How many times have you tried to nail a date for a trip with friends or family? Or perhaps, how many times have you managed to actually pin down a date for a trip with your travel mates and then failed to decide on the destination and your entire trip goes kaput? I’m sure these scenarios are no stranger to you.
So why travel solo? The question is, why not? Most people you ask will cite fear of being in a foreign place as the most common reason why they do not travel alone. In fact, the “aren’t you scared?” question will probably be one you’ll encounter most often, if you ever do travel solo.
Travel Solo : The Easy Way
Traveling solo doesn’t have to be adventurous. It doesn’t have to be backpacking or doing the craziest things. In fact, traveling solo can be as pampering as checking into a spa resort in an exotic country and enjoying “me time” in luxurious comfort.
The first time I traveled solo wasn’t quite solo. I bunked in with my sister who had been posted to Hongkong for 2 weeks for a training stint, for a week. Other than seeing her when I got back to the hotel at night, if she wasn’t in bed already, I was on my own! I experienced a freedom I never encountered. The freedom of exploring new places, new shops, new cafeterias. The freedom of fully immersing in a culture of loud people, amazing food and crammed and crowded places.
The next time I did something similar, I went to Western Australia, camped in my friend’s spare room, dog-sitted her then newly-adopted husky and explored the expansive suburbs solo. I hopped on a different public bus everyday, taking in the sights, smells and people, without knowing exactly how to get back in the evenings. Somehow I always found my way back ‘home’. I grabbed my friend’s surfboard and lugged it, all while trying not to look stupid, a block away, to the beach. I attempted to get on the board in the waves. It was after all, my first time surfing (or attempting to surf), ever. I didn’t manage to, got swallowed and spitted out by the huge & freezing waters, then decided to just sit on the sand and just sit. Those were the days!
The World Is My Playground
From then on, no country was a foreign place. Everywhere felt like home to me and still does. The world is home. Being alone wasn’t lonely either. In fact, traveling solo gave me a freedom I never thought I would love. A legit excuse to be selfish, to only think of me, what I wanted to eat, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. The ultimate self-indulgence where your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting.
That said, the world taught me so much and so much more when it’s just me and her. I am a better traveler, one who can survive strange streets and people, one who is more attentive to and curious about her surroundings, culture and people. One who discerns danger and safe zones.
A Note For The Fearful Noob Solo Traveler
For the fearful noob solo traveler, don’t be pressured (by your ego or pride) to be adventurous. Go where you feel comfortable being uncomfortable. Go where you don’t have too many curveballs chucked at you at one time. Go someplace where there isn’t a language barrier and where the streets are generally safe, so you can let your guard down slightly and experience the freedom I talked so much about. You can even book yourself on a yoga retreat or revisit that country you went to a couple of years ago but this time, explore further than where you had been before.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else.
Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become a common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” ~ Wendell Berry