Six Lessons Learned From Solo Traveling

Steve Blank said that the best parenting advise he got was when someone told him that ‘your job is to teach her (his daughter) how to leave’.
I think my parents excel in that. I am blessed with parents who are open-minded, supportive, and trust me with life decisions. They don’t blink no matter what crazy things I told them I wanted to do. Well, thing like travelling alone seems crazy for an Asian family. ‘It’s dangerous!’, ‘You are a girl!’, ‘You don’t know the language’, and bla bla bla..
I finally did my first solo travelling in Nepal and man that was a heck of crazily fun journey that I’ve never expected!

#1 Loneliness Sucked in the Beginning

I started the journey doing Annapurma Circuit trek in a big group and we had 6 days of tribal life where the whole group trekked and did everything together.

The moment I bid farewell to the group, my world was suddenly drop dead silent. I remembered staring at the peak of faraway snowy mountain from the hotel balcony, feeling lonely and empty inside. There were so much going on in me and I can’t even tell anyone how I feel!
I just sat in the beautiful morning sunlight and let the feeling of loneliness spread. Then I told myself ‘Belle, you’ve gotta move’. Everything turned better the moment I stepped out.
Loneliness is just a mindset that can be turned around by willpower.

#2 Talking to Strangers doesn’t Kill
We don’t usually talk to strangers in daily life because we are afraid of being rejected, ignored, or sometimes we just cant’t be bothered.
Start with a smile.
I was amazed by the power of smiling while travelling. It is a universal language that breaks down barrier between people instantly and it makes my life so much easier in new places.
Talking to strangers is not about courage or to prove something to yourself. It is a life skill where you master communication, empathy, kindness and active listening.
I love talking to people for the stories behind them. Everyone has a story; and talking to people from different part of the globe and cultural background gave me the chance to explore many different dimensions of life.
I learn about subtle things in human behaviour, local culture, collective consciousness and so much more that you can’t find in ‘Lonely Planet’.

#3 You Learn to Trust and to Protect Yourself

From where I come from, security is always a societal issue. Growing up I was told not to talk to stranger and to mind your own business.
I needed a lot of help while travelling for things like bargaining for best hotel rate, looking for authentic local food, navigating my way in the city and so on.
I decided to put down the guard and believe in goodness in people when I asked for favour.
Sometimes I knew it when people tried to rip me off for my tourist status, but let it be. It is just part of the unspoken rule in the tourism ecosystem and it is not personal.
Maybe I am lucky, or maybe it’s the people in Nepal; everything turned out fine although I was told that I trust people too easily.
Trusting people is a conscious choice, and it is the fundamental of relationship building that we have forgotten.
The smile, interaction, and warmth I got from people around me meant a lot throughout the journey. It’s the bits and pieces of kindness that remind me of the beauty of lives.

#4 You Have Full Mastery of Your Life

Well, this is not the cliché ‘be who you want in life and live your passion’ thing, it is a golden opportunity for (rebellious) identity reinventing.
In this new place where nobody knows me, where I will only stay for a brief period; I can do whatever crazy or stupid things that I want and get away with it!
It doesn’t mean that I am going to do bad things or harm people, but I can step out of my comfort zone, make choices differently and see where it brings me.
Some days I just wandered on the street and let my instinct navigate me around, and I love this way of living.
Just try things that are not the usual ‘you’. If you are a clean freak, try street food for once; if you are an introvert, try talking a stranger everyday; if you are used to luxury travelling, try staying in a hostel to meet new people.
A lot of awesome experiences happened because I am willing to explore.

#5 The Taste of Holiday Fling

When you travel solo especially for a woman, people like talking to you.
I met a guy who picked me up when I was looking for a place to drink one night, and I took the chance to trust him and let him took the lead.
I ended up in a super cool reggae bar and a rock bar that night. We had a good time throughout my stay in Kathmandu.
Having a fling is exciting and fun, but you have to be smart to set your own boundary and to know that this is not for real. Love doesn’t happen in 5 days.
Enjoy the process, wish each other well, and move on with life.
I thought it was ‘that’ easy, but it took me a few days to get over it.

#6 That Feeling You Think You are Invincible

So I survived alone in a foreign land, where I don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language.
It felt great.
I started telling stories and sharing experiences, and my script got better and better each time. Every time I share my journey I learn something new about myself.
The experience is like wine that tastes better as it ages.
A part of me prides myself for solo travelling, but it matters because of the personal growth that I experienced from the journey. After seeing new people, new ways of living and listening to new stories, the map in my heart expanded.
I see things differently and it affects my life decisions.
I appreciate every single moment because I know how big the world is and how small my problems are.
Solo travelling may not be for everyone
But it is a journey of self discovery that you are gonna learn so much about yourself and the world. You will be amazed by the transformation in yourself when you ended the journey. I am extremely thankful for the amazing journey that I had, and I can’t wait for the next adventure now that I am hooked to the thrill of going solo.

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