I wrote this post on solo travel at the end of my NZ working holiday – but because I’m one of those people who randomly jots things down and forgets/abandons it, this is emerging from the dust-laden archives today. Enjoy. Or not, live your life.
Ah, solo travel. Now, if you’ve met me, you will know that brave, I am not (I really just wanted to word the sentence that way, so please ignore how awkward it looks).
I’ve never really travelled completely on my own before, as I’ve always had a friend or relative waiting for me at my intended destination, so I had a safety net of someone to call if something went wrong.
And frankly, I’m the kind of person who attracts trouble when I’m by myself (I wish I could say that it’s because I’m a daring, adventurous soul, but it’s really one of those unfortunate things that happen because I’m a bit of an idiot), so the idea of solo travel scares me. A lot. To say I was freaking out (yes, at the idea of going to the oh-so-safe New Zealand) is a bit of an understatement.
Six months down the road and I’m happy to report that I’m still alive *throws confetti in the air* Nobody is more surprised than I am. Or maybe my mother. It’s a tie, really.
Solo Travel: The Good
The word “solo” is defined as being without a companion, and when you’re traveling somewhere new on your own, it forces you to make an effort. As introverted and socially awkward as you are, you’re going to (attempt to) make an effort to get to know people, and at the end of your time together, it’s going to be difficult to say goodbye to some of them.
Every decision you make is solely and wholly yours – where you’re going to go, how long you’re going to stay at a place. Sure, sometimes showing up somewhere solo may be awkward at first and you may even be tempted to skip out on things because you didn’t want to do something alone (hello, awkward activity attempts) but it really won’t be the end of the world (I say this in hindsight, of course).
With solo travel, you’ll come to realisation that the only person you can truly rely on all the time is yourself (SURPRISE!) – and then you’ll also discover that hey, perhaps you’re not as scatter-brained as you originally thought #SweetAs #TooMuch? 🙂
Solo Travel: The Bad(ish)
As nice as it is to travel at your own pace, on your own terms.. sometimes you just can’t escape loneliness.
Despite New Zealand being known for being “safe,” (or at least, safer than where I come from), it was hard to wrap my head around that fact. Is that weird? Things like talking to strangers on the street, hitchhiking, and keeping front doors unlocked honestly mind-boggle me a little (while there’s the safety aspect of it that’s different from my home country, there are also cultural differences that come into play here). Anyway, we’re taught to instinctively keep an eye out for anything and everything that could possibly go wrong.
While this does sound like a smart thing to do (bearing in mind that no matter where you are, you should ALWAYS be alert and mindful of what’s happening around you), sometimes it was to the point where I just couldn’t relax and have peace of mind.
During such moments, the idea of having a companion is really appealing – embarking on solo travel meant (for me, anyway) having to be completely alert and aware of what’s going on, no matter how “safe” the place is.. which gets tiring after awhile.
Solo Travel: The Questionable
I had completely forgotten about this, until I was talking to a friend about strange messages we’ve received (is that a weird thing to talk about? Probably?) Anyway, according to Google, a good way to prepare for upcoming trips is to connect with other travellers via the Lonely Planet forum, and.. well, you get interesting messages sometimes, like the one below which sounded fine(ish) until the end of it. I mean, who even knows.
The Bottom Line
Being out here on my own has taught and given me so much that I can never fully put it into words. There’s the fear and uncertainty of being away and flat out broke, but also the determination that pushes its way through the haze of all that.. mainly born from the absolute refusal to ask for help from people back home, and choosing (this is the main point here) to rely on yourself to make the most out of your own decisions, and living with the outcome, be it good or bad.
November 2017 Update: Well, that post ended rather abruptly and I think I started with a point which I fumbled around with and eventually lost altogether, but.. it is what is it I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯