Last November, I traveled alone for the very first time. When I let others in on my solo travel, they were shocked, amazed, curious but most of the time, incredulous. I was met with various reactions from “Why didn’t you ask me to go with you?” Or, “May pinagdadaanan ka ba?” or the usual jeer, “Naks, soul searching!”, yes I heard it all.
At that time, traveling alone was a foreign a word to me as say, exploratory laparotomy. But I embarked on it, partly because yes, I was soul searching and yes, “May pinagdadaanan" But it is only recently that I realized that even if I were not undergoing a major event in my life, I have come to love the feeling of setting out on a journey alone.
After my solo travel in Iloilo and Guimaras, what followed were: a solo venture in Tagaytay and a solitary roadtrip up north. And it looks like I won't be stopping anytime soon. I still travel with friends and family because I want to see the world with people I care about, but traveling alone is special in its own way.
So, why did I choose to travel alone? It is just like why dogs lick their balls, it's because they can.
I used to think that traveling alone is selfish. It screams independence in many aspects - emotionally, financially, socially. Traveling alone is also snobbish - “Finally I can to go where ever I want, companions just drag me down!”
Ok I thought, I can be selfish. Sure I want to be independent and to travel anywhere in my own terms. Before my first solo travel I thought, maybe it’s similar to watching a movie alone. The only difference is with travel, is that a person is placed in a testier situation and milieu.
I realized that that comparison is a stretch! If traveling alone meant independence, then being independent comes with a price! First, I had no one to share my expenses with. Second, the pre-travel research is exhausting! It brought out the OC organizer in me! Prior to my first solo travel I was this lazy leisure traveler who wants things laid in front of me.I hated researching (past tense of course, haha). I don’t want to stress myself. Or maybe I am just scared shit of sitting alone as the bus whirrs by. I cannot sit still with a book because I am paranoid something bad might happen. Or I feel I just had to talk to a friend to share my boredom.
But, I discovered that traveling alone leaves this sweet, lasting satisfaction, this certain achievement that I can figure things out for myself.
Traveling alone also taught me to talk to locals. Without judgment. I didn't just talk, I listened. And I discovered first hand, how they perceive their world. Learning becomes a natural thing.
Looking back, I wished I embarked on solo travel early on. And having tried it, I can say that solo travel is everything it is cracked up to be. It can be scary at first because of the expenses, the boredom, the lonesome...
Traveling alone forced me to brave the unknown but moreover, traveling alone made me confront myself. You discover who you are and what you are made of. Traveling alone forces you to face the truth about yourself and about life, and the truth is often hard to accept. But as always, truth always sets you free.
The Pinoy Travel Bloggers group holds a monthly Blog Carnival, wherein participating bloggers write about a singular theme. Mechanics and archives are found in Sir Estan's Langyaw page here. For the month of April, we write about solo travel as hosted by Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering. This month's entries go here.