The truth is out there. Solo traveling is not just a current trend, but is now part of a lifestyle for people who are in for adventures. People irk on the thought of doing this years back. Apparently, I was one of them. I was in the comfort zone of traveling in groups because of my fears of what could happen being in a foreign land. Until, a beautiful accident sparked me to go on solo trips once in a while.
Quick back story: My friend and I were suppose to go on a 5-day trip together to Singapore, from booking flights and accommodations to all the planning shenanigans. A week before our all important trip, something came up and then it sinked in a snap — I’m going to travel solo? Why? How? Adding to the shivers was my mom’s constant reminders of what’s going on around us. Surprisingly, my dad was the positive influencer who kept telling “Carla’s responsible enough what’s right or not, what’s safe or not. I’m sure she can pull this off.” I realized, “Well, why not? How about trying it?”. To cut the story for the time being, I survived from the trip which happened to be one of my most memorable experiences to date. When I get to share this to my friends and colleagues, two common questions come up — How do you pull it off? Why do you travel solo?
Why do you travel solo?
This question only became an open for discussion in recent years just because there have been a few trips that I’ve trekked on my own. Some even end up asking if I was technically alone. Worse, there are spitting opinions like “you might end up getting used to it” or “that’s a lonely kind of trip”. Ok, this ain’t a rant post so I’d better drill this objectively.
A lot of reasons could pop up on why people travel solo. Generally, my reasons could be the rationale of majority who do it.
When companions can’t go with you, why wait?
The normal procedure when we want to travel and book a flight, we check it with our family or friends if they can go with us (on the days and the destination we want to go to. But what if they can’t make it? Wait for the next plan. What if after a few months they say no again? Do you have to set it aside till somebody joins you? Good, if you end up getting one. If none, should you get depressed and stop the thought of traveling? Hayyyy…don’t piss yourself to break relationships and stop waiting.
Reality bites, priorities change thru time, situations and age. Let’s give our close folks the benefit of the doubt, whatever reasons they have for saying NO for now (or a few times). No offense to my peers, but of course, it sucks when they reject your offer (pag ayaw maraming dahilan). However, don’t let it be a hindrance for your travel goals. Solo traveling? SO BE IT…
The comfort of being out of your comfort zone
Most of our lives, 24/7, we are in the comfort or company of our loved ones and colleagues. Solo traveling can make a person see his capacity to be on his own in the very few times of his life. Well, you shouldn’t do this as a test only if you can live on your own. Otherwise, solo traveling might be taken out of context. Do it because you wanna get out temporarily of that comfort zone or security blanket (being with close folks) and still feel comfortable.
Growth thru solitude
Traveling in general can already make us learn a lot about ourselves and the world. However, solo traveling can lead us to self growth and self discovery. For the few times I traveled solo, I learned how to cope with the people and the environment, discovered awesome places not swarmed by tourists, and tried doing things beyond my capacity. On my solo trip in KL (Malaysia), I got really sick for two days. I struggled but I kept telling myself that I had to make the best out of this trip.
This leads me to answer this too… How do I do solo traveling? I’d better answer it in this format.
P-rep or P-lan
Just like how it’s being done in groups, you have to prepare or plan. The difference is there will be no other opinions, but yours alone. You can plan without considering others’ thoughts. You have to plan better than you’re with some folks. When I go with my friends, I let them decide. When it’s just me, I make sure to list the itinerary and decide well — the places, how to get there, which from those paths is safe to walk on at night. Best part is you can mix up or tweak them when you feel like doing it. Packing up stuff though has to be really done well to anticipate what you might need given you’re on your own.
Admittedly, solo travels have their cons or mishaps too. This is where your brain and skills will be put to the test — navigation skills, communication skills, selfie skills and more. Trust me, it won’t be a piece of cake. Some of the ways to survive it had to be learned the hard way. In my future posts very soon, I will give a few handy tips how just to lessen the scare.
A-dapt / (be)alert
Compared to being in groups, distribution of how to adapt to your surroundings will have to be on your shoulders. In my opinion, it doesn’t have to be considered a burden. Make it an opportunity instead to meet new people or to gain new experiences. Sometimes, commuting and asking for directions can be the start of stirring conversations. There were ironically a few times I was the one being asked of directions from foreign tourists. I don’t know if it’s because I dress up like locals or I’m just aware of the directions. Just be cautious of how you deal with people. Do some research of possible scams in that particular place and how to deal with it. Bottomline, choose your battles (battles talaga?!).
Even if I’m on solo travel, I make sure to keep the trip worthwhile. I squeeze in attending an event to meet new folks. I stay in hostels more than in hotels (depending on the location, again). You would even be surprised there are also solo travelers from others across the globe who are just like you.
Altogether, I do the collective term when I’m on a solo travel — PRAY…It matters cause God will always be with you, may it be on surpassing your entire trip or in the form of people who could turn into blessings. My friends who live in destinations I’ve gone to have helped me in surprising ways — kept me to stay in their place cause my flight got cancelled, helped me when I got sick. Strangers I met and gave very simple, small reasons to smile — a cafe manager gave me towel napkins to dry out when I came in their cafe wet from the rain, a fellow commuter who helped me carry my shopping bag in the bus, a fellow hostel customer who became my travel buddy for two days. Reminder, please practice being self reliant on travels. Again, they came to me as unexpected blessings. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen the way you wanted.
I don’t need to strongly convince cause there have been proofs already that solo traveling works. However, I have to be cut throat honest, it doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve known a few who told me they tried and shared their stories. That my friends is absolutely ok and I respect that. What’s important is you try at least once in your awesome life.
If I have made you go on second or a hundred thoughts to try it on your next flight booking, then my future practical travel hack posts would hopefully help you soon.
Ps. For those who are planning to travel soon but might be dazed with the planning stuff (budgets, bookings, itineraries), I’m whipping up something for you soon as part of my side hustle *ehemmm…kudos to Bro JPaul Hernandez (from The Feast Greenhills) for sharing thoughts on this* If interested, just drop a message thru my email or comment on this post. Salamat!