I’m writing this blogpost from the airplane that will bring me to Bangkok. The capital of Thailand, the first place I ever saw in Asia (or outside Europe for that matter) and the start of my South-East Asian trip back in January. This is the third time I’m taking this journey and I am writing it because I’m flying solo (once more).
The question I get asked the most about traveling by yourself is, “Doesn’t it get lonely?”. To answer this question I would have to say yes and no. Traveling by yourself is not easy. Last December I was leaving behind a boyfriend, now I am leaving behind a past relationship. I’m leaving behind my family among whom a grandfather that is still feeding his chickens every day even though he has trouble walking. Friends that I got to catch up with but also some that I didn’t get the chance to see. I will be missing out on weddings of those beloved friends and even the chance to see a couple of babies that will come into the world soon. So yeah, it does get lonely at times.
-Walking along the beaches of Lombok-
But then why do it? Because it doesn’t get lonely. Even though the decision to go traveling long-term is not an easy one, you will gain so much out of this experience. When you will realize why you wanted to break out of daily routine, there are no boundaries to discovering our big world by yourself. With my most recent departure (that was yesterday) in mind, I wanted to sum up the best parts about solo travel, for myself and for those thinking of taking the leap.
– Braved Mount Ijen, Java, Indonesia-
1. You will experience what true independence means. You get to decide what you want to do today, for the next month or even for the rest of your life. It’s your movie and you’re the leading character.
2. You will figure out that everything, no matter how impossible or hard it seems, will work out in the end. Try being stuck with no money, no place to stay, no food and a taxi driver that you have to pay.
3. You will learn that everything happens for a reason, even the things that hurt so bad you will want to set up camp on your bathroom floor.
4. You will meet new people, new friends, people that have the most amazing stories or who will become lifelong friends.
– Part of the awesome group of people I got to know in Vietnam-
– The great group of people I got to know at diving paradise Mabul, Borneo-
5. You will learn how to make decisions. It feels crippling to arrive in a country where you know nothing and there are 1000 possible routes to take. You will be forced to choose and prioritize.
6. You will see things that are more beautiful than anything you’ve ever seen before. Alright this one if for travel in general whether it’s solo or not. But seeing that four meter black manta ray and sharing that experience with people you just met is pretty cool.
7. You will get to know yourself. Traveling involves several long bus rides or lonely beaches that give you the opportunity to think about what you find important (while traveling and back home), you will miss the people who really matter in your life and you will return with that extra little bit of inner peace.
8. You will acquire new skills. Bargaining down the price for a room? Approaching a stranger and consequently spending a week on the road together? Assessing whether or not you should or should not eat in that place where you just saw a rat? Meeting a local who doesn’t speak a word of English and joining him and his friends for a couple shot of rice wine? Not a problem!
9. You will meet people and kids that were born and raised in a completely different way than you. It will broaden your horizon and will make you realize that not everybody is wired in the same way. It will give you a little extra patience and the realization that not everybody perceives the same situation in the same manner as you do.
10. You will become less materialistic (this might sound weird coming from the girl with the fashion blog). The things you love will become even more valuable and the other stuff will become just … stuff. Sell the things you don’t care about, give them away to someone who needs it more and enjoy the extra space in your home and mind.
11. You will become more stress resistant. ‘What do you mean, there is no night bus? I have a plane to catch in the morning!’
12. You will figure out that the world is full of good and kind people (Ok and some less kind people). Your instinct will tell you who to trust and who not. But in the end you will notice that trusting people will lead to getting help from all directions. Yes, even when the noodle guy steals your RayBan’s (got them back within 24h –vuistje-).
-The Malaysian couple that took me from my night bus to the airport and showed me all around their hometown Kota Kinabalu-
– The motorbike, the best way to discover Asia, here Lombok, Indonesia-
So does it get lonely? Of course it does. Is it scary? Of course it is. Is it worth it? Hell yes it is. The hardest part is getting on that plane. If you start panicking anyway, call that girlfriend who is always there for you or even that ex-boyfriend you shouldn’t really be calling. Because as soon as that plane touches down, it’s the beginning of a new adventure.
-Looking for wildlife along the rivers in Sukau, Borneo-
– Walking the little stretch of desert in Mui Né, Vietnam-
– Gili Trawangan, Indonesia-
– Walking along with the sulfur miners on Mount Ijen, Java, Indonesia-
– Halong Bay, Vietnam-
– The limestone cliffs of Uluwatu, Bali-
– Looking at the emerald lake in the Phong Nha Caves, Vietnam-
– Hiking the rainforest around Ninh Binh, Vietnam-
– Lombok Beach-
– Daily yoga session in Canggu, Bali-
– Enjoying the crater of Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia-
– The rice paddies of Ubud, Bali-
– Standing on top of Mount Ijen on Java, Indonesia-
All photos were taken by either me or lovely temporary travel companions. The photos of Lombok appeared earlier on the blog of Yannick, Soms Ook Heimwee.