What I learned from traveling alone

What traveling alone taught me and why you should try it for yourself.

Right after graduating in computer science, I got the best job I could have dreamed of: IT technician in an international company. At 19, I took my first trip to Asia. It was the first time I was leaving Europe, I had absolutely no experience in flying longer than one hour, least of all in discovering other cultures. So I took a plane from Zurich to Singapore, then from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I’ll never forget the feeling that grasped me when I walked out of the airport and saw these busy streets full of scooters, people and cars honking. My face was glued to the cab’s window, I was watching everything like a kid discovering Disney World for the first time.

I then spent 4 years traveling often in Europe, Asia and Africa. I spent hours on planes, in airports, in my hotel room and nights in the office. Have you ever watched Up in the air? Well, it was not so far, although I was (fortunately) not traveling to fire people.

A friendly “chôm chôm” fruit seller I met in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I loved so many things about traveling alone I can’t list them all, but here are the ones which are the most important to me:

  • Getting out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing like being lost in a city you don’t know to learn how to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as you.
  • Being more open to others’ culture. I used to think I knew other cultures thanks to documentaries or articles, but realized that the only way to do so is to immerse you in other cultures. When you’re traveling alone, you have no other choice than stepping into new experiences.
  • Getting to know yourself. When you spend hours alone in an unfamiliar environment on a plane or in airport halls, you have time to think about who you are, your goals, your philosophy.
  • Being independent. when traveling alone, you’ll have nobody to tell you where to go or what train to take. You’ll have to learn how to cope on your own.
  • Being more patient. Depending on where you are, very simple things (like a visa on a passport) can take a lot of time! You have to deal with it.
  • Being more thankful for what you have at home. It may sound stupid, but having a fast and reliable Internet connection, permanent electricity or drinkable water right out of the tap is a luck, and the best way to realize it is to travel to places where things are a bit more complicated.

Even though I’m now married and not traveling for business anymore, I sometimes leave a few days, alone, just to enjoy these moments with myself.

What about you? Have you ever traveled alone, and do you enjoy it or not ?

If you want to follow my travels, don’t hesitate to get in touch on my Instagram!

PS: English is not my mother tongue and I’m always happy to improve, don’t hesitate to let me know if I made mistakes :-)