I hear the excuses. ” I won’t have anything to do there” or ” I’m a girl, it’s dangerous” or ” I’d just prefer to be with other people” or ” I just don’t think I can do it” or ” I’ll get bored” and the list of excuses can just drag on forever. If you think about it long enough, your mind can find a justification to commit to the easier path of inaction for anything. However, I’ve always believed that your mind is completely irrational when dealing with the emotion of fear and the key to action for anything is to simply take the leap and just do it.
Over the past five months, I’ve traveled to Chamonix, Paris, London, Santorini, Athens, Istanbul, Budapest totaling 23 days of solo travel. Traveling alone is a journey of self-discovery and peace of mind. It is what an adventure really is. When tackling a new city solo, you are the artist trying to make the day your masterpiece. By having this type of freedom, you build the day the way you want and you don’t need to work with anybody else’s schedule or make compromises on your desired activities. You are in total control of your own happiness and along the way, you really learn about your likes and dislikes. For example, I learned that I hate museums, touristy landmarks. Yeah, they’re cool places to take pictures at so I can show off to my friends how cool my life abroad is, but I never actually go to these type of places when I’m in California. I only try to go to these places because I feel an obligation to since I’m visiting the city. I prefer experiencing the everyday essence of a city. In Budapest, I went to the park and laid in the luscious grass for three hours reading my books while small spiders would crawl up my pants. In Athens, I sipped a nasty tasting greek coffee on the dirty streets and people watched while stray cats and dogs walk up to me patiently hoping that I drop a crumb of food on the ground where they hence to begin a battle to the death. In Paris, treating myself with a juicy, 40 euro, foie gras dinner with a glass of red wine to add a hint of alcoholic sourness to my meal. In London, renting a bike and biking to the Big Ben and London eye myself rather than hop on a tour bus. You really learn about these little differences in your taste and in the long scheme of things, they really mean everything.
In addition to “constructing your ideal day,” the people I’ve met on my trips are simply astonishing and and they completely blew my mind. When you are by yourself, you don’t feel like you have to act a certain way toward people. You are being simply…… you. I feel like thats how the world should be. We all want our friends to think we’re cool and we have this human desire for other people to like us. What I love about traveling solo, is that everybody you meet are real, genuine people who want to get to know you for who you are without any ulterior motive. In Chamonix, I met the french ” Heisenberg” who made millions off selling drugs ranging from cocaine, ecstacy, ketamine, marijuana etc. He was one of the 50 “top dogs” in France but he lost everything and was in Chamonix trying to turn his life around. In Istanbul, I spent a full day with a 31 year old Australian man where we talked about life and love over sheesha. He was engaged and it was the first time I really heard any deep insight behind this idea of love and marriage. In Santorini, I stayed with an elderly couple who were the epitome of kindness and selflessness. They cooked me a greek breakfast every morning, provided me free alcohol and a free night of extra stay. When I left they even got me a souvenir. I’m pretty sure they spent more money on me than I had actually paid. In Budapest, I met this cute Hungarian girl who wants to become a famous singer but the tradition of her Hungarian parents are holding her back from her dreams. I told her that when she becomes a famous singer one day, I’ll remember and be her number one fan. You simply cannot re-create these moments. These are the moments that are priceless and I will forever cherish. These are the moments that make life worth living.
I’ve always believed that in life, you are the one responsible for your own path. Everybody is on their journey to fulfill their personal destiny. I highly recommend The Alchemist as it talks about this idea of fulfilling this personal destiny and the journey along with it. People will come and go throughout your life but the only constant is your always with yourself. Would I be able to do all things I said up there if I traveled with people? Maybe and maybe not but It’s important to learn how to have fun by yourself. Traveling alone develops this type of self-appreciation for yourself and your roots. People are super interested in me because I’m this Asian kid who can speak perfect English that left the basking warm weather of California to venture into the “rain every other day” Holland. It’s hard to put into words my feelings and emotions I’ve had throughout my travels but hopefully I’ve done a good job. If not, the only thing you can do is to try a solo trip yourself 😉
Checkout some pictures from my solo travels!!
Beautiful Santorini Homes
Graffiti on the walls in Athens
Stray Dog in Istanbul
Boat tour in Istanbul
Picadilly Circus( London)
My Greek Family 🙂
Hyde Park( London)
Beautiful Santorini Sunset
View of Budapest