You probably have at least one country on your bucket list.
Or all of them like me (hehe). After quitting my corporate job to travel on a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, I’m here to list 29 life-changing reasons you should travel solo.
If you’re scared, I feel you! On my flight to Costa Rica, I contemplated getting off and buying my ticket right back home.
A million thoughts ran through my head.
I’ve never been to Costa Rica.
I don’t know anyone.
I feel sick.
Well, if you’ve thought about making your first solo trip, here’s a taste of what you can expect.
1. You’ll make things happen.
I once crossed the border from El Salvador to Guatemala, with only $7 in my pocket. Why? Because with my luck, none of the local ATM’s accepted my debit card.
The bus to the city ended up costing $14, and I had half of that.
We made about an hour stop to pick up more passengers in, which meant I knew it would be dark by the time I got to Guatemala City. You never want to arrive somewhere at night alone.
Guatemala City was just my transfer spot, and I still had to catch another bus to Antigua. But, it turnouts I got on the wrong bus.
I had no cell service, so my host waiting for me in Antigua, had no clue I was going to be late?
Luckily, the bus driver said I looked like an honest person and let me get on the bus with only $7.
During that hour’s stop, I found an ATM and took out cash.
Yes, I got on the wrong bus, but the driver was kind enough to take me to where all the buses disperse.
A lady on the bus let me use her phone to call my host.
And I made it to Antigua.
When push comes to shove once you set your mind on something, you don’t know how, but you’ll make it happen.
2. Become a Problem solver
If you’re an overthinker like I was, hey! You’ll learn to go with the flow of things because life is better when you don’t complicate it.
3. Leader of the Pack
Growing up, I dont know how I had friends because I was always so quiet. But traveling is an entirely different ball game. You’re out there, boo!
You make the decisions, the power is in your hands, and no one can tell you what to do.
P.S you’ll probably meet a first-time traveler along the way and take her under your wing. Yup, you’ll be that good!
4. You’ll Stop Caring
If you’re always worried about what people think, trust me, you’ll get over that quickly.
I think this pairs well with # 4. After you stop caring about what people think, your confidence will spark. And I mean in everything.
6. Collect memories, not things
The best souvenir you’ll bring back home is the memories you create.
Did you know Honduras had a bunch of little Islands? I didn’t. This fisherman lived on one of the prettiest smaller islands, fished every day for the big island, and had the best stories.
7. Better cook
Four ingredients? No problem.
I learned how to make one of the best homemade marinara sauce from an Italian friend I met in Costa Rica. She could pretty much make anything from a garden.
8. Better negotiator
I should’ve made this number one on my list. You’ll quickly learn how to bargain like a local. #moneyneversleeps
9. Get Lost
Our 2-hour hike turned to 6 hours because we got lost. And, after walking so much after this, I built up quite the appetite.
Always carry more snacks, haha.
P.S always remember to sign in to the guest book when you first get to the trail if they have one.
10. Mental health
You’ll discover what it’s like to get away, breakaway, and leave it all behind. It’s incredibly liberating.
Oh, it’s five miles away? I’ll walk.
Transportation doesn’t cost much, but you’ll find yourself walking almost everywhere.
12. Enjoy being alone
If I could accomplish this, I could do anything. You’ll quickly realize how important it is to be ok with being alone if you have to.
13. Put Yourself Out There
You won’t know why you’ve been living in a shell all these years.
If I told you I could swim, that just meant I knew how to doggy paddle.
If you took me to the deep end where my toes can’t touch the ground, it’s game over.
But guess who learned to swim and now has their scuba diving license. Me!
15. Pro Hiker
On top of walking everywhere, you’ll do a ton of unexpected hiking.
While in El Salvador, I wanted to visit this famous volcano. On the way there I met two new friends, and when we heard you could hike to the crater, we went for it.
That turned into a four-hour hike, but we did it!
16. Life long friends
When you come back home, you’ll realize you’ve made friends from all over the country. Goodbyes are always bittersweet, but how awesome is it to know that you have friends all across the globe.
17. Say NO
If you don’t want to do something or agree with something, you won’t, and that’s 100% okay.
18. Never alone
If you’re scared of being alone, trust me, you won’t be. You’ll meet people on the bus, in hostels, on tours, at restaurants, at the beach oh god the list is endless.
95% of the time, after arriving somewhere alone, you’ll have walked away with new friends.
All I can say are layovers.
That’s me right there during an eight-hour layover from Cancun to Chicago. I set up my little space and did all I could do, get comfy.
You’ll create your definition of rich. Like my little Cuban cafecito, you don’t need much to make you happy.
The most spontaneous decisions happen in the spur of the moment.
Do you take too long to order food? Order what’s popular.
Don’t know where to head next? Talk to travelers; they know all the right spots.
22. No such thing as boredom
Let’s face it; it’s not every day you can go volcano boarding, so when you can, you do.
And when you’re not out there being adventurous, look around, you’re in a completely new country.
Walk outside, read a book, or go through your travel photos.
23. Won’t settle
Since when did we let society’s standards dictate what we do and by when.
As you get closer to 30 and you tell people, you’re not married, don’t have kids, and are single, you’ll sound unrealistic. But this won’t bug you.
You’ll be too busy not settling for what you want.
24. Take risks
Honduras and El Salvador don’t have the best reputation, along with many others around the world, but my family and friends specifically told me not to visit these two.
And you know I was ok with that.
But after hearing so many amazing things about these places from other travelers, I wanted to go find out for myself.
So I put my brave face on and went to both of these countries.
Then this happened.
I made new friends, hiked up a volcanoe and down to the crater of one, discovered pupusas de loroco (yummm), and discovered that both countries had ancient ruins.
25. Change view of the world
All those materialistic things that mattered back home won’t, anymore. Give me, history, connections with people, exciting conversations, laugher, and kinder hearts, instead.
P.S you’ll save a ton of money living a simpler life.
26. Listen to your gut
If something feels wrong, leave.
27. Foreign love
You wouldn’t have traveled if you didn’t hit it off with someone completely unexpected.
Bring on the cheesy love stories.
I mean, c’mon! I know I used to be the queen of Mexican telenovelas, but I couldn’t make up some of the most romantic and adventurous times I had.
28. better listener
Having meals together is probably my favorite part. You’ll laugh a lot, fall in love with a love story, and wonder why people are so sucked into their phones back home.
Nothing is braver than doing what you dream of doing.
Getting on that plane and
saying, “Why, not.”