One of the most underrated (yet amazing) things in life one can experience is solo travel. Those who haven't been beyond their comfort zones will never understand this pleasure. But those who have will be able to relate to this article.
There is no doubt solo travel helps us become better people. We learn to become confident in our abilities. We mature and quench the thirst we have for exploring the unknown.
Although solo travel has now begun to get respect in mainstream society, people still tend to pity us sometimes. (Whatever.)
I'm not trying to bolster my arguments for solo travel: They've already been discussed before.
Solo travel starts with baby steps. When one first starts to travel alone, the trips are never great. Your insecurities, fears and troubles will nurture you, and you'll become more experienced and wise. It really takes a substantial amount of time and a lot of experience to get there.
But once you're there, you'll enjoy it so much more. Here are some positive signs that suggest you've become a mature solo traveler:
1. You gain confidence.
Confidence is essential if you want to travel solo. When you first start, you might be tensed, perplexed and a bit scared about the unknown. However, at some point, your confidence boosts exponentially.
You soon find it very easy to make travel plans and execute them by yourself without any hesitation. You no longer dwindle on the what ifs.
2. You become a minimalist.
You get a small backpack, and you pack all your necessary items. Your all-in-one backpack is your best buddy for travel. It can fit everything you need.
3. You get accustomed to hostel culture.
Hostels are the perfect homes for solo travelers. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars at a luxury hotel, you find the shared hostel dorms to be more comfortable.
Having breakfast with unknown people, cooking a quick meal in the crowded hostel kitchen or simply chilling out in the common room – sharing experiences with other travelers –have become habits for you.
4. You learn to manage unfavorable situations.
Solo travel always involves unknown risks, no matter how careful you are. You might get sick, run out of money, miss a connecting vehicle or lose your passport. When you are immature, you probably burst into tears, with no clue how to handle the situation.
However, as a mature solo traveler, you play it cool. You think about the situation, and you finally think of a plan. You've become aware of the fact that worrying doesn't help solve the problem. Rather, it aggravates the situation, especially in a foreign country.
5. You learn to travel on a budget.
You believe traveling is not about spending money on luxury hotels, expensive exotic destinations and fancy dinners. It's all about getting a feel of the place. Instead of seeing an unknown city in an air-conditioned car, you explore it by walking through it and getting lost.
Instead of going to a restaurant for a fancy dinner, you prefer local, cheap street foods. You shop from local grocery stores and cook in hostel kitchens. The fact that you have optimized your budget definitely suggests that you're a local traveler.
6. You learn to be flexible.
There is a difference between being a tourist and a traveler: "A traveler sees what he sees, and a tourist sees what he has come to see."
Maybe you had a travel plan. Then, you met some other travelers. So, you decided to skip your plan and go somewhere else with your new friends. You believe "the journey is more important than the destination."
You don't mind if you miss some hot tourist spots. You would rather enjoy exploring offbeat destinations or spending the day beside a river.
7. You meet new people.
As solo travelers, we're bound to meet many people. When we travel in groups, we usually stay confined within those groups. We hardly strike conversations with strangers because "we don't need to."
When you get accustomed to solo travel, you find it easy to mingle with other travelers, no matter whether you happen to do so in a hostel dorm, during a guided tour or simply at the local market.
8. You get to hitchhike.
This can be an awesome experience for a solo traveller. Although you may have done it unintentionally, either by getting lost, running out of money or simply trying to save money.
9. You enjoy your own company.
There is a difference between being a loner and being lonely. As a mature solo traveler, you like your own company.
You don't get bored with yourself. It's the best way to enjoy the solitude, stimulate your thought process and just relax.
10. You learn to feel at home in unknown situations.
We love to live in our comfort zones. Getting out of your comfortable daily life and still feeling at home really depends on whether or not you're OK with thinking out of the box. When you feel like a local in an unknown city, you've definitely become a mature solo traveler.
You don't find the crowded city transit or local food annoying. Rather, you find it interesting to try something new. You really enjoy it.