5 Lessons I Learned By Traveling Solo

I took the leap two years ago. I decided that my white college apartment was getting too stuffy for the dreamer inside of me. I needed an adventure to challenge myself and find some direction.
12/02/2015 11:25 am ET Updated Dec 01, 2016

Written by Alexandria Yepsen, Contributor for The Outbound Collective

I took the leap two years ago. I decided that my white college apartment was getting too stuffy for the dreamer inside of me. I needed an adventure to challenge myself and find some direction. I applied for a job in New Zealand and a month-and-a-half later, I was trading the Carolina heat for the wintery chill of a quaint town on the south island of New Zealand, Dunedin. In the short three months I was there, I learned more than I ever would in my four years of undergraduate education. Out of all of my lessons, these were most convincing that I had made the right choice.

1. You are 100% reliant on yourself.

When your plane touches down in your destination, you most likely won't know anyone and come to the realization that you have only yourself to rely on. In an instant, you learn what you are truly capable of. You aren't alone either. Uncertainty, excitement, and even a little fear are all a rite of passage for anyone who decides go for a solo adventure.

2. You only need to worry about your own schedule.

Yes, it may seem perfect to move somewhere with your significant other, or a best friend, but don't put your happiness on the back burner for someone else. Before you know it, leaving in a month can quickly turn into leaving in two years. That perfect moment when both of you are ready may never come. Trust yourself, and trust me when I say you will meet amazing people when you get to your destination.

3. The clock is ticking.

You might tell yourself that you have time, but in reality, life is short and the world is ever-changing. Everyday historic cities, monuments, and traditions are slowly leaving this earth. See them before they are gone! See them so you can tell your kids and grandkids about them. Traveling not only shows you amazing things, but it turns you into a storyteller for future generations, and the world needs more storytellers.

4. You will meet interesting people.

When you travel alone and stay at a hostel, more than likely you will run into other solo travelers. These people will be some of the most fascinating people you will ever meet. They will inspire you to do new things and to continue to travel this world. You never know who you'll meet next or where they might take you. You might learn tricks of the trade to continue traveling and make some money: become a nanny in Paris, a volunteer surf instructor in India or maybe teach English.

5. You will figure everything else out.

Many times people don't leave because they feel as if they have things to deal with at home. Trust me when I say it will work itself out. Not everyone will understand why you left, but when you return they will. The friends and family that you really care about will keep in contact as much as possible, and they will understand when you are too caught up in finding adventure to email them back. When you return home the ones who love you and care about you will be right there to hear about all your adventures and wish they had tagged along.

In the end, you can't have someone tell you what the world is like - you have to find out for yourself. It is ok to be alone and enjoy new things with just yourself. New Zealand showed me that. I met great people, learned about a new culture, made amazing friends and best of all I started to find myself. You only need to remember that the world will support you and your endeavors. You must be fearless, you must be brave, and show that a little rebellion can be a good thing. Take the leap and always choose adventure.