Lessons learned from my first solo travel experience.
Having an introverted personality, I’ve always preferred to stay at home and avoid human interaction. It’s not that I hate socializing, I just get tired easily of meaningless conversations.
Going out with friends or colleagues is also not my favorite activity. For me, staying at home is the best thing in the world.
I just watch Korean drama or anime, read a book (I’m a C.S. Lewis fan), drink a cup of hot Milo, and sleep. And that’s it. I’m happy. Playing with my nephews and nieces is a major adventure.
I’ll tell you a secret. Company team-building activities drain my energy. I never like it.
So anyway, how I got the idea of traveling solo is a complicated story. You can read a small fraction of that story on the About page. However, that’s not the entire story although it’s a short summary.
Let me proceed with how my first solo travel experience changed the way I see life. These are actually life lessons which may or may not resonate with you. But hopefully, this will inspire you and encourage you to travel.
1. Respect yourself a little more and open yourself to other people
Because of my introverted personality, I find it very difficult to express my disappointment, annoyance, and anger. This is especially true when I’m being treated unfairly. Low self-esteem also adds up to my dilemma.
If I tell the offending person that I’m angry, I’m afraid that it will be the end of our friendship. So I always choose to keep quiet and pretend that nothing’s wrong. But after my first solo trip, I was able to weigh things and I realized there’s no need to be scared that I’m going to lose friends.
If they don’t care about my feelings then it’s not worth it (I’m talking about just one person). There are 7 billion people on this planet and that means endless opportunities to meet people and build meaningful friendships. Why do I have to get stuck with someone who doesn’t respect my feelings?
2. Be financially literate and never stop upgrading your knowledge in this area
After my first solo trip, I really wanted to travel more. The question is, how am I going to fund my next trip? My retirement savings is so small and I never want to decrease it unless for a life-and-death situation. If anything, I’d like to add more money to my retirement fund instead of decreasing it.
So I started reading travel blogs and some bloggers are generous enough to share how they make money for their trips. They are very knowledgeable in financial management and they work hard to afford travel. Currently, I’m looking at several options. I’ll probably write a separate blog post for that. I’m still very new to this travel thing and I’m learning a lot.
3. Health comes first at all times no matter what
What’s the point of saving and earning more if I’d get sick and just spend the money for medicines and hospital bills? Lately, I forced myself to work more in the hopes of funding my travel obsession.
Now I’m having headaches because of stress. I’m still working part-time aside from my full-time job. But not to the extent that I’m killing myself already.
Another reason why we need to keep our health at its best condition is that we only have one body. And who wants to travel with a migraine, headache, toothache, or constipation? Besides, a Boracay trip is more appealing than a hospital trip. Hehe. So now I’m more careful about my health.
4. Love your mother and be more generous
While I was riding the bus from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, I was thinking about my mother. It was just a 3-day trip but I missed her terribly. My mom gave birth to me when she was 19 years old and she was only 38 or 39 years old the day I graduated college. She never had the opportunity to travel alone because her youth was spent raising me and my siblings.
My first travel experience taught me to love my mother more. She sacrificed so much. I’m not saying she’s pitiful. They had a different life back then when solo traveling was not yet invented. Anyway, I decided to increase my mom’s weekly allowance and as a result, I needed to decrease my personal expenses.
5. Reflect on the past and learn from it but don’t live there
There was no one to talk to when I traveled alone. A few and a short conversation with locals but that’s just it. Some people can’t believe that I was traveling alone in Palawan. They made me uncomfortable but the benefit is that I had a lot of time to think about my life.
At that time, I was obsessing about the past. It’s really difficult to explain so let’s just say that after my solo trip, I was forced to let go and embrace “now”. Forced is my term. When you are in a new and unfamiliar place, you will be forced to live in the moment and appreciate what’s in front of you (in a good way).