11 Life Lessons I Learnt When I Travelled By Myself!
GopikaSocial Media Manager, POPxo
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I have always loved travelling alone. Unlike a lot of people, the sentence “I’ll come with you!” did the exact opposite of making me happy. Travelling with another person meant a watered down version of an original plan - and don’t get me wrong, but even your best friends can be incompatible as travel partners! My solo trips did more than just make me meet new people. They gave me invaluable life lessons I couldn’t have learnt otherwise…
1. I realized the world isn’t as dangerous as it sounds
Crime is everywhere, but that didn’t stop me from travelling. What I did realize was that the world was kinder than it sounds in the news. People have invited me over to their homes, strangers have offered to pay when I forgot my wallet, a local taxi guy showed me around the city out of sheer generosity… You just don’t experience these things if you don’t travel!
2. I tasted freedom
“Be back home by 9 p.m., don’t talk to strangers, don’t drink…” None of these rules apply when you travel solo. Although it meant an additional responsibility of taking care of myself, I did taste pure freedom by making my own rules.
3. I learnt to trust strangers
Since I had no constant companion by my side, I started to find comfort in other people. It pushed me to look beyond our differences, approach other travellers and open up to locals. I realized that they do have the best-kept secrets of the place…
4. I realized that material things aren’t all that important
Falling asleep by the Singapore river with complete strangers, playing “Never Have I Ever...” with a fun bunch of people at a random rooftop in Mykonos, riding on a boat with locals… These are a few experiences money can’t buy. So now I’d rather spend my salary on a plane ticket that on an expensive handbag.
5. I started to judge less
Too loud, too shy, too colourful, too conservative…. I was guilty of making such judgments earlier. But travelling solo made me look beyond these little quirks and instead appreciate the beauty of these differences. It also made me fall in love with my own imperfections.
I did hate being alone in the beginning, but I realized it was only temporary. Things didn’t get better, I did. I began to enjoy doing things alone. Watching the Phantom Of The Opera, sitting by the river, eating at a class restaurant... I did things that I never imagined doing alone. It made me more confident and self-sufficient.
7. It made me direction-friendly
I couldn’t tell where’s where to save my life. But travelling made me pay more attention to the details, to places, to landmarks. I’m still not a pro, but I’m definitely more comfortable with directions now, and trust me when I say that this is a life skill!
8. It’s all about the money, honey!
I didn’t have a credit card and I did not have my parents to pay for everything. A traveller’s card with a limited budget meant I couldn’t just spend a bomb on a dress I saw in a store window or splurge in a fancy restaurant. I had to keep a check on my daily expenses and restrict my urges. I actually started to understand the value of money. (My parents would be so proud!)
9. It altered my life goals
I had never imagined I’d be willing to move to another country until my very first solo trip. But now, I’m more than open to immersing myself in a completely new world. I have fallen in love with the thrill of new experiences, risks and people. It made me realize that my life plans weren’t set in stone and that goals change all the time.
I remember I was lost at a train station in Milan and asked for help from a lady who spoke nothing but Italian. I had never used as many hand gestures in my life as I did that day, trying to figure out exactly what she was saying. And although I never quite understood, we both had a great laugh in the end and went our separate ways. Moments like these gave me the confidence to overcome the barriers of language and at least try to communicate.
11. I learnt to chill
"Regular" life can be busy and overwhelming. Every single day I had to be somewhere, do something… But as soon as I stepped foot in a new place, I was in no rush. I actually learnt to take a step back and smell the roses!