“SHOOT.” That was the first word that popped in my head when I received a Facebook message from my friend a few days ago. Not so long before this, she and I met up at a cafe to discuss our travel plans to South America at the end of this year. However, due to personal reasons (which I totally understand and I do not blame her for anything), she says that she has to cancel. Just like that, the truth dawns on me: I’ll be traveling alone.
First-ever solo travel
As someone who has ventured to a few different countries, I must admit that traveling alone is not really my forte (yet). Every big trip I had, even India, was with other people. The only times I had been traveling alone would be for short-2-day trips in a few different cities of Taiwan or Hong Kong. So, this is totally new for me as well, and I’m excited but terrified at the same time.
Traveling alone is a huge step for any traveler; at least it is for me. It means that I have to make decisions by myself, I have to rely on my instincts, and I have to take my own photos 90% of the time (oh dear!). There is a bunch of ‘what ifs’ crawling inside my head until this very moment; what if I get lost or get robbed? what if I end up lonely? what if I don’t like traveling alone?, the list goes on. I am going to leave my comfort zone, and that is scary. However, my flight is booked, and really there is no going back from that.
A lot of research for traveling alone
I understand that research is important before traveling alone. Traveling for 2-3 weeks isn’t anything like taking a weekend trip. Research and planning is crucial. I need to know my budget, and I have to research on accommodation, tours, transportation, etc. Learning from other travelers has proven to be useful for me; I read articles by Hey Nadine, Hopscotch the Globe, Nomadic Matt, etc. As a result, these bloggers gave me insight and confidence that traveling alone is not impossible. So, am I still afraid? Hell yeah, but I am also more determined.
The fear of being lonely
Loneliness is also one other thing that I worry about. I am a very active and talkative person, and even though I love some ‘me time’ and like to eat on my own, I still love to be around people too. So, I talked to my friend, who recently traveled alone to a few countries, and he told me that everything will be fine. He said that I will meet people who are traveling as well, people who are leaving their comfort zone to explore the world just like myself. I guess this does make sense, but that anxious feeling is still there.
In the end, I guess loneliness is a problem of mind over matter. Traveling alone does not mean that one is lonely. It just means that a traveler is brave enough to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world. It means that this traveler is opening themselves to strangers who are local in that certain area or strangers who are exploring the world and has a similar set of mind. Being lonely is merely a choice, just like everything else in life.
Right now, I don’t really know how things will turn out, but I know for sure that I do want to do this. And, by the way, I didn’t seem to actually mention where I am going, did I?
I’m heading to Ecuador.