Typical. Just when you think you’ve bitten the bullet and set off on a solo-adventure to “find” yourself, you end up meeting some handsome German guy who sweeps you off your feet. I spent years looking for that guy in a bar only to have him encroach on designated, uninterrupted “me” time. On the whole, having a dashing foreigner pick me up over a bucket of booze at the full-moon party wasn’t all that bad, but to this day, I can’t watch “Good Morning Vietnam” (pause for a moment of reverence in memory of the late and great Robin Williams) without clenching my teeth and raising a shaky fist in the air with feigned annoyance. Here’s why.
The Happy (solo) Traveler
It all started in Bangkok. I had been traveling for a few weeks by that time, working my way up from Singapore and passing through Malaysia via Malacca, Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lampur and avoiding tourists like the plague. I had set out alone, created a map of where exactly I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, and was determined to stick to my guns. I rose with the sun and returned around dusk when it became less than ideal for me to wander around solo. Now, don’t get me wrong, I met some fabulous people along the way who were great for dining after dusk (hats off to Julia and Patricia, two of my favourite Germans of all-time); sharing a gondola ride up Penang hill (because 3 white people being stared at is way less awkward);or embarking on a chaotic adventure involving waterfalls, a crazy Russian, a couple of newlyweds and an island with no taxis. But honestly, on the whole, I absolutely loved the parts of my trip where I just wandered around alone for what seemed like hours, stopping to grab sugar cane juice in a bag from this hole in the wall or some pineapple tarts from that little bakery just around the corner. I was on a mission to take charge of my own life, making my own plans and doing so well, until… he came along. Continue reading “Why My Husband (Still) Owes Me a Trip To Vietnam”
Traveling with people you love is arguably the best way to go about it. Sharing the experience allows the excitement to live on for months or years after the actual trip and inserts a sense of timelessness into memories made over the course of a few days or weeks at most. Yet, despite the obvious advantages to traveling in the company of others, there is a heck of a lot to be said about traveling in the best company of all – yourself. Sure, it can be intimidating and it can be scary (in fact, if it’s your first time, it probably will be) but it is also the most empowering experience you will ever have. And the truth is, I miss it.
“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” Jean-Paul Satre
Years ago, I boarded a plane to Singapore with a one-way ticket and no idea of what would come next. I remember passing through security, seeing my dad fade into the group of people saying their farewells on the other side of the gate, and thinking: What the hell am I doing? I wasn’t a first-time traveler and I was use to spending months away from home, but this time it was different.
This time, I wasn’t heading towards anything specific like a 6-month exchange, or a volunteer trip overseas; this time, I was taking off to plant my feet somewhere they’d never been, without any notion of what I’d do once I finally arrived. I mean, I had a rough idea; I’d booked some of my flights before leaving, and sort of, kind of, planned to end up in London where I could stay with family and figure out my next move. I was shocked at the fear that swept over me as I boarded the plane, backpack in cargo and Frommer’s “Guide to South-East Asia” plunked solidly on my lap. Little did I know back then that that whirlwind trip would be the beginning of a love-affair I would quickly develop with solo travel.
5 Reasons You Will Fall In Love With Solo Travel
1. You will feel empowered: When you’re traveling by yourself, you have no choice but to dive headfirst into uncomfortable situations. Uncomfortable, not dangerous – they are very different and you have to be careful (particularly as a female traveler) to distinguish between the two. From linguistic barriers to directional mishaps, and plans gone array – when you’re away from home, anything can happen, and you have to be able to rely on yourself to find a solution. The best part? The moment you realize you can. After that, the world truly is yours to discover. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Travel Solo At Least Once In Their Life”
A stopover in a neat city en route to your final destination can be both a blessing and a pain in the butt, depending on how and who you’re traveling with. On the one hand, enjoying a pretzel in Frankfurt, taking a ride on the Singapore flyer, or visiting the Souk Market in Dubai before making a connection sounds pretty tempting. On the other hand, whether you’re traveling solo or with a large group, the last thing you want to do is lug around heavy carry-ons so you can snap a shot of the Eiffel Tower when you only have 6 hours to go until your next flight.
Solution? Try to find out whether or not the airport or train station is equipped with storage lockers or a left luggage service that allows you to pay a reasonable fee to stow away excess baggage while you trot around playing tourist. While some airports have discontinued the service due to security reasons, most connect to a railway station that offers lockers you can rent for either a flat fee or by the hour. Stop by the information desk upon arrival or navigate the airport website before take off. This allows you to plan accordingly and be ready for any adventure that might come your way. Happy Travels!