1. You inevitably make some pretty stupid mistakes.
Without a fellow traveler to watch your back, your basic common sense is more likely to slip through the cracks. This means more chances to book your hostel for the wrong night, overpay for a ticket, or lose your keys. Cue feeling like a huge idiot.
2. But then you realize pretty quickly that those mistakes aren’t such a big deal…and you’re a lot more resilient and resourceful than you thought.
As it turns out, you’re not a huge idiot. Yes, some mistakes make a big mess of things, but most slip-ups are easy to fix with a few minor adjustments, which we only realize when we’re in situations where we have no choice but to face them—like, say, alone in Thailand when you’ve lost your phone.
3. You miss basically everyone you know.
Who knew you even liked people so much? With each passing thought you find yourself more and more bummed that you have no one to bounce your ideas off of. Wouldn’t it be nice to share all these beautiful sights with someone?
4. Until you decide you are actually totally over everyone you know.
As the days drag on, your pangs of loneliness might evolve into a triumphant inner soundtrack of who needs other people, anyway? With nobody around to bug you, your days are totally yours to fill. You can wait in line for some trendy new pastry for three hours and nobody can complain about it! You can stay out as late as you want! You can spend the whole afternoon sleeping without any judgment! Company is overrated. How are you ever going to travel with anyone else ever again?
5. You romanticize your adventures for roughly ten seconds.
You’ve read enough Eat, Pray, Love to inevitably slip into a daze of imagining yourself as the star of your very own adventure drama, taking a harrowing journey as your adorable Euro-chic skirt billows perfectly in the wind. You may even start to plan out the memoirs you’ll write about your travels when you’re rich and famous –that is, until you step on some unidentified gross mush in the street and jolt yourself back to what is probably a tired, broke (but happy?) reality.
6. And you notice magical details of your destination you’d have never spotted in a group.
New surroundings are always a shock to the system, but having nobody to chit-chat with as you take in the locale makes you totally observant of the beauty around you.
7. You feel more alive than you ever have before!
You’ve never been so present in the moment! Not only are you in an unfamiliar place, but you’re all on your own, and this new world is in technicolor. Is everything this vibrant back home? Have you been missing life’s amazingness all this time?
8. Your newfound perspective gives you a brand new view of your everyday life.
The magical feeling of vacation may leave you longing to make big changes in your life back home. Right about now, you may either be missing the comfort of your routine or wishing you never had to go back home again. It’s a perfect chance to take stock of your life and to get a grasp of just how vast the world is past your own backyard.
9. Being on your own gives you a whole new level of self-trust.
You and you alone are looking out for your personal safety. You start to trust your gut more than ever, because it’s all you’ve got to go on.
10. Still, you’re now painfully aware of the more unglamorous sides of travel.
It’s not all glorious new discoveries and living your best life in front of scenic Instagram backdrops. Travel alone is full of less-than-flashy experiences like sleeping on lumpy bedding, stumbling over new languages, loneliness, motion sickness, and (if you’re lucky) finding yourself humbled by just how much you still have to learn about the world.
11. Oh yeah, and you’re always going over your budget.
No matter how much (or how little) money you thought you needed to get through this trip, it wasn’t enough, which you will find out approximately two seconds after arriving. Get ready to pinch some pennies or tap into that savings account! Hey, it’s as hands-on as budgeting lessons come!
12. You might even decide solo travel isn’t really that fun or magnificent after all.
Sometimes, traveling alone isn’t any more powerful than a family trip or a staycation in your own cozy apartment. It doesn’t always bring the earth-shattering revelations that rom coms and chick lit claim it will. In fact, it can be kinda draining and uninspiring.
13. You’ll definitely consider giving up and heading home at least once.
Maybe you’ve just gotten pick-pocketed or are really missing your friends and family back home. Maybe you’re just lonely and tired and nothing seems fun anymore. Sometimes, it just seems so much easier to call it quits and book an early ticket home.
14. But through it all, you’ll realize you can handle just about anything.
The most hopeless, terrifying moments of your travels are also the moments you realize just how much you can tackle. When the world feels like it’s ending, or even just when you can’t read the local metro map and have to guess where to get off the train, you have no choice but to prove to yourself that you can get through. Every minor stressor you overcome on becomes a major self-esteem boost. When you’re on your own, managing to order coffee in the local language without stumbling is enough to make you feel like a superhero–and that feeling doesn’t have to fade away once you get home!