When I started to tell my friends and family that I was going to live in Berlin. Their first question was the same: With who are you going to Berlin with? When I said I was going on my own, their responses were all very similar. “Wow, that shows character!” “Aren’t you scared?” “Will it be safe?” “Alone? I could never do that.”.
Are you thinking about travelling alone or are you about to? On today’s blog post, I share 8th things I’ve learned while travelling alone.
1. You learn to speak another language.
I remember when I moved to Berlin. I thought I knew German, I had German in high school and it’s quite similar to Dutch (I thought!). It turns out that phrases like “Sehr Gut” and “Guten Tag” definitely is not the same as ordering a cocktail or asking anyone for directions. I mean body language can get you only so far, but learning a couple of useful phrases can get you further. It is also super annoying if you can’t get your point across because you don’t master the language fully.
So just give it a try would be my advice! Speak the language. Nothing builds a stronger connection and the locals appreciate it when you try :).
2. You learn a new definition of freedom.
At home, I was used to the daily demands, responsibilities and my ambitious goals in my life that the cause of freedom remained a mere fantasy. The freedom I got from travelling alone was one of the best things I have ever experienced. I mean I could do what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted (!). Well, that feeling of freedom when I was travelling, I believed was something that I needed to feel in everyday life. Because of travelling, because I gained that feeling (experience), I pushed myself towards that believe and managed to implement into my daily attitude. By giving myself more time to do the things I love doing. Not in a selfish way! But in a balanced way (always try to keep the balance).
3. You learn to make new friends.
This is so true! You will build new relationships on your journey, even if you’re shy or an introvert like me. I love being alone and explore a city on my own. But there are times that I would like to talk or hang out with someone (balance is key). It doesn’t take much. A friendly smile. A helping hand. A friendly hello. And I know how tempting it is to check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat when travelling. I did check Social Media frequently at the beginning of my travelling whenever I missed my friends (which was basically all the time). But my advice is to resist checking Social Media as much as you can. Simply because you want to live in the moment. There. Where YOU are. What is in front of you. And to take that change to get to know someone. I made some of my best friends abroad.
4. You learn to be open-minded.
It’s no secret that if you want to make the most out of what the world has to offer, it’s best to keep an open mind. Travelling invites you to experience the unknown. In order to experience this one must keep an open mind. It’s key, because (speaking from experience) you won’t go far with a closed mind. When I travelled alone my beliefs got tested many times. Because travel brought awareness to my blissful ignorance. With an open mind, flexibility comes easy. Which is important – there are so many different cultures, beliefs, values and morals to consider. I am not saying put your own aside. What I am saying is keep an open mind and stay flexible.
5. You learn to live with less.
You can’t bring everything with you. Not even when you are making a move to another country, you know it’s time to say goodbye to a few things. I remember that in the beginning, this was very VERY hard for me. I missed certain clothes, makeup, shoes and other personal belongings, but after a while, it becomes a welcoming routine. Because let’s face it you don’t need 8 different pairs of jeans. I learned to live with 3 (still allot huh;)) and that was enough! The main reason why I got rid of the things I really don’t need, it’s easier to live with less than it is to drag around on useless stuff. I am a small girl so bringing all my things with me was always a hassle. Less stuff meant to me less trouble. Besides, you can buy it again, if you really want to. I also learned a valuable lesson that in the end what matters are your memories, relationships and if you are happy.
6. I learned to appreciate more
I believe that it’s important to take the time to be thankful for things in your life daily simply because you will receive more by doing it. The amount of gratitude I experienced came on many levels. I pray (almost) every day thanking GOD for everything. This is something I have been doing from a young age so showing my gratitude is not something that is new for me. But what was new is the amount of gratitude I experienced came on many levels. And there were so many things to be grateful for. I am not saying you have to pray in order for you to show your gratitude. There are many other ways to show your gratitude and appreciation. I am grateful for my life and with that comes a deep appreciation for what I have each day, the people I have met and the challenges that come my way has opened my heart to the blessings that existent every single day. And I am also grateful that I am a black young woman who can travel solo. I mean a little 100 years ago this was not acceptable! Grateful for the women & men who fought for this.
7. You learn who’s and what’s important in life.
You live you learn that’s just part of life. But when you move abroad one of the first things you will notice is that your relationships are put to the test. When it comes down to friendships, time away really sets in stone, quality over quantity. Coming back home from the travels I was being much more interested in the friendships that support you in your journey, the ones that are like your cheerleaders on the side. Screaming your name to go and kick ass. The friendships that were filled with neediness, control, drama and any other negativity needs to go. My time is precious and I eliminated the friendships that had no support or anything that felt negative. It truly amazed me how time away alone could really open my eyes to unhealthy friendships.
8. You re-invent yourself or truly being yourself
No one knows you! So it’s an amazing opportunity to try new things or do the things you haven’t had the courage to try. For me, it was learning something new. I moved to Berlin to become the best online marketer ;). And I found different ways to enhance my knowledge on that topic. I started working at a startup in Berlin, I attended workshops and I read allot on the internet but also in books. And it definitely helped me to grow personally and professionally. It’s also a great way to introduce you to new people and thoughts.