3 ways that solo travel toughens you up.

Get out of your travel comfort zone and become a better person.

There is no better mentor than travel.
I say this having made five trips this year, with one more on the way.
But this post is not about me, nor the amount of travel I’ve done this year. It’s about how travel has the power to mend social connections, build empathy and generally change your perspective.
Right off the bat, let me lay down three very general observations (purely anecdotal, FYI) about society at large:
1. Social anxiety is on the rise.
2. Social connections are becoming more tenuous.
3. People are becoming more insular.
Everyone seems to be carrying some sort of trauma with them, whether it be from their upbringing or perhaps past relationships. This means people are scared to put themselves out there and build bonds with others. As a result, they become more insular, which in turn only triggers more anxiety.
As much I’m generalising here, the result is that most people are petrified to throw themselves into the adventure of solo travel, for fear of being alone, freezing up, or facing some sort of insurmountable crisis.
The good news? You have pretty much nothing to worry about. My experience has been the complete opposite of what I’ve described above. Let me tell you why travel has been the best mentor I could have ever asked for in 2019.
1. Solo travel hardens you TF up
The science behind muscle hypertrophy is pretty simple. Placing your body under mild physical stress triggers an adaptive physiological response in response to training. In much the same way, having to deal with certain situations alone while travelling can tap into a fight or flight response which builds your stress tolerance and makes you a more savvy traveller in the long run.
I love that travel has, in a sense, made me battle-hardened. It sounds masochistic but that’s just part of my personality. There’s no-one else to turn to, except yourself. Solo travel teaches you to think on your feet, make quick decisions and stick to them. Streetwise, some might say, but there’s more to it than that.
More importantly, solo travel forces you to rid yourself of the paralytic fear of what people think. This is an emboldening feeling – tough to explain but truly liberating when it does happen.
2. Solo travel makes you more empathetic
As much as solo travel builds the mental resilience I’ve just discussed, I’d also say that it makes you far more accepting and tolerant of others. When you’ve conquered that hurdle of moving beyond your comfort zone and putting yourself out there, you very quickly begin to realise that we’re all facing similar struggles and challenges. And that’s not just reassuring, but it’s kinda poignant, too.
3. Solo travel imbues you with social currency
Social currency is pretty tough to define, but what you need to know is that it’s about more than just social capital and looking good for ‘Gram. Sure, it’s great to flex on followers with that beachside selfie but the experiences that you absorb from solo travel, that is something which is tough to put a price on. You see, when you have shared experiences with someone else, you instantly become more relatable. It’s the reason that most people are choosing to eschew a life filled with things and going increasingly for an existence predicated on adventures.
When you travel solo, you learn to read situations. You learn to read people. I wouldn’t call myself shy, but I there were times when I felt intimidated in the presence of people more senior than myself. Facing my anxieties head on during solo trips has changed my outlook on that entirely. We’re all similar and there’s no reason to live a life dictated to you by others.
How has travel changed you as a person?
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