No matter the amount of research you do on solo travel, you won’t ever feel the difference between being home and being away on your own until you jump into your own trip. It may be scary to be completely alone, but throughout your journey, you will realize just how rewarding it is after you look back at who you were before and at all the obstacles you never thought you'd get past.

At the end of August, I left my city of Vancouver, Canada for the east coast and visited Montreal and New York for a total of two weeks. I never planned to travel by myself this early in life, but at the time, when I decided to make this dream come true, it just felt right. Most of the people around me were scared for me and their fears didn’t hit me until the night before I left home.

Here are five lessons I learned on my first solo trip:

1. The Importance of Being Open-Minded

Reality may not line up with your idealistic views, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn around an unpleasant situation. Being in a new city will no doubt alter your plans, because you have almost no idea of how things work and how to navigate yourself. You may not be able to change what’s going on around you, but you can change the way you deal with it because you are in control of your feelings and actions. Take every event as it is and do your best with it.

2. Learn From You, Learn From Others

Regardless of how grounded you feel within yourself, you’re bound to learn even more when you solo travel. Aside from the abundance of moments alone, your everyday interactions with the people you encounter can also teach you a thing or two about who you are as a person.

Whether that be someone you’ve asked for help when you're lost or the airport security officer checking your luggage, I’ve observed that the attitude that I project onto people is reciprocated. Kindness attracts kindness, so always choose the latter and it will definitely make you feel more comfortable with every step you take.

3. Realizing What You Already Have

At some point on your solo trip, you’re going to feel an absence within yourself and a longing for your loved ones. In the beginning, being on the opposite coast made me feel very far away from my friends and family, and there were times when I wished they were with me, both because I was in a foreign environment and susceptible to the unknown, and because I missed sharing moments with others.

It’s easy to take for granted who you have back home, because you rarely imagine your life without them, but being away makes you realize how much they really do mean to you.

4. The Difference Between Living & Surviving

When you travel, your mindset changes. Instead of being back home, sometimes, we wake up thinking “Another day... how am I going to get through it?” Whereas while you’re on vacation, you’re seeing each day as an adventure and thinking of how you can possibly cram all of the places you want to visit and attractions you want to see in less than twelve hours.

It’s easy to take things slow in your normal life because time doesn’t seem to have an expiry date. We all know that life has a limit, so why are we not living each day like it’s our last?

5. Traveling Alone IS Possible!

No matter how introverted you are, you’ll eventually force yourself out of your comfort zone. No matter how independent you may be, you’ll learn that working with others takes a lot of pressure off you and asking for help doesn’t make you weak at all. No matter how many people tell you that you can’t, you can and you will. 

Whether you choose to solo travel for the purpose of meeting people, getting away from home, or seeing if you can make actually make it, every experience is different and regardless, you will grow from it and carry it along with you for the rest of your life’s journey.