Personal growth is possibly one of the most rewarding, and difficult experiences we all consistently face.
Whether we strive to be less anxious, have more confidence in our decision making or have the ability to set and reach our goals, personal development always comes with a measure of discomfort.
During my late teens early 20’s I was riddled with anxiety, depression and loneliness, finding it very difficult to embrace my days and therefore my life, it was as if I was on autopilot.
I always felt like I wasn’t good enough – whether that was for another job, for a partner, for my parents or most importantly for myself.
In this post I’m going to share with you 7 amazing impacts solo travel can have on your personal development.
What is Personal Development?
Personal development can be somewhat of an ambiguous term, even though you have probably heard it regularly during school, university or work.
You have quite likely been on some sort of personal development course or training session, designed to help you have more confident body language, articulate your ideas better or have stronger personal relationships.
These are important lessons which greatly increase your self-worth and understanding, allowing you to feel much happier in your own skin.
Solo travel puts you in situations where you always have to get out of your comfort zone and work on your fears to embrace the ever-changing world around you.
From people to places your environment is constantly shifting, the only way to navigate this discomfort successfully is to put yourself out there. You will find yourself moving beyond the fears we all too easily carry with us.
Personal development is never ending, and needs to be practiced just like any other skill. Traveling solo doesn’t give you a choice, it will force you to move beyond your fears… That is the beauty of personal growth.
Importance of Personal Development
Personal development is crucial if we are to live the life we desire, reach our goals and overcome whatever is holding us back.
The fear of not being good enough would stop me from setting goals, having dreams and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I was afraid of what others thought of me, and most consequently I was afraid of failure.
Eventually there came a moment when I cracked and felt as though I had reached my own personal rock bottom.
I decided enough was enough, and there was much more to life, and it was up to only myself whether I was going to live or continue to exist and let time fly by.
I picked up my first book for over a decade, ‘The Chimp Paradox’ and this became a complete game changer for my thinking.
I would go on to read a host of books from ‘The Power of Now’ through to ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’. This started to bring me in balance and would change the course of my thinking and life forever.
Traveling opens you up to a world of adventure, difficulties and discomfort, the only option is to embrace it, learn from it and try to understand it.
How Does Travel Help Personal Development Goals?
Whether you plan on traveling for 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years, you will face some struggle or discomfort at some point.
You will have to reach out and speak to strangers if you are to make friends and have an active social experience, dating can be even more awkward. You may just find yourself being able to speak to anybody in any situation, without the fear of rejection.
You will need to ask for help from people, whether for directions, advice or support, something we can all struggle with. You may be asking people who don’t speak your language, in places completely alien to you, but you will find a way of making it work.
Asking for help from locals in foreign countries can be a lot of fun, and lead to some incredible adventures and friendships which were not expected.
If you want to sustain long-term travel, setting and achieving goals may be the only way to make it work. The fears and worries that were stopping you before no longer apply as you leave the comfortable surroundings you were once familiar with.
There have been some real rocky situations during my time in Asia, I have had my foot run over by a truck, been chased by a crocodile, found myself in prison for 3 weeks and ran out of money due to difficult clients.
It is during these moments I have to remember the lessons, keep mindful and let go of the immense amount of fear that my mind screams out at me.
7 Amazing Impacts Solo Travel can Have on Your Personal Growth
Traveling the world alone can push your personal development rapidly, and bring changes which could positively impact many areas of your life.
1. Increase Your Confidence
When you set out to travel alone, especially for the first time, it can make you feel very nervous.
You hear stories of the scary world out there, you can feel worried about meeting new people and you are entering unknown surroundings.
By getting on that plane and heading out, your nerves usually turn to excitement at the possibilities coming your way, and rightly so.
Arriving in an unfamiliar environment, it is down to you to make your way to your accommodation through the new streets. Once there you now have to introduce yourself to new people, something which we seem to have been better at as children.
You can feel a real sense of confidence in yourself as you meet new people, make some great friends and navigate your way round new countries using their public transport system.
Learning little phrases in the local language can really connect you with the local people, and make you feel confident in your own abilities and your new surroundings.
This confidence can remain when you return home and little things your were once nervous about seem insignificant and easy to overcome.
2. Being Comfortable Alone
The idea of going out for a meal or to the cinemas alone can seem daunting, I used to be terrified of the idea.
When you are out on the road alone, eating alone will become as normal brushing your teeth in the morning.
Going to a bar alone can change from be daunting to being an exciting opportunity to meet new people or a great night in your own company.
I have found that it is sometimes hard to find the time to be alone as you meet fellow travelers in hostels constantly, the time to yourself can often be a blessing.
You may just get to know yourself better than you thought, and really enjoy your own company.
3. Expand Your Comfort Zone
When you are constantly moving into new environments, new adventures and new situations, your comfort zone expands.
Things you may once have avoided can now be embraced and you may find yourself trying new things as you discover new limits.
Traveling forces us to expand our comfort zone, as everything is always new and we are always stepping outside of what is comfortable to embrace the experiences ahead of us.
Traveling is not an escape from life, it throws you into life as there is nowhere to hide, none of the normal comforts to retreat into and only yourself to face.
The ability to step out of your comfort zone with relative ease is powerful, and can make a real difference to your life as you lean into discomfort rather than try to avoid it.
4. Better Decision Making
You know that internal dialog we can have when it comes to making a decision:
- What if it doesn’t work out?
- Have I made a mistake?
- There is no way I can do that
Even small decisions like where to go and eat can become a stressful experience. The pressure of making decisions can feel overwhelming at times.
When you are out traveling alone, deciding which new country to go to can become an exciting, and relatively simple decision as you regularly choose a new destination.
Where to eat, what to visit, speaking to new people, these are just a few examples of decisions which become easy.
As you travel to new places, you are always having to make new decisions, as this becomes part of your regular routine you no longer question yourself as much and just make a choice.
This can have incredible benefits to your personal growth as you develop a strong decision making process and confidence in your ability to do so.
5. Learn New Skills
To sustain long-term travel requires either a certain amount of capital or the ability to make money on the road.
For me it had to be the latter, and with that I had to develop new skills… Quickly. There are many opportunities to make money while traveling and the ability to learn can help you find different ways to do so.
I left London with my laptop and a determination to make money and sustain a life of travel. I spend a lot of time learning new skills and honing my craft to make me employable for clients.
Not only does this allow a level of freedom which I have not had before, it has also made me more employable and allowed me to become specialized at a skill other people will pay money for.
It can also make you more employable in the future as you have shown that not only are you skilled, but that you are self motivated, determined and disciplined enough to do it yourself.
6. The Power of Gratitude
Once we have the ability to be grateful for everything in our lives, we immediately let go of so much bullshit we harbor and let drain us of our energy.
It sounds, and is much easier said than done however the impact it can have on our daily lives is incredible.
While traveling I have become grateful for the smallest things, from the sunrise to help others have given me.
By living with gratitude I have been able to remove further from my insecurities and fears as I realize they are nothing more than my imagination playing tricks on me.
The truth is that I was holding myself back from my potential and goals because instead of being grateful for what I had and my abilities to achieve more. I was comparing myself to others, questioning myself and holding onto resentment.
Living with gratitude for every situation, person and moment in life and understanding how it is shaping me as a person has allowed me to live with love – most importantly love for myself.
7. Less Anxiety
Anxiety can cripple us, and rear its ugly head in all sorts of situations. In the past I have felt anxious just going to store, and I have spoken to many others that have felt the same.
This level of anxiety can really hinder our growth and stop us from taking the steps required to reach our given potentials.
There were days where I just wanted to stay in bed and avoid the world, wandering why it is such a horrible place.
I now look forward to most of my days, there are still some difficult days, but that is human. Travel has opened up the world and shown me there is kindness across multiple cultures, religions, traditions and countries.
I feel confident enough to go out into the world, into new countries and know that I am a person of value.
Traveling the world alone is not for everybody, it is not all beaches in paradise and it is not the easiest way to live.
I have been thrown into constantly uncomfortable situations, everything has definitely ‘gone wrong’ and I have had times of difficult loneliness.
It is because of these moments I have become more at peace and more confident in myself than ever before.
The adventures have been great, the friendships made have been incredible and the countries have been the stuff of dreams.
The good times have been exceptional, and I am grateful for each one, and the difficult times have helped shape me as a human being.
If you are thinking about solo travel, check out my post on ‘How to Live a Nomadic Life’, the impact it can have on your personal growth is powerful and can stay with you for a lifetime.
Solo travel exposes you to life and yourself in the most raw way possible, if you have any thoughts, questions or want to share experiences from your own travels, please leave a comment below.