Before I set out to see the world, it was a far off dream, a goal I had set for myself and a desire to see the world in a new way. It was scary and it ended up happening all at once: I was alone on the road. And it’s one of the best and most magical experiences I’ve had in my life.

Here are seven of the myriad things I’ve learned from traveling alone – seven ways that solo travel made me grow as a woman.

Seeing the world and making new friends along the way are just two benefits of traveling, but there are so many more ways solo travel makes you grow as a woman.

1. You realize you don’t need to be afraid of being alone.

There is a subtle shift that happens when leaving familiar ground. Especially for women, we are often taught that we are vulnerable when we’re alone and over time, sometimes we may even come to believe this to be true. But when traveling alone, we realize just how far our community stretches, even around the world. For every bad person out there, there are ten or a hundred that will help you.

Walls that have been built up over time are replaced by an openness and excitement to meet new people since friends and family are no longer around to spend time with. Suddenly there is time to engage with a random stranger on the street or to acknowledge a smile. Now you can make up new relationships on the fly and this happens with a surprising reliability, as soon as you trust yourself enough to go it alone. There are friendly and generous folks everywhere, just waiting to be met once you become open to new encounters.

2. Self-confidence buds.

From the inside out, traveling alone pushes you to do new things, or to do old things but in a new and different way in a foreign place. From long cross-country bus rides to figuring out lodging on-the-go, to letting yourself just fly so freely through a new place, all of these experiences allow you to see your own strength and capability, anywhere in the world. Of course, there’s bound to be setbacks along the way, but seeing how you respond to adverse situations you’ll get to know yourself better. Facing a situation that makes me feel afraid and then after I’ve gone through with it, I always feel strong and realize there’s no reason to let these fears define me.  


3. The freedom.

There is nothing like traveling alone to realize you can do what you want, when you want to do it. Gone are the limitations of your normal routine or the expectations of people who know your habits. You can leave the path you’ve always walked for something new and you will also be pushed to realize what it is you truly do want just because there’s no one else setting a schedule or dictating how you spend your time.Your days are as open and free for you to create whatever it is you feel like doing right then and there. And being alone means you don’t have to negotiate or justify this to anyone. This is a radical and beautiful act of getting in touch with yourself.

4. Realize your strength.

There are strange and deeply ingrained fears about being alone, almost as if there’s something shameful in it. But when traveling alone you’re pretty much guaranteed to face at least one restaurant by yourself, and will probably realize you don’t actually care so much about being alone after all. Letting go of your fear is almost a requisite of spending time by yourself on the road. You’re strong, and capable of doing things by yourself and enjoying them.

Seeing the world and making new friends along the way are just two benefits of traveling, but there are so many more ways solo travel makes you grow as a woman.

5. Forget traditional gender roles.

At home it’s easy to get into certain roles, but when you get out of your daily routine and onto the road, it’s almost an instant transition to realizing that the possibilities are limitless. When you have free time you can make of it what you will, the journey is yours to shape and to be shaped by. And where that will lead, who really knows?? Often things just unfold as you go, you just have to open yourself to the possibilities and enjoy the view along the way.

6. Learning how to say no.

This is such an important lesson I’ve been learning, and it is so true for women who travel alone since we’re often very conditioned to think that saying yes is a requirement and not a choice. But this way of interacting with people just doesn’t work when you’re by yourself in a foreign country. Your alarm bells may be ringing and you will have to find the way to say no to bad situations or less than desirable companionship, clearly and often. 

So many people who see a woman traveling alone automatically assume that, of course, you’re going to want their company, when this often isn’t the case. Once you’ve gotten your time alone, it’s up to you to guard it as the precious gift that it is. You have to fine tune your readings of those around you and navigate it all in a place that’s completely new. But, now that you’ve gotten in touch with what it is you really want to be doing, this starts to come more and more naturally.

Seeing the world and making new friends along the way are just two benefits of traveling, but there are so many more ways solo travel makes you grow as a woman.

7. Truly value spending time with yourself.

Ultimately people travel alone for all different sorts of reasons, but for me one of the most beautiful components is truly getting to spend time with myself. You can clear away all the rest of the clutter and get to truly check-in and see where your heart is at, something that you can more easily ignore when you’re surrounded by other people. We’re social creatures, but alone time is vastly underrated and a little of it goes such a long way for the heart, the soul and the mind.

How does travel make you grow?

This is a guest post by Amanda Gokee.

Seeing the world and making new friends along the way are just two benefits of traveling, but there are so many more ways solo travel makes you grow as a woman. Amanda Gokee is a freelance writer and traveler currently living in Mexico City. She graduated from Harvard University in 2014 with a degree in Romance Language and Literature and since then she’s been on the road, from the mountainous wilderness of California, to the south of France and across Mexico.  You can follow stories from this journey on her website or on Instagram @inklingafar.