Picture for illustration purposes only.
PHOTO BY FAITH RUTH VILLANUEVA
THERE are a lot of reasons why people travel: to unwind, to relax, to spend time with families, to discover the world, etcetera.
I’ve been to a lot of places by my single, lonesome, individual self. People have constantly asked me why. Well, there’s really no straight and concise answer for that one. My reasons for traveling vary, depending on my mood, my aura, my emotional state, or even my budget.
There have been countless times when I just simply hit the road aimlessly, with nowhere to go, nothing in mind. Just simply to clear my head and relax. Sometimes, even the mere driving long distance can already calm my nerves, especially after a toxic day at work.
As with all aspects of life, there’s an upside and downside of doing solo travel. With that in perspective, allow me then to share what I’ve discovered when doing solo travel.
The downside is that you are by your lonesome self. You don’t get to have those amazing shots on your camera taken by someone else. If anything, most of your pictures will be selfie-styled. And of course, traveling alone is expensive. You don’t get to share cost when you book a room, when you rent a vehicle or motor transportation, or even when you eat a meal. For a shoestring traveller like me, that really hurts my pocket. And then, of course, you are less safer when you’re traveling alone.
However, with the downside also comes the positive aspect of solo travel. You get to gauge your strength and weaknesses better. You get to be more introspective, well, primarily because you will have less time for talking and more quiet time. You get to be more sensitive and aware of your surroundings. Your intuition kicks in by itself almost unconsciously, especially when you can sense danger.
Solo travel broadens your mind and you get to experience better different cultures and new experiences as you are outside your comfort zone. Best of all, you will discover that you can reach beyond your limitations and capabilities. Solo travel pushes you out of the zone of others’ expectations of you.
You will also discover that you get to be more friendly with strangers because you’ll be forced to have conversations unlike when you’re in a group you don’t make the effort to be friendly and reach out to others. And because of that, I’ve had the opportunity to be friends with fellow travellers from all around the world.
Even my Facebook friends’ list looks like the United Nations. Not only that, you get to be kinder with employees and staff of wherever you’re staying. There have even been times that I was offered a homestay by locals who I happen to meet along a certain journey. Of course, I do get the typical quizzical and amazed looks every now and then from people. After all, it’s not typical to meet an Asian girl, with only a backpack in tow, traveling by herself.
Solo travel is definitely not for everyone. But if you ask me, I highly recommend that you try it at least once in your life. As the saying goes, “When you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are”.
Faith Ruth Villanueva is a Laos-based teacher who loves music, art, sports and photography. When she’s not in the classroom, the shoestring budget traveler is out and about – checking places off-the-beaten track and travelling the world one continent at a time. Follow her on Facebook.
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