Quirks of travelling solo
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone from back home – just under 2 months in fact. Tomorrow I take a flight from Koh Samui to Taiwan to visit family and friends, which will mark a temporary pause of my solo travels before continuing onto my year in Australia. As the saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun,” and it certainly has been the case.
When I first started out this adventure, I knew I had to mentally prepare myself to be on-the-go for an extended time without much assistance from people whom I can trust. You hear about all these tourist scams and travel horror stories that gives you an uneasy feeling, especially being in countries where English is broken at best (and often, totally different from what you said).
– Keep valuable belongings on you at all times, even while sleeping.
I’m not saying that these things aren’t possible. They are definitely risks and has happened before – or else how did it get passed on “from a friend of a friend of a friend?” But in all honesty, I think a little travel common sense and vigilance will go a long way. Especially when you’re travelling by yourself, you don’t have a second person that can tell you “that doesn’t look right.” Trust your instincts, and being a bit overly cautious never hurts (contrary to what I’ve said about choosing the scary thing over the comfortable thing… that’s a different topic).
Contrary to popular belief, SE Asia is actually quite a safe place to travel. And in particular, the local people of Cambodia and Laos are some of the nicest I’ve met.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel somewhere but you can’t find another buddy, fear not, your dream vacation isn’t doomed. Plan a trip for yourself, and it may turn out to be one of the most rewarding things you do – especially while you’re young.
Anyways, I digress (somewhat). Here are just some of the many positives for travelling by yourself:
1. Freedom to see/do whatever you want
2. You’re on your own budget
3. You meet new friends much faster
I’ve met some of the nicest travellers who would go out of their way to offer me accommodation and show me around their city if I ever visit. Not only do you have friends in your hometown, you now also have multiple guides and places to stay around the world. I met someone in Halong Bay which I spent a bit more time trying to help them take a properly lit photo, and he offered his contact information if I ever visit Malaysia. Another fellow Canadian has offered to contact their relatives in Australia and see if I can stay with them for a short period of time while I look for housing. How awesome is that? Similarly, I offered to show others around Vancouver if they ever visit :-)
Bottom line: you’re not alone. People see you by yourself and they’ll say hi. You introduce yourselves, and you could be best buds for the next little while. Remember to be as open and honest as you can be. No one is judging.
4. No more blame games
5. You learn a lot about yourself
Most importantly, you have lots of time to reflect. Whether is it what you want to do after travelling, your next destination, how you want to contribute in making a difference to this world, or write blogs like this :-P It’s your time.
There are definitely downsides – if you’re a foodie and want to try the local cuisine, you are limited to only a couple, if not just one dish a meal. You won’t be able to try and share different things on the menu (this can be counter-acted by what I said above about making friends ;-) ). Things generally cost higher, whether you’re taking a taxi to/from the airport by yourrself, taking private transportation for sightseeing, paying full price for private rooms (where dorms are not available), to losing the power of bargaining with taxi drivers and tour excursions. Finally, there are times when you really want to share how you feel at that moment with someone – how happy you are, disappointed, or just gossips in general?? Better remember those and tell stories later!
Almost two years ago, I remember reading and sharing an article about the “3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young“. Looking back at it today, it comes back to a full circle and is one of the things that has sparked my journey.
Even though I’m travelling solo, I’ve been encouraged by all my family and friends who’ve been super supportive, and to those of you that read my long posts :-P Remember: living vicariously through others who are travelling is nice, but experiencing is a whole different level.
I leave you with this: if travelling has always just been a dream for you – go out and travel, make mistakes. The world yours to explore.
“As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” – Zachary Scott