“Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.” – George Eliot
Confidence, or self-esteem, is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” It can be “built up” or improved by revamping outfits, signing up for acting workshops, or starting a new hobby.
But another more adventurous way of improving self-esteem is through travel. Visiting a new place is an opportunity to start anew, because no one knows you. Travel also requires you to get out of your comfort zone.
Not convinced? Here are other ways going around the world aid in improving self-esteem.
1) Realizing that solitude is not a solution.
“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
Sometime in the middle of your solo trip, you’ll find yourself yearning for your mom’s nagging tone, your sister’s “Are we there yet?” monologues, and the constant pit stops at public restrooms as per requested by dad. Being in a foreign country is already difficult enough. But it’s even tougher without company.
You never have to worry about not making any friends during the duration of your travel. Possible life-long acquaintanceship can blossom between train or plane ride seatmates or hostel roommates. But this will only happen if you have the guts to strike up a conversation with strangers, whether they are locals or fellow explorers.
Making friends with people from all walks of life will definitely give you a broader view of life. It will also convince you to take even more trips in the future, confident that you’ll (hopefully) have ready-made accommodations – and friends – to meet again.
2) You’ll constantly have to communicate with strangers.
Prove to us that you can travel and visit a foreign city without asking for directions – ever. Chances are, you’ll only run into them once in your life so there’s no point in feeling embarrassed about your amateur foreign language skills.
No matter how bad you are at making small talk, you’ll have to get over your socially awkward tendencies and go for it. Who cares if you screw up your sentences and mix up your verb tenses while ordering at a restaurant?
Embarrassing moments make good stories. Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with a fellow lone traveler on your next plane ride. Not only will this help in improving self-esteem, who knows if you’ll meet a life-long friend along the way?
3) You get to put your foreign language skills to use.
Even if you have to speak in broken Greek, at least you’re trying. Before you know it, you’ll no longer have to mentally translate sentences word for word. Believe it or not, it takes guts to approach a local only to end up being misunderstood in the end.
Don’t fret! There will always be strangers kind enough to help.
If you still haven’t gotten enough courage to use this tactic in improving self-esteem, then let technology help you a little. Installing basic, FREE, travel apps on your phone, like TripLingo, will ensure that your expeditions and encounters go as smoothly as possible.
4) Minimalist living.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Believe it or not, improving self-esteem can start with improving how you pack. You learn to set your priorities straight. Something as simple as holding back on the shopping, hoarding, and over-packing can finally be under your control.
You appreciate simple living more. You’re confident that you can get by with just the basics.
Clutter also takes emotional form. Compared to traveling with company, choosing to travel alone lessens problems and miscommunication.
5) Travel is a form of exercise, too.
“It is solved by walking.” – Algerian proverb
Often times, we display the luxurious and pleasant side of our trips on social media, completely disregarding the struggle and physical effort behind the scenes. Navigating train systems, running to catch up with your flights, walking uphill, and lugging your suitcases around.
Yes – staying in shape while traveling is inescapable.
The intensity however, is up to you. Going on afternoon or morning runs may feel more rewarding because there are many scenic routes and views to enjoy.
Waiting in line to see the iconic Mona Lisa burns 50 calories in an hour. Trekking across the Great Wall earns you a couple thousand steps on your pedometer. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!
6) Better decision-making skills.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
From deciding what train or bus to take, or whether or not ordering that dish will be worth it, travel puts our decision making skills to the test. If you’re traveling alone, you have no choice but to take initiative of your actions as no one else will do it for you.
Will it conflict with any future plans? How much baggage allowance should I get? Window seat or aisle? To stay in a hotel or hostel? Should I go on a cruise or schedule my own flights and layovers?
Even booking plane tickets requires some serious thought.
The more decisions, big or small, that you make on your own, the more you learn to trust your instincts and build confidence. Made a wrong choice? Take it as a lesson learned.
7) Self-discovery always helps in improving self-esteem.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
As cliché as it sounds, you will come home a better person than you were before you departed. You learn to be comfortable in your own skin since you’re forced to live with only what you brought with you. There’s no doubt that traveling solo certainly helps in improving self-esteem.
For one, you find your voice despite the language barriers. If you can make your way around China or Europe without breaking down, you can make it anywhere. The irony of travel is that even if you feel “lost”, you end up finding yourself.