I was 15 years old when I had my first solo travel experience. I was going to Turkey to stay with my aunt, uncle and cousins for a month. Although I wasn’t going to be living with strangers this would be a totally new experience for me. I spoke a bit of Turkish, and had previously visited my family with my parents, but I still had infinite doubts and worries as I boarded my first solo flight. Luckily I managed to hide my pre-trip anxiety so my parents wouldn’t cancel my trip at the last minute. Turkey, here I come!

5 Things You Learn When Traveling Alone - Sofia

The journey turned out to be absolutely horrible. I made it from San Francisco to Los Angeles and desperately navigated my way from the domestic to the international terminal. I arrived on time only to find that my flight to Istanbul had been delayed for 3 hours. One we finally landed in Istanbul – after 11 hours in the air – I had of course missed my connection flight and it was very late at night. I was tired, overwhelmed and just wanted to be with my family.

But then, when I finally landed in Antalya, my final destination, everything fell into place. My cousins ran to greet me with open arms; I felt at home. Despite one of the biggest meltdowns of my life at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the trip was an amazing experience. I learned a lot and grew so much before heading back home, not just during my trip, but also during the chaos of that dreadful journey.

Here are five of the things you learn when traveling on your own.

1. How to Make Your Own Decisions

When I hang out with my friends we often spend the first twenty minutes or so trying to decide where to go, what to do or what we want to eat. When you are alone you have no one else to ask or consider in your decision making. How you spend your day is completely up to you. You learn to trust your gut and make quick decisions – especially when you miss your flight and need to figure out a way to get where you are meant to go!

5 Things You Learn When Traveling Alone

2. Your Likes and Dislikes

While you are making your own decisions you also realize what things you are truly interested in. Maybe visiting a famous landmark just is not your style and you would rather spend hours admiring art in a museum or munching your way through every stall at a food market. My favorite way to see a city is through visiting coffee shops and cafes and exploring the neighborhoods around them. Traveling on your own you can do whatever your heart desires.

3. How to Spend Time Alone

Personally, I used to love my time alone at home. I could spend countless hours reading blogs or binge-watching shows without being bothered by being on my own. However, now that I’m at university I’m surrounded by my friends all the time and I get bored much faster when I’m by myself. Traveling solo teaches you to get used to being alone and how to fill your time without your friends. When I’m traveling alone I notice that I talk to myself (a lot) and I am much more aware of everything that is happening around me. One of my all time favourite things to do when I’m alone is people-watching.


4. Another Language

Although I visited Turkey every summer since I was 2 years old I didn’t speak very much Turkish when I was 15. I used my dad’s knowledge (Turkish is his native language) as a crutch and relied on him to translate everything for me. But when travelling solo, I was forced to speak for myself and I quickly began learning new words, phrases and nuances of the language. Now, before every trip I like to learn a few crucial phrases in the country’s language: Hello, Please, Thank You, Where is…, Good morning etc. Without anyone else to rely on, it’s up to you to be able to speak for yourself.

5 Things You Learn When Traveling Alone

5. How to Talk to Strangers

When travelling solo, you will get lonely at times and that’s okay. Take advantage of the moment and seize the opportunity to meet someone new! Chat with the cool barista; sit down next to another person who is on their own and say hello; talk to the person seated next to you on the plane; introduce yourself to a local to find hidden gems in the city you’re visiting. Most people appreciate a friendly face and you meet the most interesting people when traveling. Here are some awesome tips on how to connect with locals while you travel.

Do you have a similar experience? What have been your favorite go-to tips for travelling solo?

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5 Things You Learn When Traveling Alone | Travelettes.net

This is a guest post by Sofia Serdengecti.

camel Sofia is from the San Francisco Bay Area and studies Political Science at Santa Clara University. She grew up spending her summers traveling to Europe and staying with her family on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey. Sofia writes about style, travel, food and coffee on her blog Leyla. You can also follow her travels on Instagram @sofialeyla.