I was the type of person who wants to explore but is too scared to do it on my own. I was the type who had to wait for others to invite me before I could get anywhere. I was that one person who is resigned to sit in my little bubble, safe and sound inside my comfort zone. Until one day I woke up and realized that by allowing my fear, I have doomed myself to a life of boredom and limited possibilities.
I have always traveled with friends or family and never imagined myself traveling solo. I was scared. I don’t have a sense of direction and I don’t know how to budget. Heck, I don’t even know how to pack much more organize a trip in a place I have never been to before. So many questions were running in my mind. Foremost question was, can I actually do this? I was ready to give up.
The day I decided that I will not let my fears get in the way of my dreams is the day I learned what being free really means. I have learned a lot in this few years that I have been traveling on my own. It still scares me, especially if I have my friends with me because I feel responsible for them, but I have now learned to be brave and face the uncertainties that are waiting for me.
I would say that I have changed a lot. In terms of perspective and in terms of how I deal with things. I have learned so much more, like…
When you travel, you meet different people from different cultures and diffierent walks of life and the exposure helps you see life in a different perspective. If you only face the same type of people for the rest of your life, you get a one-sided view of things. When you meet people with different backgrounds, you see and learn different things as well. No matter how short your exposure is, you don’t leave without learning anything. You become more accepting and more tolerant to people’s eccentricities. You see the world differently and you realize that there is more out there than your little bubble.
You think you are independent because you have a job and you pay your own bills but you’ll never know what real independence is until you learn to travel on your own. Outside of your comfort zone, life can be difficult. Can you survive? That is the question I always ask myself. You learn to find ways on your own without relying on your friends to bail you out. You learn to stand up for yourself more than you ever would if you stayed within your bubble.
¤ Socializing and Networking
This may not make sense to people especially to those who has no problem mingling with people. For some, socializing is a normal, day to day thing. For a socially awkward introvert, this is a challenge. But when I started traveling alone I became more confident in dealing with people.
Being socially awkward, I tend to say or do the wrong things 99% of the time. Being an introvert, I prefer not to be with people (especially those I hardly know) 99% of the time because it is when I try to be the world’s idea of normal that I become even more awkward.
Traveling alone, I learned to go out of my way and make friends. I learned to talk to people (remaining cautious) without sounding like a total dumberella. I learned to smile at strangers without looking like a weirdo. I am still socially awkward and introverted but at least these days, I can now join a conversation without feeling like a penguin in a desert.
¤ Enjoy without compromising safety
Like I’ve said, I now talk to people and even strangers. This doesn’t mean however that I just approach anyone.
Traveling alone taught me to be more discerning especially when dealing with people. I never let my guard down but I also don’t let my almost-paranoia ruin my travels. Being alone in a place where I do not know anyone, my safety is my concern. I observe things, pay attention to details, and always on the alert.
I used to be the type who doesn’t care what happens to the world around me. I don’t pay attention and almost always gets lost in the process. I still get lost these days but not so much anymore.
¤ Be more assertive
I admit, I am not really the assertive kind of person. I prefer to go with the flow and just let people decide because I find it stressful to argue with anyone. When I started to travel alone, I learned to be assertive. I can’t be meek and pitiful when someone is trying to get my seat. I can’t just give way when I know that the other person is actually trying to take advantage of me.
I have to be more assertive in fending off creeps and weirdos who loves to prey on girls traveling alone. I have to be assertive when I encounter perverts who will do anything to harass you only becase you are a girl who is traveling alone.
¤ Resourcefulness, Flexibility
When you travel, you are bound to meet glitches along the way. No matter how carefully you planned your itinerary, something is bound to happen. For me, this taught me to always anticipate possibilities and be prepared at all times.
Whether you travel solo or in a group, you have to learn to be resourceful and take initiatives. When you are traveling solo and something happens, you need to think fast and find a solution. Flight cancelled? Too late to catch the last bus to your destination? Stranded in the middle of nowhere? Whatever problem comes your way, you have to be prepared to resolve it.
This is why i always research my destination before I go. I want to make sure that if worst comes to worst, I will know the way home.
¤ Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.
Perhaps one of the most important things I learned in life. I used to think it would be so sad to travel alone. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to walk around, taking photos of yourself, eating alone surrounded by hordes of tourists who are often in a group. I used to imagine it would be even more awkward to sit alone in a corner while the rest of the crowd are happily enjoying their time with their families or friends.
When I started traveling alone, I realized that it is actually fun to travel solo. You have more freedom and more time for yourself. You appreciate more the places you go to because you don’t have people badgering you take their photos or to pose for them. You just sit and enjoy the view.
I think everyone should travel, it teaches you to be matured and responsible. Traveling opens our mind to a whole new perspective and teaches us more about people and culture than what we see in movies or read in books. Traveling gives us valuable lessons in life that changes us forever. It changes the way we see things and the way we deal with people.
So if you want to explore, go out and exlore. Don’t wait for others to drag you out of your shell. Take the initiative and see the world for yourself. It will be scary but you will see so many beautiful things and will meet so many wonderful people along the way. Go ahead! Make your own path! Stop hesitating, you have a world to explore.
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*I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors. Proofreading via mobile is a challenge for me.*