I have been on a few international solo trips in the past seven years, but they were not as impactful as the one-month trip I took last year when I turned 30. The difference was the purpose — I went on that trip to discover myself. With one purpose in mind and no plan for action, I learned so much more about myself in that one month than what I learned throughout the duration of my 20s. But, this realization only came after a year of introspection and reflection.
Having spoken to several people who embarked on such trips, I was expecting life to feel different upon my return. Not only from my broadened horizons as a result of an external worldview, but more so in my internal landscape. Maybe this was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” or maybe it came from the fact that I was turning 30 — I don’t know. But, that trip was a huge turning point — may be the tipping point of my life.
Few people are able to indulge in the luxury to take a long solo trip overseas due to family and financial commitments. People perceive the desire to travel to be a “want” and a “good-to-have.” but those who have done it will call it a “need” and a “must do” upon reflection. I hope you will consider adding this item to your your bucket list, no matter how young or old you are.
Life has funny twists and turns. I went on the trip in preparation for my solo round-the-world trip in 2016, and in the process, I met my boyfriend, who is also planning for his trip in 2017. This is another good reason for singles to try this.
In addition to wisdom, I gained energy, money, freedom and a more fabulous relationship with myself. It took a while for me to identify this, but the reason for such powerful improvement was the way I made decisions. This trip changed my thought processes and the way in which I made most decisions. The way I made basic, everyday decisions changed to a way that is true to my core being.
All of us do our best, but on what is this “best” definition based? Is it social standards or cultural norms? We need not compare ourselves with what others, like Richard Branson, are known to do, but we should strive to become the best versions of ourselves. In a foreign place, no one knows your background, what work you do or how much you make.
You are stripped of your work title, social class and cultural background. All you have left is you — the most authentic version of yourself you can be. Do you love the person you are at this point?
The best thing about a solo-discovery trip is not the big and glamorous stuff like visiting well-known sites or shopping. It is in the little details — seemingly insignificant things that can easily be overlooked. As Gary Smalley said, “life is relationships; the rest is just details.”
If I had to pinpoint the best part of Taiwan, it wouldn’t be the food and the best part of New Zealand wouldn’t be the landscape — it was always the people with whom I crossed paths. Many of people I met overseas did not become my friends or acquaintances — we were just strangers who happened to be at the same place at the same time, and yet, some of their impacts on my life far exceeded the short amount of time we spent together.
Whoever said that traveling solo presents lonely moments needs to resolve his or her self-esteem issues. There is no better way to build street smarts than walking alone in a foreign street. Having solo dinners at fine restaurants or sipping tea alone at crowded cafes can liberate oneself to a higher level of self-confidence — not the fake-it-until-you-make-it kind, but the kind that reflects that you genuinely enjoy your own company. The fear of unknown and uncertainty is always present. Test your limits, but stay safe and alive while doing it.
This experience is not so uncommon — in fact, it is actually way more common than you may think.
For the optimists, what are you waiting for?
For the pessimists, you will miss out more in life by not doing.
For the idealists, this is a dream and a way to design — or redesign — your lifestyle.
For the realists, you must try to know how good it is.
For the capitalists, business opportunities and networking experiences are out there waiting.
For the employees, you can add this experience to your already glowing CV.
For the non-conformists, this is definitely not the norm in life.
For the average Janes and Joes, it is a possible venture as long as you believe in yourself.
Photo via We Heart It