15 LESSONS LONG TERM SOLO TRAVEL TAUGHT ME

It’s officially been a year since I left my past life, and went on the road in pursuit of my dreams to travel the world and become a digital nomad. Yay me! As you can imagine life constantly on the move is totally different than life with a steady 9-5 job. There are many things you learn when you’re alone, many hurdles you cross, and things constantly happen that are completely out of your control and you learn new ways of dealing with them. There were days that I wanted to give up, there were days I wanted to cry, there were days I completely missed everyone (even my eyebrow threading lady back home). But at the end of the day, I was completely ok with all of this because this is the life that I have dreamed of and made for myself. So here are 15 lessons I learned after 365 days of solo travel.

My new lifestyle is more affordable than living back home

When I started my digital nomad life I didn’t give up my adulthood, I still have rent to pay (even if I’m renting from Airbnb month to month), buy groceries and have credit cards to pay off, but I quickly learned that moving every 3-4 months  is costing me less money than living back home. Sure I lived in one of Americas most expensive cities, so anything compared to Chicago will be less expensive. However, I’m not always picking the cheapest cities to live in (I lived in one of Asia’s more expensive cities for a few months). Airbnb is an amazing option to rent apartments month to month without a lease, shopping at local markets or supermarkets can be very affordable, and you can book flights with budget airlines out of the country for as low as 5€ sometimes (I once got a flight from Berlin to Cologne for 1€).

I become creative with how to earn money

I took a huge pay cut when I left my corporate job. Even though my actual living expenses aren’t as high now, it kills me not having that bi-weekly steady paycheck and knowing I can’t afford everything anymore. As I’m still growing my online businesses and this blog I had to come up with creative ways to earn money. I taught English online, translated, wrote, designed, programmed, corrected grammatical mistakes on restaurant menus and found other creative ways to earn money. Things I would have never imagined doing, but had to and enjoyed.

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I’ve made sacrifices

I’ve missed holidays, birthdays, weddings, and everything in between. Sometimes I feel down (and a little bit of FOMO) that I wasn’t there for the people I love but I have to remember that their life, as well as my life, has to keep going and this is the life I chose. I’m making my own memories.

I learned who my real friends are

These are the people that I still talk to on a regular basis, that check in with me to see if I’m ok, the people that I still have massive group texts with and it feels like I’ve never left. I’ve had friends that I used to talk to every day slowly fade away because of the distance but I talk to my best friends and family on a weekly basis. These days technology is amazing! These are the friends that are there no matter the distance.

The world is a pretty safe and generous place

The media really loves to talk up the terrible things that happen in this world. Sure there are terrible people in this world, but there are far more good people in this world than bad people. I have experienced strangers welcome me with open arms (in third world countries) to their house and these were some of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

I’ve pushed myself to my limits

Because no one else is there to push you. I’ve done things that I have never in a million years thought of doing, I faced my fears, built a new career, and learned new skills. All of which I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t push myself. I learned to be my biggest cheerleader and my own worst critic.

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It’s important to have a like-minded community

I’ve always had groups of friends that supported me no matter what, but living on the other side of the world has made me realize how important a support group is. Having like-minded people there (even if it’s virtually) is soooo important for long-term travel. I’m part of many Facebook communities that connect like-minded travelers. Some days if it wasn’t for them I would have quit.

I’ve had good days and bad days

We all have good days and bad days no matter where you are in the world. There have been days I’ve missed my family and friends more than other days, and there were days I haven’t felt as happy in a really long time. These days happen, it’s only natural I just have to remember that the good days outweigh the bad ones.

Solo does not mean alone or lonely

I’ve never been a person that had a problem making friends nor being alone. But this entire year I’ve been away I was really solo for the first time ever. I’ll admit there were a few days where I felt lonely but I learned to occupy my time so I don’t feel alone and the next day I was fine.

You can be whoever you want

I’m not saying I was walking around lying to every person that I meet, but this was my opportunity to be whoever I wanted. I’ve had days I wanted to be friendlier, less social, days I told someone I was a foreign exchange student, days I lied about my relationship status. The possibilities of being whoever I wanted wherever I wanted were endless. I had fun with it!

I learned to downsize my life

When I started my journey I knew I was going to downsize my life. I started off with packing up my entire house into storage and into one suitcase. I then left that suitcase at my grandfather’s house in Poland and only traveled with my backpack. I realized that I don’t use half the things I originally brought with me so there was no need to carry it all. Downsize then downsize again. Sometimes it’s better to live a minimalistic lifestyle. My back and pockets will be thankful later.

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I didn’t like every single place I went to

There’s an awesome website for nomads called NomadList that I use religiously! I use it to pick places where I will be living for a few months. Based on these scored I chose to live in Taipei for a few months. I didn’t love living there. The city itself was beautiful but I was there during a wrong time of year, where it rained and was cold almost daily. I had a harder time meeting new friends, and the overall vibe of the city I didn’t fall in love with. I learned this to be true when traveling too. We are all different and we will not all like the same things. Cities you love, I might hate.

Traveling to new places loses its touch

I was on a train from Zurich to Strasburg looking at all of the beautiful houses and admiring how beautiful the French countryside is. Then when I got to Strasburg I was like WOW this is such a beautiful city. Then I continued and went to Colmar, I thought WOW this is such a beautiful city, then continued again and went to Dijon and this time I thought to myself, sure it’s a beautiful city yet again but it’s all starting to blend in and look the same. The touch of being in a new city slowly started to fade away for me because I was constantly changing cities. I really enjoy the 3-4 months I spend in a new city then travel a couple of weekends a month to change up the scenery. When I was constantly on the move it started losing its touch.

Long-term solo travel isn’t for everyone

Simple as that. You really have to be a strong-minded person to be able to move to a new city every few months completely by yourself without knowing anyone. It’s not for everyone but it’s for me and I love it!

I might never come home

I always knew the world is a beautiful place but it wasn’t until I really went out there to see for myself that I realized how beautiful it was. I’ve spent 25 years living in America, 3 years living in Poland, and the last year living on 2 different continents in 4 different countries. It’s great to come home and see all of my friends and family, but I love doing what I do from the other side of the world. I’m not sure if I can ever settle back in America.

Here’s a  snippet of my life from the last 365 days (1 second a day).

Xoxo Ania Travels 💜



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It’s officially been a year since I left my past life, and went on the road as a digital nomad. Here are 15 lessons I learned after 365 days of solo travel. It’s officially been a year since I left my past life, and went on the road as a digital nomad. Here are 15 lessons I learned after 365 days of solo travel.

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  • Frankly I have’nt done much of solo travelling. I always wondered how soon I’d get bored being all alone. But then I imagined creating new opportunities and making new friends. Gotta try this out in a strange land sometime!

  • I love that you left your 9-5 and chased your dreams! I don’t travel solo, mostly travel with my husband but a lot of your lessons rang true to me as well. I love exploring the great big world, and it is really more friendly than the media makes it out to be.

  • Dada KS

    It was fun reading your post as we are leaving as a family “digital nomad” next spring. What I have heard is that there are a lot of digi that work more than travel while we will travel more that work. My husband will be working between 20-30% just enought so we can travel a little bit longer.
    I wish your online business a lot of succes and have fun while exploring the world!

    • Ania Ewelina

      Oh goodness! That sounds soooo exciting, I one day aspire to be a nomadic family, just need to find my mr right. I look forward to your adventures

  • Congratulations on reaching your first year of realizing your dreams and being persistent about going for it and sharing it to inspire others! You are indeed an inspiration. Just love your blog and all that you have to share. Great video btw…that’s an amazing collection of clips.

  • Natalie Walsh

    Wow what a read. Sounds like your first year has been amazing. You only live once and your clearly making the most. Your living a dream ive alqays wanted. I may follow in your footsteps

  • Shannon – Fit SlowCooker Queen

    Reading this might be the kick I need to finally go on my 1st solo travel trip. Thank you!!

  • Hayley Hornberg

    Truly admire your travels alone. That’s so courageous and inspiring. I’m currently starting a 15-month trip with my husband and being able to share the journey is something I’m really looking forward to. Kudos to you for solo travel!

    • Ania Ewelina

      That is amazing! Congrats and I look forward to your stories.

      • Hayley Hornberg

        Thanks, Ania 🙂

  • Ania, congrats on your achievement (which by no means it is a small achievement). I am glad you have learned so much in the past year. I am not sure why but sometimes we learned way more about the and the world when we take radical or difficult decisions. I am sure things are going to get better in the business sense. Building income while on the go is not as simple as it sounds. Wish you the best. Keep writing since I enjoy your stories and photos a lot! #feetdotravel

    • Ania Ewelina

      I totally agree, sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones and learn from the world. We can learn much more just from living life than from any textbook.

  • Shannon Bradley

    Well done you. I’m sure your adventure will be inspirational to many people out there looking to do the same thing. Long may you continue enjoying!

  • Akamatra

    Well you are really brave to leave everything behind and start nomad traveling. I admire you for going after your dreams.

  • Congrats Ania! I find these stories so inspiring. Not sure that I could do this long-term, but I admire your conviction and fortitude. Question: How do you find and vet long-term (one to three month) AirBnB rentals? I find almost all list daily rates.

    • aniahalama

      Thanks Lane, so yes all of them do list daily rates. However if you change your length of stay to a month or longer it will show you a monthly rate. Everyone usually offers a discount (at least 30% and up to 80% I’ve seen) if you book monthly. So it’s totally worth it.

    • Ania Ewelina

      Hi Lane, thanks so much, I love to inspire people with stories like this. So actually… Airbnb has a month to month option. If you actually put in a full month it activates the month rate. Which is nice because the month rates are are usually anywhere between 20-80% off the day rate. Hope this helps.

  • You’ve done so much in a year! I love the video at the end, I always think about doing it but never actually do…

  • Hi Ania,

    I so know what you mean about traveling to new places losing its touch. We visit each spot for 1 month at least in most cases and in some cases 2 or more months. For that exact reason why you only want to do longer term travel. For me it becomes one big old rat race, a blur, and totally defeats the purpose of actually experiencing a place, when you are sprinting through it.

    Awesome share.

    Ryan

    • Ania Ewelina

      EXACTLY!!! And the rat race is exactly what I wanted to escape. Being somewhere for at least a month is perfect!!!

  • kathryn Maher

    Wow!…. I’m very impressed by your travel ethic. Your fearless attitude to travel is awe inspiring. I would love to have your courage and get up and do the solo travel trip. You will have memories that will last a lifetime. Priceless! x

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thanks so much Kathryn, I hope you can at least have one solo trip in the future 🙂

  • Kristine Nicole Alessandra VA

    Awesome! I always wanted to do as you did, but raising a family is such a huge responsibility that has tied me down and limited my travels. It makes me happy that you get to see all those places!

  • David Elliott

    I can imagine having so many different amazing experiences and not wanting to come back to the simple things. That’s great everything you have been able to do. I think I would like that to a point. At some point I would want to settle down and have a consistent connection with people and a place. Although some people that’s not what they want. And that’s great if this is who you are.

  • Great post with great truths… downsizing and sacrifices are needed to support travel (for the most of us). And how much have you seen/done in a year? Impressive. I often wish I could travel more but I would miss my furbabies too much so travel PT and remain inspired by people like you.

    • Ania Ewelina

      I’m glad I can inspire you, if I had any pets I would definitly miss them too, but hey you can be one of those cool traveling gals with your pets 🙂 Keep traveling!

  • Alexei Gaynanov

    Great post and a really honest one – the lessons that different people will take away from travelling will vary but your points would definitely resonate with most long-term travellers out there. I am quite an independent person and would love to make that my life but I don’t really know where to start as unfortunately I don’t have as many marketable skills for being a nomad! Good luck to you in continuing your adventure!

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thank you, I hope you can make your way to be fully nomadic one day.

  • MRS LAWAL

    This is truly awesome, I wish I can also travel and see the world. This is very inspiring and looks doable.

  • You raised a lot of good points about the long term impact of traveling… It is the same for business travelers who are frequently on the go. I think it is wise to take breaks in between travel spots so that the original Wow is not jaded.

    • Ania Ewelina

      I totally agree, if you’re constantly on the move it starts to lose it’s touch.

  • We definitely admire solo travelers. We’ve actually had many of the same lessons in our travels, too!

  • Pack Your Baguios

    What an amazing experience you’re having. I’m happy with my summer & weekend travel and also enjoy my time at home. I’m glad you’ve found a travel schedule that works for you!

  • Peter Mackay

    “The world is a pretty safe and generous place”

    Amen! As a photographer, I photograph lots of things, but the photos that draw the best responses are of other human beings. We are wired to interact with and be hospitable to others, especially solo travellers.

    As a child, my family moved around a lot, and after a while, the concept of “home” and “home town” grew to be a movable feast. Nowadays I think, well, I’m not home where all my stuff is. I’m right here, right now, living in the present moment. Sometimes it’s a weary seat in an airport terminal, sometimes it’s a cafe with a bottle of wine and a fabulous outlook, but the key point is to enjoy the moment, not to have my mind always living someplace else.

    You’ve nailed travel. With this attitude, the world is your home.

  • Peter Mackay

    I loved your post! I’ve taken the liberty of adding a low-res photo, a paragraph of your text, an introduction of my own, and five links here: http://athousandflights.com/year-world/

    • Ania Ewelina

      Thank you so much for sharing my story Peter, I really appreciate that and that means a lot to me!

      And thank you for the kind words, peoples interaction is so important and amazing to see it’s sad more people don’t want to experience that. Keep traveling, I look forward to your stories and photos as well.

  • Zehra Ciftci

    Really thought provoking post. And thumbs up for your honesty! I am still new to solo traveling and I am not sure If I would like to keep it long term. I feel like sooner or later I will need a break from changing places every few weeks. I admire you for keeping it up a whole year 🙂

  • Shawna Morrison

    Not gonna lie, I absolutely envy you!! I would love to take a chance to have a life like you do, but I think that i am way too pessimistic and terrified of failure to even take the leap. I love how you point out the positives and negatives here, but ensure we know it all. Great post!

  • Kumar Goundan

    Ania, what a wonderful and enriching life you have! The traditional ways of life aren’t for everyone and you embrace fully what you truly want to do! I look forward to seeing you for New Year’s.