Traveling is one of the best and most rewarding things you can do with your life. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already agree! It allows you to see all the amazing places the world has to offer, from beautiful beaches to busy cities. But traveling leaves you with more than lovely memories — it teaches you valuable life lessons, too.
Don’t Be Scared – It’s Really That Simple
I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly brave; however, when I first told people about my decision to travel alone for seven months, a common reaction was: “That’s so brave. Aren’t you scared?”
My parents, in particular, were super anxious at first. My mom asked me several times if there wasn’t anyone I wanted to travel with. Preferably a guy… even better, a very tall and strong one. But there was no one who I could imagine spending seven months with and who shared my exact ideas and plans for backpacking.
So, I boarded the plane by myself, and although I’d told everyone that I wasn’t scared, I did have a nervous feeling in my stomach. If I’m totally honest, the first couple of days weren’t the kind of liberating experience I had in mind. I didn’t know how to approach new people in hostels (more about that in #3), didn’t sleep well in a room full of strangers, and I was scared about someone stealing my passport or credit card.
Eventually, solo travel grew on me. Like all things new and unfamiliar, you need an adjustment period. It turned out to be the best decision and one of the greatest experiences of my life! And that’s despite the fact I did end up having my credit card details stolen and more than 2,000 Euro taken from my account! I managed to block my account and get a full refund, so, in the end, it wasn’t that bad!
Things will happen while traveling, regardless of whether you’re going solo, with a partner, or with friends, and being scared won’t change anything.
The Importance Of Trying New Things
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous point: you won’t only learn not to be scared, but also how to embrace new opportunities and things that happen unexpectedly.
Before leaving Germany, I planned to always say “yes” during my journey.
Consequently, I ended up rock climbing in Salt Lake City, paragliding over Hawaii, sleeping outside in the Australian Outback, and eating bugs in Thailand.
None of this was planned and I think I’d have said no if someone had asked me back home. I’d never been interested in climbing, heights, meeting reptiles at night, or snacking insects, yet every single experience was amazing!
Push Yourself – Talk To People
As mentioned earlier, I had a hard time approaching people at the beginning of my journey. I didn’t really know how to start a conversation or ask someone if they wanted to do something together without sounding needy.
I don’t think of myself as a shy person, but it just felt odd! So, whenever I was in a hostel, I waited for someone to approach me. I was lucky that this happened a lot — as is often the case in hostels — and I slowly overcame the weird feeling of throwing myself into a conversation with someone new.
The longer I traveled for, the more outgoing and confident I became! The vast majority of people I met along the way were great! We went on amazing trips together, had interesting conversations, and even better parties. I’m still in touch with many of them today, and two even became very close friends.
Being able to start conversations easily and confidently is a skill that I still benefit from today. From professional networking to making friends in a new city, traveling has taught me not to overthink starting conversations anymore.
On one hand, meeting new people is very interesting, but, on the other hand, it can be challenging. Most travelers will have great stories to share and you’ll get along with them well.
There will, however, be people with opinions that are fundamentally different from yours. In my opinion, however, those are the most interesting.
When abroad, I always do my best to stay away from other German travelers. It’s not that I don’t like them, but rather that I feel like I can talk to Germans any time! But I only have the chance to speak to someone from Malaysia, Australia, or India at that given moment. I love hearing their personal stories and finding out more about their country and culture — and, if they’re interested, I’ll tell them about mine.
The open-minded attitude I got from traveling helps me every day, as I currently have colleagues from about 40 different countries. I love being part of such an international environment every day!