When you travel by yourself you open up a whole world of opportunities. Literally. You’re more likely to burst out of the bubble you’ve created for yourself since high school and try new things – and you never know what they’ll lead to. Exciting!

There are many things about travelling by yourself for the first time that might seem intimidating, but once your journey has begun you’ll start to love it and the things that worried you before will soon feel everyday.

Trust me, I travelled solo for over two years, and had an awesome time.

Solo travel

1. Eating out alone becomes totally normal 

Imagine eating out by yourself… ewwww. This is one of the things I often hear new gappers worrying about when it comes to travelling alone, but give it a week and you’ll barely notice. In fact, it’s liberating. You can stay as long as you like, order what you want and maybe even get chatting to the person on the next table.

Eating in restaurants or at street food stalls alone becomes a habit out of necessity, and in time it could even become favourable too.

2. You get to know yourself, maybe for the first time

For some, going through school with the same people, living in the same ‘hood and having parental input into your life means that you’ve never actually had the time to get to know what you’re really like.

Without the well-meaning pressures of friends, family and education you can really get to know what you’re capable of, and maybe ‘find yourself’ too.

If nothing quite that dramatic happens, at least you can do what you want all day every day.

3. You’ll share a room with 20 others to save some cash

One of the best ways to save money travelling is to stay in hostels, in a room with a bunch of strangers. Could seem intimidating at first, but you’ll soon get to realise that no one wants to steal your toothbrush and it is in fact the best way to make friends.

Travel for long enough and you might even want to venture into the 40-bedders *shudder*.

Female Backpacker at Grand Canyon

4. You won’t miss home

There might be a flash of something on Facebook or Snapchat that gives you a pang of homesickness, but don’t be surprised if in general you kind of forget about home.

Every day is a crazy and awesome adventure when you’re travelling and time will pass by in a flash thanks to all the over stimulation and excitement.

Just remember to call your parents every now and then – they’ll miss you.

5. You’ll make some of the best friends you could find

There’s a certain breed of person that likes to travel, and you can sum it up as ‘awesome’. It’s highly likely you’re going to meet some excellent people, especially if you’re planning on joining some sort of project for a week or more.

Like-minded, like-awesome, and thrown together in a random situation? Sounds like a recipe for friendship to me.

Group of friends taking selfie

6. You can get by with very little language skills

There’s no need to learn Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian before you go off on your gap year, trust me. It’s actually amazing how much body language you can get by on. Of course it makes sense, and shows respect, to learn a few words – the pleases, thank yous, hellos and goodbyes of this world – but unless you want to, you don’t have to worry about taking your language skills any further. You just kind of have to think in context and you’ll soon be able to work out what that sociable local is trying to say to you.

A big smile and a friendly demeanour can go a long way when you’re trying to make friends with someone who doesn’t share your language. And if that doesn’t sound like you right now, it will be once you’ve boarded that flight to the land of the gap year.

7. You’ll do some mad stuff

I’ve skydived. That’s crazy. I’ve also helicoptered over New York, seen the Grand Canyon, skied in Japan and sailed in the Philippines. I mean, how awesome is any one of those things? Put it all together and I’m kind of overwhelmed by the epic life experiences I’ve had thanks to travel. 

No matter where you’re going on your gap year I’m sure that at some point you’ll have that ‘yay I’m on holiday’ feeling and throw yourself off a bridge in the name of bungee jumping, go trekking in the name of Instagram-worthy views or canoe down some obscure river, just for the craic.

Open your heart, your mind and embrace everything that comes your way. Enjoy!