Things I learned from traveling solo – PART I

When I was 22 I started traveling solo. My travels and experiences have been the best life teacher so far. I want to share things I learned from traveling solo and how they benefit my life today. This is part one.

Traveling doesn’t necessarily mean going on holiday or far abroad. I more mean these little and big journeys you do alone. This can also be only one day out in another city for example. Doing things alone is not something everyone likes but it can teach you a lot of things. I’ll start this series with two things I learned from traveling solo.

NO I. Listening to my gut feeling

Do you know that feeling when you’re about to make a decision, then suddenly many pros and cons come into your head and you try to weigh up the different options? But you don’t really come to a conclusion although the list you made is totally making sense? In these moments it’s best to listen to your intuition. Your intuition doesn’t care about the rational facts or social influence, it just knows what’s best for you. Using your intuition can make many decisions and their outcomes much easier for you.

I learned to listen to and trust my gut feeling.

During my travels I had to face beautiful but also challenging situations. Through these moments I learned what I like, when I feel good, what I need to feel good and the opposite. I learned how I feel in different situations and therefore became more and more familiar with my inner feelings. I started learning to listen to my gut feeling instead of giving the stage to my “brain”. In today’s world we’re taught to make decisions based on rational facts and therefore forget to hear into our innerselves. Connecting to this inner voice again is possible. I think especially through experiences.

In which moments do I benefit from my gut feeling?
  • Group activities vs. me-time: When I’m in hostels or other social spaces there are many group activities to join. Whether it’s a trip oder hanging out in the evening. I love it! But sometimes I need some time for myself or rather prefer to do what I wanna do. By listening to my intuition I know when it’s best to join and when not to join. I stopped forcing myself to engage in every activity because I know that once I follow my intuition I will have the best time.
  • Where to go and what to do: I stopped making plans when going on a trip. Of course I have a rough idea what I want to see, but I leave the exact when and where to my gut. Maybe on one day I feel like going on a hike and on the other day I want to drive around and visit a beach. Or maybe there comes a total different thing to my mind. Whatever it is, if it comes from my gut and is not thoroughly planned days before it will sure be nice. Also when there’s a “must do” activity like paragliding I only do it when I have this specific feeling inside of me. Otherwise it’s not worth it for me personally even if 99 % of people recommend and enjoy it.

I guess there are many more examples like when to stay and when to move on or which people to be around with and which not. Especially when the new year is approaching I sit down, listen to my gut and then visions and personal goals for the next year are coming to my mind. I write them down and most of the time I actually make them happen.

Listening to the gut feeling can lead to pure contentment.

NO II. Change needs time

I would say that I got kind of addicted to change. When I was younger I wanted to change my room setup every three months. Now I like to change my environment every 3-6 months. On some days there just comes a new idea or inner feeling which I want to follow, and most of the time it includes a new destination and adventure. However – and that’s the funny thing I still don’t understand – a few days before the change I always start to feel a bit uncomfortable. Even though I’m the one initiating the change I’m scared about the things that are or are not going to happen.
After many travels, some of them included being away for 6-9 months, I started to realize and thus accept that:

1. I’ll always be a bit afraid before the change and my brain (not my intuition, that’s where we come back to the first point) doubts my decision.

2. I need at least one day & night to adapt to the new environment.

Just a couple of hours after I arrived in my hotel in Bangkok for the first time in 2015 I wanted to go straight to the airport and fly back to Germany. After a few days though I started adapting and liking it. And even on my latest trip to Tenerife I wasn’t feeling very comfortable both in the surf camp and coliving on the first day.

Thanks to my travels I learned that this feeling doesn’t have anything to do with the places. It is just me needing some time to adapt.

I can only advise you to never let your first feeling decide over your next steps but rather go through it and let some days pass. It also helps a lot here to differ between gut feeling and brain. Your brain needs energy to adapt to new circumstances. Of course it therefore wants to stick to routines and tries to keep you from facing new challenges as it requires energy.

Accept and embrace

I accepted that I need to give myself time to adapt and also to have trust that I will adapt. And seriously, after 1-3 days everything has always been fine! Before I knew why I have these feelings I had many moments where I was mad at myself for not liking new environments straight away. Or for not being able to fully open up to people after a long time not seeing each other. Fortunately I realized after a few years that this is just who I am and it’s okay, it just takes time.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of the series. Read the second part here.

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