.
This gives you a sort of power and confidence to call the shots next time everyone is trying to figure out what to do.
2. Figure Out What YOU Like to Do
One of the benefits of making decisions for yourself is actually figuring out what you like to do.
Throughout your entire life you have been around other people: friends, family, teachers, and mentors. All these people are giving you their opinion and ‘helping’ you make decisions.
When you collaborate with others on what you want to do you’ll find that you never know what you like to do.
When you’re traveling alone you’ll quickly discover the things that you like and dislike.
Maybe you will realize that you were only going to the bars because that’s what your friends were doing.
Or maybe you will rediscover your long lost passion for history that you forgot about after a grueling history class in college.
The point is, you’ll discover things about yourself that define who you are.
3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
There is no better way to get out of your comfort zone than to go travel. You are in a foreign place where you don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language, and don’t have a clue about what you just got yourself into.
As the plane touches down you feel adrenaline pumping through your body as you realize that you are actually doing this. You have no option other than figuring it out and soon you realize that everything is going to be just fine.
There are going to be a lot of experiences in life that make you uncomfortable. Figuring out how to handle the situations and being confident in your ability to do so is a great skillset to have.
4. You’ll Be Okay Sleeping Anywhere
You might think you need a nice comfy bed to fall asleep, but you’ll quickly realize that it’s not necessary.
You will find yourself with the magical ability to sleep on a plane, on a train, on a couch, or even on a bed that’s way too small.
When you’re on a 22-hour train journey you will reach a point of exhaustion that allows you to sleep anywhere. Even if your neck aches when you wake up you’ll be happy that you caught some zzz’s.
You will prove to yourself that you can do without a queen sized extra soft mattress. And you will certainly appreciate it when you sleep on a bed like that again when you get home.
5. Your Body Will Forgive You
If you wait until you’re retired to travel you probably won’t be able to do half the stuff you could if you traveled in your twenties.
Do you want to spontaneously hike up a mountain? By all means, do it!
Do you want to slide down a canyon and jump off waterfalls? Why not?
Dive for the ball playing beach volleyball? Go for it!
Your body might be a little bit sore the next day, but not nearly as much so as it will be when you’re older (or so I’m told).
Being able to go on wild adventures and put your body through tough situations is definitely something to be grateful for when you’re young.
You’re young and limber! Use it to your advantage.
6. You Can Quit Your Job and Be Just Fine
It may not seem like it right now, but even if you quit your job you’ll figure everything out and be just fine in the long run. You have many years ahead of you to earn money, support your family, and reach your financial goals.
This doesn’t mean you should go in debt, rack up a bunch of credit card bills, and blow away all your money. Be smart about it!
If you go on a six-month or even a one-year hiatus to go travel the world, what are you really going to miss out on at work?
40-hour workweeks? Sitting in traffic during your commute? Competing with the other 20-somethings in your office for a management position?
Don’t worry; all that stuff will be there when you come back (if you decide to come back).
You might miss out on extra work experience, working on a cool project, or learning a new skill set. But, what you learn when you are traveling alone is even more powerful.
You learn about independence, decision-making skills, leadership, and creativity. You are now more comfortable handling the unknown and the obstacles that get in your way.
It’s starting to sound like you’ll come back as more of a leader than simply as an employee. Your real-world experience will give you an advantage when vying for a leadership position.
7. It’s Easy to Meet People When Traveling Alone
One of the reasons to travel alone is that it will make you more social than ever before. If you don’t consider yourself to be an extrovert, you will surprise yourself with how social you are.
When you’re with a friend you don’t have to go out of your way to talk to people. You simply talk to your friend, laugh, and have a great time. Your friend is a crutch that doesn’t force you to break out of your shell.
This is especially true when your friends are more outgoing than you. If you want to talk to people you can just hang back and let your friend do the introductions.
Well, when you’re a traveling alone and show up at a hostel, you don’t know anyone. If you want to talk to someone it’s completely up to you to make it happen.
You’ll soon learn to make conversation with people from all over the world. You will communicate with people that barely speak English and make friends with others that cross your path.
You’ll be completely fine meeting a random stranger and then hanging out with them for an entire day. You’ll become great friends with someone that you probably won’t see ever again.
Your ability to spark conversations, share stories, and laugh with people you barely know improves as you travel.
8. You Will Make Memories That Last a Lifetime
What are you more likely to be thinking about 10 years down the road:
A) that one time you graduated college and then got a job, worked full time, met some work friends, and went out for happy hour every once in awhile?
B) that other time you quit your job, bought a ticket to Europe, slept in hostels, laughed hysterically with people you just met, got lost in a foreign city, and discovered places you never knew existed?
Traveling alone in Europe, or anywhere else is the type of thing you’ll be talking about years later.
You’ll have some of the fondest memories and you’ll look back and laugh at all the things that seemed to go wrong.
Take lots of pictures, start writing on your own blog, and do things you’ve never done before.
9. You’re Probably Already Broke
Lets face it: you’re young, maybe you just graduated, and you got bills to pay! That’s not exactly the recipe for having piles of cash in your bank account.
Let’s say you spend $5,000 on a trip of a lifetime. Yes, $5,000 is a lot of money. But, when you’re 70 are you going to be happier that you earned a measly 1% interest on that money, or created memories that you’ve held onto for years?
It’s been said that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. Spending what money you do have on experiences that make you a better person isn’t such a bad idea.
10. You Can Eat Whatever You Want When You Travel Solo
Belgian waffles, Swiss chocolate, Italian gelato… mmmmm. Yum.
If your diet is going to consist of these European delicacies you better hope you have a fast metabolism to handle it.
As you get older your metabolism slows down, which means these foods will affect your body in ways they didn’t use to. According to some experts, your metabolism starts to slow down at age 25 and can continue to decline as much as 2-4% each year.
Take advantage of your young age, eat your heart out, and enjoy every minute of it.
11. You Can Party and Be Just Fine the Next Day
You know why you only see young people at bars and clubs dancing and partying all night long?
My guess is that it’s because their young bodies don’t feel the pain that older peoples’ do when they try to party it up.
Being able to party when you travel, get up the next day, and actually do stuff is definitely an advantage of being young.
With that said, don’t party too hard or you’ll spend more time sleeping than seeing the world. You can do that at home.
12. You Will Learn About the World
As you’re wandering around on your solo travel expedition, you will learn new things about other countries. You will see how other people get things done.
If you go on any tours you will learn about history and the significance of different cities.
You will start to appreciate all the great things other countries have brought to our planet.
You’ll get an understanding of the world from people who didn’t grow up in the same country as you. Sometimes you’ll agree and sometimes you’ll disagree. At least you can comprehend how others see the world.
As the world becomes more globalized, being tolerant of others’ opinions will only make you a better person.
13. You’ll Learn to Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin
Everyone is unique and there is no better way to see this for yourself than to go meet people from other places.
We’ve all had different experiences growing up. We’ve all made our own mistakes and had our own successes. We all have a lens that we see the world through that is unique to ourselves.
You’ll become extremely comfortable with who you are as you meet others. You’ll find that your uniqueness is your strength. You will see that by focusing on being you to the fullest you’ll attract others that appreciate you for that.
14. Your Selfie Game will be Strong Since You’re Traveling Alone
If you haven’t hopped on the selfie bandwagon yet, traveling alone will have you on board in no time.
This will happen naturally as you find yourself alone in awesome places thinking, “I need a picture of this right now.” You have no other option to take out your phone and get a great selfie.
And the best thing about selfies… you don’t have to figure out what to do with your hands!
You don’t want to turn thirty and never have taken a selfie, do you?
15. You Will Fully Experience Freedom When You Travel by Yourself
Have you ever wondered what freedom really is? Go travel solo and you’ll experience it for yourself.
The ability to go anywhere and do anything whenever you want to is a unique feeling. You can wake up in a city one morning and have no idea where you’re going next. You find a cheap bus and off you go!
You don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time. You don’t have to follow a set of rules. You don’t have to abide by a dress code.
You just go live and whatever happens, happens!
Who cares if your bus just broke down? You don’t have to be anywhere anyways!
Take advantage of this opportunity while you’re young.
16. Living With a Bunch of Strangers Isn’t Weird to You
Your first night in the dorms in college is similar to what it’s like staying in a hostel.
You have no idea who these people are, yet you are all becoming friends. The idea of sleeping in a room with random people isn’t weird to you yet as you just recently experienced it in college.
17. You Don’t Have Kids Yet
As soon as you have a kid it makes traveling more expensive and you won’t be able to do all the things you could before.
Your first priority is the tiny human being you are responsible for every day.
Being free to up and leave for a couple of months is not as much of a possibility when you have kids. You have to provide for them, take them to school, provide them with a place to live, etc.
Before you have kids you are free to do whatever you like, whenever you like! You might as well take advantage of that and go travel the world!
18. You Don’t Have a Mortgage Payment
Things get a bit tougher when you have large expenses every month like a house payment. So if you can travel before you invest in a house, it’s probably a good idea.
When you’re renting an apartment you can decide to leave once your lease is up and go travel. You won’t have to pay for rent, which will keep your expenses lower. All you have to do is find a place to store all your stuff… or just sell it all if you want to travel for a long time!
If you have a mortgage payment or your lease isn’t up for a long time and still want to travel in the meantime, you can always rent out your home through AirBnB. This way you can at least be making some type of income while you’re away to help pay for your rent or mortgage payment.
19. You Just Might Fall In Love
Have you always dreamed of finding the love of your life, who just happens to have a sexy accent? Well, this is your chance!
When you’re out exploring the world you will meet tons of people and one of those people might just be your soul mate.
You can go on romantic gondola rides in Venice and everything!
You probably shouldn’t get your hopes up of this happening while you’re traveling, but you never know. It might just happen to you.
20. You Can Work and Solo Travel at the Same Time
If you’re worried about money or feel like you’re going to lose all your work-related skills while you’re away, guess what?!
There’s this thing called the internet that allows you to work from anywhere.
You can also negotiate with your boss to allow you to work while you’re away. Or you can start an online company or blog and make money from that. Or you could do work for other people on sites like Upwork.
The possibilities are endless and there is no reason why you can’t work and travel if that is what you want to do.
21. Your Confidence Will Go Up by Traveling Solo
You know what happens when you show up in a city, get completely lost, manage to figure it all out, and everything works out just fine?
Or when you learn to talk to anyone, anywhere?
You’ll come back with a new level of confidence that you didn’t have when you left.
You’ll be thinking to yourself, “if I can backpack across Europe by myself and make it back safely, I sure as heck can do ____________.”
You will have this new feeling that no matter what is thrown in your way, you’ll be able to figure out a solution.
22. You Will Learn to Be Patient
You’ll be the foreigner, which means you won’t always be right, you won’t always be understood, and things won’t always go your way.
Getting mad won’t work. It will only make the situation worse. In fact, the only way to get through situations is to be patient and not get too heated.
Sometimes when you’re traveling there will be certain instances that really test your patience. Like when flights are delayed for hours on end.
Or when you’re on a train for an hour and they tell everyone that they can’t go this way because another train is blocking their path and you find yourself going backward to where you started.
You get the point. These things happen. The world isn’t perfect.
The great part is you choose how to react to these situations. You can whine about it like most people or learn to patient and realize that everything will work out.
23. You’ll See Things You Never Knew Existed
When you travel you realize that things aren’t always done the way that you’ve seen them done where you live.
You understand that there are different solutions and various ways of making things happen.
By seeing things for the first time you’ll also evoke a sense of curiosity that you haven’t had since you were a child.
You get a sense of joy when you discover something that you never knew about before.
If you always looked around in the world, through the lens of a traveler’s eyes you would start to notice things you never noticed before.
24. You Will Come Back More Motivated Than Ever
You just spent a couple of months gallivanting around some foreign country. Everyone at home was putting in time at their job, starting a company, or somehow moving their career forward.
You’ll come back feeling like you have a little bit of catching up to do, which is definitely not a bad thing. You’ll be more focused than ever before on making it happen.
Joining in on happy hour won’t be as big of a deal anymore because you just enjoyed beer from Belgium’s beer brewing monks.
You’ll catch up to your friends and coworkers in almost no time and use your experiences abroad to push you even further ahead.
If you decide not to work while you’re abroad, at first it feels like a constant vacation.
Yet, if you travel for long enough and have a sense of drive to accomplish something in your life you’ll have a burning desire to work on something. This fire to create and build when you get back is like rocket fuel for your career.
25. You’ll See How Nice People Are
If you think the world is full of mean people trying to take your money, scam you, or just make your life miserable, you’re in for an eye-opening experience.
Sure, there are pickpockets, thief’s, and scammers that make their living through not-so-honest tactics. But, most people are nice, friendly, smiling folks that are more than willing to give you a helping hand.
If you have a question, almost anyone you ask is more than happy to help. As long as you’re smiling, friendly, and not being a bad tourist, you’ll have a pleasant experience abroad.
26. You Will Stop Listening to the News
War, murder, rape, kidnapping, theft. Don’t go here. Don’t go there. The world is a dangerous place. People are out to get you.
This is all a load of crap.
Yes, once again, bad things happen in the world, but way more good things are happening each day.
Do you think news companies would survive if they focused on the majority of the good things that happen in the world? Here are the headlines:
“Young Restaurant Employee Assists Two Lost Travelers and Helps Them Have the Best Trip Ever”
“5 Hikers Stay On the Trail and Make it Safely to the Top… And Back Down!”
“Local Train Leaves Station and Safely Makes it To Its Destination”
Instead, the news focuses on all the bad things. Why? Because it captures our attention. It makes us a bit scared inside.
Here’s a better idea: live your life and if something bad happens, handle the situation the best way you can.
Paying attention to the news will make you want to crawl up into a little bubble and never leave your house again. You’ll be too scared of all these bad things that can happen to you.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Understanding that the world, on a whole, is a good place filled with nice people is a great perspective to have.
27. You Are More Willing to Try New Things
For some reason as people get older, they tend to get set in their ways. They drive the same way to work. They take the same vacation every year. They eat the same food every week.
Is it because they have tried everything in the world and determined that what they do is what they love best?
Or is it because they are set in their ways and a too scared to try anything new?
For most people, I have a feeling it’s the latter.
Well, when you are traveling alone you have no option but to see things in a different light.
Your mind will be open to new experiences and you’ll find some of your perspectives changing.
When we are growing up, everything is new to us so we aren’t afraid of trying it. The same thing can happen when you travel. Don’t say no to experiences just because they are different.
This is your opportunity to try new food, experience new cultures, and see incredible places for the first time!
28. It Will Make You Appreciate Things Back Home
Traveling is a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone and see the world. But, when you finally come back home you realize the saying is true: there is no place like home.
There will always be a soft spot in your heart for home-cooked meals, your family, and everything that home means to you.
By going away for a while you will regain this appreciation for all the things you started to take for granted.
29. You Might Regret it if You Don’t
If you caught the ‘travel bug,’ there really is only one cure: travel.
If you make the decision not to go, for whatever reason, you will regret it later on in life.
Go out and experiencing everything for yourself. Even if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you’ll at least be happy that you did it and gave it a try.
Many people that are now settled down and working full-time say one of two things:
1) Traveling is the best thing I ever did
2) I wish I went traveling when I had the chance
Don’t be the person in the second group. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely take advantage of it. Go buy your ticket and make it happen!
I just outlined 29 reasons to travel alone before you’re thirty. Some of these definitely apply later on in life as well. But, for most people the older they get the less likely they are to do something alone.
Take advantage of the opportunity you have when you’re younger and go experience all the things you want to experience. And if you ever want to go back to ‘normal’ life, it will be there waiting for you whenever you want it.
Are you going to be traveling alone soon? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.