…a trip that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime
It has been 3 months of absence from this blog but I am not dumping this blog, I was actually on a backpacking trip through South East Asia — a trip that changes my view about life and also a trip that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime.
[In November 2015], I resigned from a manufacturing company, said goodbye to my cubicle where I spent most of my time at, and decided to take a long vacation mostly looking for peace and what my passion is. No solid backup plan on what I will do next but that will be another whole different story why I am taking the risk. Eight weeks gone pretty fast and I made it back learning more things that I could ever learned if I was to stuck at the same cubicle.
Things I Have Learned From Traveling Solo
1. Travel is inspirational
You are in a different country, culture are different, languages are different, and people are different too. There are times that I just want to sit down, pull out my laptop, and start writing because I do not want to miss any of those experiences.
2. It is easy to make friends along the way
The most common question received as I got back from the trip is “How can you make friends? How do you start the conversation?”. Well, there is no secret to this. As long as you keep your minds open, there will be times when conversation are needed, for example: asking direction, sharing travel journey, heading to the same destination, etc. Long before you know it, you will be in the spot of trading the stories about your hometowns (or your life) with some laughters here and there until you realize that you just made your new friend.
3. You can meet locals on a more personal level
It is true. I got a chance to meet at least one of the locals in each of the countries I visited. It is funny how a person that once we call a stranger can build a personal connection with you simply because you travel alone. When you are traveling alone, your mind is free to take interest on the people around you. I got the opportunity to meet locals who are more than happy to have simple lunch, motorbike ride, tour, and so on. Plus, the locals know where the hidden gems and cheap good food are, right?? Guess what, some of them are still in touch with me. 🙂
4. There is no boundary on what you want to do
I remember there was a day I have planned to do this and that. Unfortunately, mood changes every now and then and I realized that I am beyond lazy. I just wanna chill in the city and do nothing. So I did. When you travel solo, your itinerary is flexible. You go when you feel like you want to and you chill when you don’t feel like doing anything. This is your trip so you are the master of it.
5. You can visit the same place over and over again
No one gonna judge you. No one gonna mad at you. And I think no one will ever remember you visiting the same place over and over again. I did this when visiting Cambodia. Three days in a row visiting Angkor Wat in Angkor City and the view is still beyond beautiful.
6. You can be whoever you want to be
You don’t need to build a new persona before your trip, but again no one really knows who you are. Just be yourself! Be curious! Be adventurous! and don’t be a headache or burden when you have made some friends throughout your trip.
7. Facing you fears is not as scary as it seems
This is my first time doing solo backpacking trip visiting countries. Scary?? Heck yeah! I debated with myself that I almost scrapped out the idea of backpacking by myself until I realized that if I did not do it now, I do not know when I will have this kind of opportunity again (Like I have any plan….). So I landed in a new country, things got serious because I realized that I am by myself and the journey has started. But hey, there was another backpacker who patted my back and decided to share a taxi with me to the city. She gave me tons of good advices and said that I will be fine with the attitude I have. Isn’t that reassuring??? + did I just make my first friend??? So backpacking is not as scary as it sounds.
8. You learn that you are capable of taking care of yourself
You are by yourself. You need to make sure you have enough food to eat, enough clothes to wear, keep yourself healthy, keep your belongings safe, and also enjoy yourself. No one gonna worry about you when you travel alone because everyone is busy enjoying the joy of traveling. So always enjoy and be cautious. Follow your intuition! Honestly, this is not that hard and soon enough, you will realize that you are actually an adult now.
9. You learn that the relationship with yourself is so important
Being a solo traveller, you can not really depend on anyone. You are there by yourself. Realize that and you will understand the fact that you are the one who you can trust the most, Love yourself and trust yourself because at the end of the day, you are the one who is responsible of yourself.
10. You learn to manage your money
Every penny counts and you are responsible for it. You only have the amount of money you come with and there will be tons of exchanging money games and memorizing the world currencies (Rupiah, Baht, Kyat, Dong, Real,… and so on). With those conversion confusion, you are forced to acquire the skill of controlling your money flow.
11. You learn to be spontaneous in making decision
Plan might change. You might missed your flight, train, bus, or boat due to unexpected reasons. Think fast and find a different way to help you cope with it. Talk with strangers, ask for help, or just chill and enjoy because everything happens for a reason, right?
12. You learn to take a good selfie (with the landscape)
You are alone on top of the mountain and there is no one around but the view is too good to be true. Sharpen your selfie skill because I realize that taking selfie is not just a simple click. Even if you don’t want the world to see it, just take a photo with the places you visited. Who knows someone is doubting your travel adventure.
13. You learn to be a good listener
Everyone grows up differently and each of us has our own stories that makes us who we are today. With those differences, keep your ears open and listen to a whole different story from other people. Some people might share about their culture, the history of a specific place, or even their lives. You will be amazed that not all of the people are meant to work 8-5 Monday to Friday. Also, you will be surprised with some “leap of faith” stories that people shared.
14. You are not the only one alone
Obviously true but still the question of “being alone means lonely” always come to me. No No No! When you travel alone, you actually gonna meet tons of solo travelers from every corner of the world. Just start a conversation and you never know if the person will be your travel buddy.
15. You learn different languages
I like to prioritize myself in mastering how to say “hello” and “goodbye” in any countries I’ve visited. Once I got that spoken as similar as the locals then I started learning the daily used phrases. You might never mastered the language but at least you also trained your body language, right?
16. You learn who you are
On top of all, traveling alone can really mean that you learn who you are. You never know how capable you are until you did it yourself. But really, if you can travel alone, you can do more than what you could ever imagined. You are strong, courageous, and independent. Though you might not feel it when you travel, especially with those confusion and self finding, you will later realize that you are actually planting a root inside yourself.
17. You are blessed
Despite the fact that the trip turned out good or bad, in my case is super good, you will feel blessed for what you have done. Not all of the people have the chance to do what solo travelers do. And not many people are brave enough to do it alone even if they have the opportunity to. Be grateful for what you have.
18. You are looking forward to the next trip
Almost all of the buddies that I met throughout my trip were not first time solo travelers. When I asked them about their experiences, they would share all the goods and the terrible experience they had encountered. At that time, I was wondering if the terrible experience occurred, why do they still want to go traveling solo? Since I am back, I can really understand and relate to their feeling that drove them to do more solo travel. Despite all the good or bad experiences, you will definitely learn so much that you will not exchange it for anything. It is challenging but the rewards are definitely worth it. And just like them, I am looking forward to many more adventure ahead of me.