Why solo travel?
It’s always part of my bucket list to do a solo travel. Actually, I’ve scheduled it last November 2013 but due to Yolanda I chose to cancel my trip to Taiwan and I’d rather help in whatever capacity that I can through our office. Back then, my mother knew about my travel but I think mentioned to her that I’m going solo (confused… Haha).
Few weeks after, my mother passed away and felt like I don’t wanna do it again. Felt so stressed out and I just wanna forget some of the things that I want because I’m still mourning etc. etc…. Making lots of excuses for myself but deep inside of me tells me to pursue that goal.
Two months after, I saw a promo going to Taiwan and now I stepped out of my comfort zone again and told myself that I think I have to do this esp I want to breathe fresh air and new environment might give me some encouragement as well. I end up booking myself for 6 full days solo trip to Taiwan. No travel agency but a DIY itinerary. Thanks to trip advisor, air bnb, Google and to my friends who are also solo travelers who inspired me to continue this 1st ever solo trip.
Then my much awaited solo travel begins… Timely because I want to rediscover myself, re-align my heart towards God, be grateful of the creations of The Lord and appreciate life in spite of difficulties.
So why solo travel? Especially for a woman is it worth it? Is it safe? Is it worth the risk? What are the disadvantages? I’ll try to answer one by one (in my own capacity… haha).
1. It feels LIBERATING
Liberate means (from Merriam Webster):
> to free (someone or something) from being controlled by another person, group, etc.
> to give freedom or more freedom to (someone)
Yes! “Sometimes” it feels good not to be controlled by a group or a person esp when you’re on a vacay. You get to decide things on your own. What time will you wake up? Where are you going? What to eat? And what kind of transportation you’re going to take?
Well, if you get lost or if you woke up late there’s nobody to blame but yourself.:) you can walk slow or even rush just to see the sunset (like what I did in Taipei). Cowboy style or not? You get to decide alone. I think it takes courage (esp when there’s a language barrier) and maturity to decide esp when you’re in a foreign land.
This solo trip liberated me from being to hard on to myself. If I wasn’t able to do everything that I planned in my itinerary, I just let it go easily and resched it. I learned how to slow down and savor each moment by appreciating up to the smallest details of the place.
2. You still need to BE CAREFUL and WISE
Solo travel might get you so much excited but it requires you to be more careful and vigilant esp if you’re in a crowded place or maybe if your going far away from the city. Not to the extent of you being paranoid. Just enough for you to be proactive.
Don’t forget to have a soft copy of your visa, passport and id. You can also photocopy it. Bring an anti theft bag or pouch that will protect your cards and you can secure your passport as well.
If you’re going to visit a province, like when I visited Jinguashin, Jiufen, and Taichung it took me almost 2-3hrs away from Taipei. You need to check the schedule of buses and their trains to make sure that you’ll not miss any of it. I advise esp for the women to take the 3rd or the 2nd to the last schedule in case of any changes and for you to be safe as well. Not to leave after sunset so that you’ll avoid getting lost and most of the people doesn’t speak English.
3. Be FRIENDLY and POLITE
During my trip, I felt like that I can easily adopt to a certain culture. Tho, I still need more immersions just to confirm this. Haha
Being friendly is good but not to the extent of sharing your life. You still need to know your limitations as a tourist and always be reminded by our parent’s basic rule: “don’t talk to strangers” might help too. Always be polite in asking the locals some questions, where to go? What to ride? Where can I find this? Etc… It’s good that you learn their basic expressions and always smile to them.
I stayed in a hostel and what’s good about staying in a hostel is that you get to meet fellow nomads. Great cross cultural conversations, learning from each other’s trips, history of your beloved countries and they would even give you tips what are the best places to visit and how to go there (first hand experience).
Remember, you are an ambassador of your own country and you reflect what kind of country you’re living in. It might change their perspective about Filipinos as well.
4. Will make you more COURAGEOUS
This might be a real challenge for a faint hearted or for people who are dependent but I say, it’s really worth it. Doing solotravel, will make you more courageous and be more independent.
For sure, your first concern is, who will take my photos???? My ootd? And how can I bring all my bags? Etc… Haha Funny questions and for sure you thought of it too.
People can take a photo of you unless you ask them in a nice and friendly way. We say it in Filipino, “kapal ng mukha” haha. Don’t miss the chance of having your portrait in a nice view or maybe you can bring a tripod / go pro if you want. I brought my happy pod all throughout my trip and would also ask some tourists or locals to take my photo.
Eating some delicacies or food during their night market can be super fun. Since I’m not that adventurous about food, I chose not to eat their stinky tofu or other exotic food. Haha that I’m not courageous enough!;)
5. Be ready for a fun filled ADVENTURE
You can still have memorable adventures even if you’re on a solo trip. I will never forget when I went up the elephant mountain, it was so steep and took me around a thousand steps just to watch the sunset and the skyline of Taipei I’m the evening. It’s sooooo worth it even if I need to bring the stuff that I bought from IKEA with my backpack. Kinda heavy but it didn’t hinder me to do that one of a kind adventure. Such a magnificent view and time to seethe sunset. It was breathtaking!
Sipping a cup of coffee in Jiufen was a great experience too! You can see the overlooking view of the Pacific Ocean, clouds right in front of you, and mountains are so refreshing. All you can think of is, God thank you for this wonderful experience that I get to witness your creation.
Countless stories on how people approached me and talked to me in Mandarin because they thought that I’m also Taiwanese. Funny that I can get to disguise like them but after saying Nihao and Xiexie, they realized that I’m a tourist.:)
Solo travel can also reaffirm if you have a sense of direction. Well, you can try not to look at the map all the time and check if you’ll get off the right train station. When people give you directions, do you still remember it or not?:)
For me, it brought so much inspiration that Taiwan is one of the nicest places to visit in Asia esp for a first time solotravelers like me. Thanks to my friend who encouraged me to “launch” my first solo trip in Taiwan.;) no regrets! It inspired me to dream more about Philippines. I guess, the patriotic inside of me would always say, I hope we have this kind of bus or train system in our country, etc… They’re very systematic, simple, and efficient. I admire all their signages and information that they provided not only for the locals but to the tourists as well.
Solo travel will renew your perspective about traveling. Sometimes it’s also fun to be alone. Take note, “sometimes”… Haha It could give you a time to think, recharge, discover yourself more, make new friends, appreciate life and God even more.
So take that leap of faith and check it to your bucket list. At least, once in your life you can proudly say to yourself that you did something different. It’s worth the risk!;)