To travel is a journey into yourself.
Travel is more than getting to know new places. Travel is about getting to know yourself better, about learning what you want out of life, about personal growth. By overcoming different fears and obstacles during your journey, you will become aware of all the things you are capable of. There will be things you thought you cannot deal with. But you can. Travel increases your self confidence because you learn that you can achieve more than you have been aware of.
You learn to manage the following things, be proud of it!
Find your way
Arriving in an unknown city, you have to find your way to your hostel, have to find your way around the city, find something to eat, find the places you want to see and the experiences you want to make. Simple things like being finally able to read a map or your improved sense of orientation will give you a huge boost of self confidence when being on the road for the first time.
You notice that you can manage things on your own even though it looks undoable in the first place.
Talk to strangers
Being on your own forces you to talk to strangers. May it be fellow travelers in your hostel or locals on the street. You have to ask for directions, for information. You talk to other travelers to have some companion, to get some insider info for your next destination and especially to make some new friends. You normally wouldn’t talk to a stranger in your hometown. But being on your own, in another country, you have to be open-minded, get out there and talk to people especially when traveling solo. It will become easier over time as you get some practice and see the benefits of your actions.
And with that, you will also notice that you are not alone. Everyone has fears and had to overcome obstacles along the way to make the dream of traveling come true. And you are one of those who made it work.
Deal with emotional roller coasters
Your problems don’t disappear just because you’re away from home. On the contrary, I find my ups and downs more intense when traveling. You are on your own. There usually is no familiar person you can talk to in person. You will face a lot of great moments when you want to hug the whole world, when you are speechless due to the kindness of other people, moments when you want to cry out of happiness and then suddenly fear or homesickness hits you right in the face.
Every traveler has to deal with those emotional roller coasters on the road. And they make you stronger. You learn to deal with them more easily over time.
Welcome unknown things
You not only see new places you always wanted to see, you try new things. New food, new sports or extreme activities, learn and live in another country. You have to accept another country’s customs and behave accordingly. Unknown things are scary at the first time. But when you welcome the unknown and maybe find something new you’re good at or at least you like doing a lot, your self confidence will grow.
Travelers are exposed to change on a regular basis. Changing places, changing faces, changing languages, changing customs and traditions, changing do’s and don’ts. Change is scary for a lot of people but when you travel you learn to embrace change. And it isn’t scary anymore, it’s getting kind of addictive. You want to see new places. You want to meet new people. You want to learn about other cultures. You want to work in different jobs and learn. You want to make it work. And you will because you see opportunities instead of obstacles.
Trust your gut
One of the things I’ve learned during my travels is to trust my gut more than my brain. The brain is full with pros and cons, with more doubts than positive expectations. In the end your heart knows what you want, it knows whom to trust and how to continue your journey.
My brain said it’s foolish to quit your job and go into the unknown life of a long-term traveler, but my heart knew it’s the right thing to do. And I haven’t regretted the decision for one second.
If you feel uncomfortable in the presence of someone, you leave but if you think you can trust that person, stay and make a new friend. I’m not saying you should trust everyone, be careful, but don’t let your journey be destroyed by the fears and doubts your brain makes.
I had fear of traveling on my own, of ending up without money, of feeling lonely, of getting lost somewhere and not finding my way back, of dangerous situations, of other’s opinions. But let me tell you something, I quit my job anyway and started this trip without knowing what is going to happen.
As a traveler you have to overcome fears and when you have overcome those and see what you are capable of doing, you will be incredible proud of yourself. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
Leaving your comfort zone
All the above mentioned point include that you are forced to get out of your comfort zone, I would say at least on a daily basis. When you talk to fellow travelers in the hostel, when you ask for directions, when you try a new activity you haven’t done before. Travel is a continuous journey of growth and learning. And this isn’t possible by staying in your comfort zone. The name already tells you, it’s comfortable and you won’t make change and growth happen in there.
At home you might have to leave your comfort zone once in a while, maybe during your job when you have to execute a new task, call to a new client or something like this. But when you travel, you don’t have the choice. You have to leave your comfort zone and again seeing what you are able to do and with which situations you are capable to deal with makes you a stronger and more confident person.
See what you’re capable of
As I already said a few times, by overcoming your fears and obstacles on the way, leaving your comfort zone and allow changes in your life on a regular basis, you will be amazed of all the things you are capable of. Things you thought you can never do or achieve. But by setting one feet in front of the other, you’ll see it’s possible.
Learning a new language might be such a thing as well. You start learning a language and are happy when you can order a beer in a pub. Then you learn more and more words over time and are able to have a simple conversation with a local. What a boost for your self confidence! You’ve never thought you would be able to talk to someone in this unfamiliar language but with willpower and motivation, you can make it.
Travel makes you a happier person
All in all travel makes you a happier person, you can fulfill your dreams, see the places you wanted to see, make the experiences you want to do, try the food you want to do and maybe try new jobs you’ve never considered before. You find joy in the ordinary. You understood that your life is limited and you want to live it right.
I read recently that people who travel smile more than people who stay at home. Travel is a rich source of happiness. And when you are happy with your situation, with your surroundings and especially with yourself, it is easier to be self confident.
So for now future-travelers, I give you one advice:
Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must but take the step.