2017 was the year I traveled solo for the first time of my life. Despite all of my personal doubts and fears and wondering what I will do there alone, I started to travel Italy on my own. I bought an Interrail Pass and visited cities like La Spezia, Rome and Naples. Without having a friend around and without having a specific plan?!

I remember that before I decided to do so, I had some conversations with my family and friends, all asking me if I am sure to do so. If I want to have the risk that nobody is around to help me in a difficult situation. That being alone in a foreign environment can be extremely dangerous, especially if you consider the news and what is happening in this world right now. But, despite all these thoughts and warnings, I decided that with 21 years the time has come.

During my solo journey in Italy, I learned a lot of different things. From more about myself and how I act in stressful situations in a foreign country, to how to speak to strangers. Therefore, with this post I want to share the top 5 things I have learned while I was traveling solo this year:

#1 Being alone isn’t that bad

It is actually great to go alone to a foreign place or country. Why? Because you can do whatever you want. Nobody is sitting next to you and grumble that you have overlooked something and that the feet are tired. Because you are alone, you have the full control about what to do. One day in Rome, I was so fascinated, that I walked about 25km! I was so happy exploring the streets and seeing, feeling and smelling different impressions around every corner that my foot didn’t get tired. Something, I am sure, I would never do with a friend or family member. But this is only one example. Being alone means deciding everything on your own. When you wake in the morning, when you start exploring, where to go to dinner, what to see in the night… You and only you alone have the full control.

#2 The world isn’t evil

Despite all negative news concerning terror attacks, evil people and dangerous areas, I experienced that most of the time it is the opposite. Strangers are nice to you and help you out. All the time. Although actually, they  are all evil and bad? What is happening here? Did I overlook something? Was there a hidden camera? No. People are simply nice to you, if you won’t act like a typical tourist, only interested in taking your pics and eating your gelato. I lived in a dorm in Rome and one evening the guys there invited me to join a traditional Colombian dinner… in Italy. Not the thing you would expect, but guess for how long I knew them. Right, 3 days.

So, what I want to tell you here is, that news make everything worse. About the factor 10000. For sure, there are some evil guys out there. And of course, the ongoing terror attacks are a tragedy, but you don’t have to fear the “evil” in the world. There are amazing people who will treat you well, if you do the same to them. Don’t hesitate to meet them!

#3 Spontaneity becomes your new friend

Another truth I have learned during my journey. Welcome to life, when you are a planner. Instead of spending nights editing photos of the past day, I found myself walking through the night of La Spezia with two Canadian girls. Instead of visiting an island next to Naples, I found myself looking for something to eat. What I want to tell you here, is that you will start to appreciate random things which happen along the way. Even if they include that your “plan” won’t work. You will be okay with it. Not the first few times, but then you remind yourself that you are on a solo journey and you start to smile again.

#4 Communication is everything

Communication becomes your new friend, even if you are an introvert or shy. With traveling solo, you start to understand that communication is a must to get to know new people/opportunities and also to avoid getting lost at a foreign place. Sometimes, you have to ask for the next train at Milano Centrale and another time you talk to guys from your hostel wondering what they do and where they come from.

Even if you don’t like communication at first, it becomes your handy tool to get to know all the information you need. Sooner as later you will include communication in your daily life, even if it is simply because you don’t want to spend the whole time alone.

#5 “Comfort zone?”, never heard of this!

My last point is probably the most important. Instead of living inside of your comfort zone, inside a five star hotel with friends surrounding you, you will see yourself talking to strangers, asking them for the direction or which train to take. You will find yourself, sleeping in rooms which smell like an Indian temple, tasting fried bananas with salt or simply walking with two Canadian girls through the streets of a foreign city.

Leaving your comfort zone, is what traveling solo is all about. You do things you would never do with your friends and that is great. Because you will experience totally different sides of yourself and become more confident on a daily basis. You start understanding that talking to strangers isn’t awkward but necessary, to understand where you are and where you can get something to eat. You connect to strangers realizing that there are some amazing personalities in the world and grow yourself while doing it. How couldn’t be this amazing?!

Especially this last point is the reason why traveling solo got me this year. It was an amazing experience, I don’t want to miss it and I will do something similar again next year and in the future. Traveling solo is experiencing what traveling is really about: making the best out of awkward situations, while getting to know new places, great cultures and amazing people.

What are you waiting for? There is a world, full of friends you haven’t met yet, waiting for you!

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