What I learned through international solo travel
Flashback to September 2017. I had just finished touring Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore with my MBA program and was setting off on my first international solo trip. I was nervous while preparing for the trip, but after spending two weeks with 40 people, I was ready for some alone time.
Here are some of the notes I jotted down while on I was SOLO IN BALI:
Silence – Since I am quite the talker, I really noticed the silence that came when traveling alone. It just becomes you and your thoughts, so be mentally prepared to embrace where your mind wanders to. Slowness and stillness are two other words that come to mind. Time moves so slowly when you are eating dinner alone, but it affords you this amazing opportunity to get to know who you really are.
Open – When you are traveling alone, you have to be open to a multitude of things. I found these to include being open to failure, to meeting people, to paying more (a few activities were cheaper if you had two people), to getting lost, and to seeing a new side of yourself.
Look / listen – Take it all in! Without a travel partner, you will be much more able to really see and hear all the city has to offer. It definitely was a little quiet at times, but it was interesting to see where my mind would wander.
Observe – Since you are alone, you need to watch your own back. Be observant of what is going on around you. Know your directions (I like downloading where I will be on my Google Maps Offline Areas), get your bearings, and carry your hotel name in the language of the city on you at all times.
Immersive – Since you can walk down a street and take it all in, instead of being semi-distracted by a travel partner, it becomes a much more immersive experience. I felt extremely present and think I got a better feel for the city.
Nature – Surround yourself with it, especially on a beautiful island like Bali. I find that I always feel comfortable being alone in nature, as it is a great place to just be.
Brave – Traveling alone can be scary. It is up to you to navigate yourself and make smart decisions. It is a great way to test and build up your bravery.
Always Bring A Book – Some times it is nice to take a break from people watching during dinner and dive into a good book. I mean, a book always is always good company.
Lonely – While it is extremely easy to make friends (you are more likely to get greeted if you are solo), it is not the same as sharing your experiences with people you love.
Intuition – Listen to your gut, as it is often your best guide. Know when to be trusting and when to be skeptical of the people you meet along the way. A good rule of thumb is to always be “meeting up with a friend.”
The planning is the hardest part about traveling solo (or any travel). I found that if I had a map, knew how to get to and from the airport, and had a comfortable pair of shoes on I was ready for anything thrown my way.
Ultimately, solo travel is extremely fulfilling. You can prove to yourself that, yes, you can do it. I left Bali feeling more confident and capable. But solo traveling isn’t as rewarding as I thought it would be. I love to share my experiences with people — I started a blog to share my life with all of you! I prefer to make memories with someone, instead of just making memories. There is nothing like reminiscing with a loved one able that “one time in Bali when…”
Have you ever traveled solo internationally? If not, is it something you want to try? Let us know below.