A disclaimer before anything else. I'm no longer a solo traveler as I found my other half while traveling and we prefer to travel as a couple now.
This write up was from my very first blog reinforest.wordpress.com from over 10 years ago.
Back then solo female traveling was unusual especially for Filipinos who like traveling as a group.
While I'm no longer a solo traveler, I wanted to re-publish this as I believe that this is still relevant especially for other ladies out there who's thinking of heading out on their own.
I hope this inspires you. I wrote this after my first solo trip to Legazpi and Donsol in the south of Luzon, Philippines. I also added my thoughts now in 2021.
Donsol, May 2009
I once heard someone insinuating that solo traveling is for losers. She even added that you have no one to share your laughter or worries with during the trip.
That really made me mad!
I was just about to embark on my first ever solo trip and this was the first feedback I got. But that did not stop me from going on solo and here are just some of the few good reasons for solo traveling especially for us, ladies:
1. Solo Traveling brings out the super girl in you.
I admit that the thought of taking the road alone or sleeping in an unfamiliar room alone scared me. Random thoughts of paranoia seems to be pushing me back from my plan with the coincidence of watching the news about tragedies and rape.
Just a week before my solo trip, I came across a program in CI (Crime Investigation channel) TV called “My Holiday Hostage Hell”, that wasn’t the show I should be watching!
Rather getting more apprehensive about my trip, I prepared and researched on precautionary rules and guides especially for women. I even bought two rubber stoppers for my door. I wasn’t able to buy a pepper spray and I’m not even sure if that’s allowed in carry on bags.
Other than the stuff in your bag, what’s more important is to be extra vigilant while on the road.
My first stop was at the tourism center and there was a guy outside persuading me to buy a tour package to get around Legazpi. I refused and then he offered a free ride to my first destination.
I initially thought he was a tricycle driver and there was a group that I’ll be joining for the ride. I realized that we were walking towards his tinted van and I’ll be the only passenger. What was more suspicious about this stranger is that he was offering the ride free of charge.
I insistently refused and just thanked him. I told him that I’m more comfortable taking the tricycle out of the airport. He may just be a generous guy, but I was a lone female traveling so it will be wiser to refuse such nice offers.
My reaction, Jan 2021: Maybe the guy was just trying to sell the tour package so he was giving a free ride as part of the sales tactics. Nonetheless, I'll still refuse the free ride in a tinted van with only me as the passenger... And why the h, was I watching Crime Investigation before a trip lol
2. You are pleasantly forced to immerse in the local community.
It’s not just the destination that gives us that cultural experience but more importantly it’s people.
When traveling with your buddy or with a group, it’s a given that you are out to spend time together and bond.
Consequently, you miss getting to know the locals.
Yes, there can be a few chit chats, like asking a local how to get around but that’s it.
Being alone, I am really forced to have real conversations with the locals. Immersion is the real cultural experience.
My reaction, Jan 2021: I still agree on this one. It's possible to immerse with locals even if you're traveling as a couple or a group but I found more opportunity and TIME to do this while I was traveling solo.
3. Solo Traveling expands your social network
Who said solo traveling is for loners? Of course not!
Well, you can opt to be on your own if you really want your “me-time”.
Since you’re with no one but you, fellow travelers and locals will notice that and most of the time they will initiate conversations.
And from there you’ll know who will be just your acquaintances and those who you will add on your Facebook.
On my 1st solo trip, I think I was only alone 20% of the time and that was only during bedtime.
There were so many encounters with locals, and fellow travelers. Staying at a homestay was also an advantage in meeting other like-minded travelers.
Most people renting in homestays are interested to meet new friends as well.
During dinner, I met two travelers who then tagged me along from the firefly watching that night until the whaleshark interaction the following day.
My reaction, Jan 2021: LOL on that Facebook reference. To be fair, FB was big during that time that you add friends. I now forget to even add people in FB because most travelers I meet are inactive there.
4. It gives you that sense of accountability and fulfillment.
You have no one to rely on but yourself, and at the same time no one to blame but yourself.
It was like a test of how far I can be with myself and still be happy.
They say that authentic happiness comes from within and not from people around you.
When people learned about this endeavor, I heard comments like “soul-searching ba yan?”.
Unintentionally, I have discovered some parts of myself that I will not be able to delve into when I’m at work or at home amidst the busy life.
On a far away place with only “me and I”, I was able to focus on things that I have neglected.
My reaction, Jan 2021: I want to hug my self from 10 years ago!
My Thoughts 10 Years Later...
I have traveled solo for most part of my adult life.
My most memorable experiences were those as a lone traveler. I, of course, love traveling with my partner now but the adventure of solo traveling is different.
It was in those times when I made strong connections with people I met, but also the times when I had to be more vigilant when a stranger tries to be overfriendly.
It's not better than group or couple travel, neither is group or couple travel better than solo traveling.
It's just a different experience which I did not because I had no choice (ie. being single) but because it was my choice.
I even traveled solo when I was in a previous relationship. Being in a relationship doesn't mean you can no longer travel solo.
If I had the opportunity, I will do it again.