A journey always seems rosier in retrospect, but traveling is a wonderful way to learn about the world and about yourself if you are willing to be adventurous and take a reasonable amount of risk. For example, instead of eating at McDonald's while in France, you could eat at Quick (a French fast food chain).
Some adventures are better than others and sometimes it is through making mistakes that we come home with the best stories. According to Pico Iyer, traveling helps us to find ourselves. It would seem that finding ourselves would be the ultimate independence.
I suppose traveling has different effects for different people. You do learn to look out for yourself, and you probably come home with a stronger sense of maturity, self-reliance, and independence than you had when you left. For many it does not allow them to become independent because they have to come back home again, and they will usually be poorer if not completely broke. While traveling the traveler may experience the illusion of independence, especially if he or she is young and has rarely been away from home. For many people travel is a disillusioning experience, partly because where ever you go you find that someone already owns everything and will charge you to eat, sleep, visit all the places of interest, and even in some cases just to sit down. If you travel in foreign lands you may feel like a complete idiot because you can't speak the language. You may meet a lot of people, especially if you are young. Most of them will also be travelers. The native inhabitants are not usually keen about meeting people passing through their homelands but often consider them a nuisance. You are sure to make a lot of mistakes on your first trip. Chances are you will be very happy to get home and sleep in your own bed and speak your own language. I love the line from Baudelaire's "The Voyage" which I can't resist quoting in French.
Amer savoir, celui qu'on tire du voyage.
That means: "How bitter the knowledge that one gets from travel!