What I Learned About Myself When I Started Traveling Solo


By Kelly Smith

They say you can only find yourself once you get lost. I always thought about myself as a genuine traveler, but last summer I realized that I’ve been extremely naive – I’ve never actually traveled anywhere on my own. There was always a group of friends with me. I was probably unconsciously picturing traveling solo like a big no-no.

Last summer, due to a web of complex circumstances involving dramatic breakups and spontaneous trips, I found myself facing my summer holidays utterly alone. Still, I decided to make the best of it and embarked on my journey as planned – and it was easily the best thing I’ve done all year.

Here’s what I learned about myself during my solo travel.

That I know how to be on my own

Every solo traveler will go through a bout of intense loneliness. Seeing breathtaking panoramas or tasting a delicious specialty, I simply longed to look into someone’s eyes and share my happiness. Needless to say, some days of my journey were spent just moping on the beach with nobody to talk to.


At some point, I realized I haven’t even dared to confront my feelings and was using my books and magazines as protection from admitting to myself that I was really, really alone. Desperate, I decided that I’d venture out of my shell and make at least a couple of new friends. My willpower worked wonders!

The feeling of loneliness soon vanished and I was able to enjoy my time learning new things and building genuine relationships with people I met on my way. Most importantly, I learned to like being on my own. And that’s something valuable at every stage of our lives, even when we’re at home.

That kindness is way underrated

Kindness is something we all know about, but it’s not until we’re in trouble that we can really appreciate someone giving us a hand. A helpful advice or a word of encouragement can be life saving.

I suppose you cannot really learn the value of kindness until you find yourself in situations, where you completely depend on the good will of others, as I did. Being kind to strangers is worth it – an act of kindness might turn out to be a beginning of a life-long friendship.

That I’m more open-minded than I thought

The beauty of traveling alone is that I was completely free to explore everything. I didn’t have to answer to any external pressures, expectations, judgments or conflicting preferences. I noticed that being on my own pushed me to try things I’d never do with my friends around.


My solo journey became an unexpected opportunity for transgressing my mental boundaries and jumping out of my comfort zone for a little while.

Perhaps it’s the question of a different cultural context, where there’s no familiar social group to maintain our identity – allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in a different culture and actually hold conversations with the locals that are more than just small talk.

That I’m independent

Returning from my solo travel, I realized that I was able to live with all the responsibility for my happiness resting on my shoulders and I didn’t feel the need to reach out to my comfort zone. That independence gave me the flexibility and freedom I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life.

Even if this freedom seems at times scary, it can give you a sense of peace. If I managed a solo journey, I know I’ll be able to deal with every challenge encountered back at home where I have friends and family to support me.

Last summer, I’ve experienced all there is to traveling – both the good and the bad. I cherish it because it shaped me into the person I am now. Naturally, I’m looking forward to another solo journey this summer!




Kelly Smith is a writer, traveler, chocolate lover and new tech solutions enthusiast. Currently she works at CourseFinder, where she shares her knowledge and experience in her writing.

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