I have always encouraged solo travel as a way to explore the world, but I also acknowledge that it has some negative aspects, especially if you do it for a long time. Traveling has been an amazing learning experience for me, as I have gained a lot of insight into different cultures and perspectives. But it has also affected me on a personal level. Here are 10 ways travel has shaped me, and how it usually impacts others who do the same:
1. It makes you more self-centered
Solo travel gives you the freedom to make almost every choice based on your own preferences. You can decide what to eat, where to go, and when to move on without consulting anyone else. Unless you have some people you want to stick with for a while, or you face a major decision, like whether to go back home for a special occasion or a life change, most of what you do is only about you and your experience.
This can make it hard to form any kind of relationship because suddenly you have to take into account other people’s wishes and can’t just do what you want.
2. You discover the freedom to pursue your own desires
A lot of people tell me, “I wish I could do what you do” or “You’re so brave”, but they fail to realize that they can do what I do and I’m not that courageous. Anyone who travels solo also agrees with this.
What is clear to me now, but I didn’t emphasize enough before, is the fact that we only have one chance to live and that chasing big dreams is not just important, it’s vital. Yet many people don’t end up doing what they would enjoy most in life for fear of failure. The key is to understand that it is never a failure, but a series of achievements and inevitably some difficulties.
3. It strips away masks and reveals your authentic self
Traveling solo, especially in less developed countries, frees you from most of the external factors that have influenced your choices in your home life: work, relationships, rent, image, ads, TV, etc.
When you’re in places where no one cares about brands, a $3 room is totally fine, and street food is a common and delicious option, even for those who used to work in an office. , the nonsense is gone and people can be whoever they want to be.
People say traveling changes them into a new person, but I think it just lets them be who they always were. Maybe it’s someone who enjoys indulgence without guilt, becomes a Buddhist, and dedicates their life to helping others or any other way of living.
4. Your remarkable achievements will make you seem arrogant
When people compliment you for pursuing your passions, you’ll want to tell them that they can do the same. They can also follow their hearts. They will stare at you skeptically and you will feel like you are preaching. Then you will back off, shyly.
5. You appreciate your loved ones more than ever
My mom says she sees me more often now than when I lived in California, just 45 minutes away. Now I stay with her when I visit and she comes to see me for a week or two every year on my travels. My best friends back home also take time off work and plan group trips when I’m home. Some of them even came to Thailand to see me (during the coup, of all times).
I also met up with friends I made while traveling again and again, in different countries and continents. We make efforts to see each other because we have formed lasting friendships.
You will encounter people from all over the world and, even though you will frequently say goodbye, you will also have the chance to hang out with a friend in almost every city you visit. It’s an amazing gift.
6. You will have fewer obligations to others
By contrast, the fact that you’re always moving, always leaving, and never letting yourself settle in one place for long will make you less of a lasting option in many people’s lives. This is especially true for romantic relationships.
It’s hard to take seriously someone who will always leave, which leads to a lot of sadness and goodbyes.
7. There is no cure-all, no ideal lifestyle, and no solution to all your problems
people believe wealth is the solution until they become rich, believe fame is the solution until they become famous, and believe traveling will be the perfect lifestyle change until they realize that no lifestyle is without drawbacks. It can be a hard pill to swallow.
8. Finding a house will be more difficult
With so many choices constantly appearing and going back to where you grew up with a new perspective, it will be more challenging to feel at home in one place.
This unavoidable consequence of travel is a double-edged sword, as you’ll end up loving many places while simultaneously wondering if you could really settle down in one place.
9. If you can’t adapt, it won’t be easy
Unless you can embrace the differences in each group of friends, your culture, and your general lifestyle where you live, it won’t be a smooth journey. When I travel I realize that things won’t be as neat, schedules probably won’t exist and the people I meet will probably be from different cultures with very little in common with how I grew up..
Back home, I realize that image matters more, and I can’t walk around without makeup or Western-style clothes if I want to be treated with respect.
Successful travel means that to fit in and appreciate each place, you have to change a little each time. Some would say it means not being true to yourself, but really it’s just letting different parts of your personality show.
10. You’ll change forever
You’ll struggle to find a sense of normality. The reverse culture shock will be real. Adapting yourself to the world of non-travelers, if you ever choose to become one again, will be harder than you ever thought.
To sum up, traveling opens many doors, offers the chance of amazing and eye-opening experiences in beautiful places, and introduces you to all kinds of amazing people. It also involves a lot of changes in your lifestyle and self-esteem. Like everything, it has its pros and cons.
But I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
How has traveling transformed you？