I’ve been traveling alone for a while now (intermittently since 2009 and more so now) and I often get asked by people I meet how and why I travel by myself. The most recent query came from a woman from New Zealand whom I met in Hunter Valley, Australia.
The how part is easy. You just don’t take anyone with you (lol). Plus you bring a bit more cash with you since you don’t have anyone to share costs with.
The why part is a bit more layered.
First of, I’ve now reached a point in my life where it’s getting harder and harder to invite friends to random trips. There’s always a reason not to go, especially time and resources-wise. These days it’s all about weddings, babies, fiancees, car payments, mortgages, medical residencies, start-up businesses, etc.
These are all valid life choices and my friends have my full support. But I’m just not in the same mindset as they are right now and as I’m getting more and more financially capable through hard work, the craving to discover the world just grows stronger.
Secondly, there is something liberating about being in an unfamiliar place by yourself. Left alone, you find yourself being relieved of some old patterns, albeit temporarily. You’re not who you are back home. You’re not the version of ‘you’ your friends and family and workmates are used to. As you walk new streets, see new sights, and meet new people for however short a time, suddenly there’s an opportunity to witness a new mould of your personality being formed.
In places like Japan and South Korea where people generally don’t use much English, or even in short hiking trips where not much talking is done, there is also the relief of losing words. God, what an experience to not have to talk! To not have to worry about creating a verbal persona that would fit with the communication style of whomever you’re speaking to. I also enjoy looking at a billboard or a signpost by myself and just appreciating the shape of the letters, removed from whatever meaning they contain.
I could go on and on but you get my point.
Is traveling by yourself right for you? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe try it a couple of times in relatively safe destinations to find out. Perhaps you’ll be bored out of your mind and want to go back home asap. Or perhaps, as the case has been with me, it could be the start of a new high you can’t get enough of.
Photographs: Raydon L. Reyes