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The Perks and Downsides of Travelling Solo

July 31, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

Wandering alone in a foreign country may seem like a dream – after travelling to Vancouver without company, I’ve brought back a basket of thoughts towards travelling solo. So here are the joys and sorrows I’ve personally experienced overseas!

Perks

The Lack of Pressure

Ever followed those busy tourist groups to places around the world where all you do is follow a packed schedule with a controlled amount of time in every destination? Or even just your mother, who is just obsessed with visiting temples and you’re sick of that? Well, travelling solo is a whole different story. When you travel on your own, you get to personalize and plan your own schedule. You can choose to wake up whenever you want. Basically – your whole trip is guided by your own flow! The planning process not only increases your organizational skills, but it also inevitably elevates your eagerness for your trip – because who doesn’t want a rewarding journey after long hours of intense planning?

Independence and freedom

‘When we travel, we see just how big the world is and just how small we are’.

Traveling alone provokes new insight, where you are able to truly embrace the wonders of nature. I remember walking through the alleys of Burnaby Mountain with my backpack: weaving my way through the apple green trees, breathing the fresh air of the countryside and gazing at the picturesque landscape, a plain of lime grass with no skyscrapers in sight. Travelling solo is a form of escape from the confined expectations of society (especially coming from Hong Kong) – catalyzing the learning process everyone speaks of from travelling.

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The Ease of Meeting New People

When you go to different places, you meet different people – but, if you are travelling with a friend, it’s less likely that you will open up different people, because who doesn’t want to stay in their own comfort zone? Travelling solo encourages you to step out of your comfort zone. At my hostel, for example, I was lucky to meet a fellow journalist from Germany! The main advantage of being alone in a foreign place is that it opens you up to new opportunities- the opportunity of expanding your horizons and global vision, the opportunity of experiencing and understanding different cultures through meeting new people around the world.

Self Reflection and Exploration

When you travel solo, the responsibility of taking care of yourself inevitably increases as there’s nobody to watch your back. Besides teaching you to become more independent, travelling solo enables you to understand yourself, to discover your true passions that define who you really are. In the busy hometown of Hong Kong, it is difficult for one to diverge from societal and parental norms to discover the ‘real you’. But through experiencing extraordinary things that home has no access to really opens up your true self. What are your preferences? What are your hobbies? What is your dream job? Perhaps, travelling solo will give you the answers to all the above questions – shaping you into the person you truly want to be.

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Downsides

It’s Lonely.

When you’re travelling solo and you see groups of friends or families taking photos at famous tourist destinations, an intense wave of homesickness kicks in soon enough. It’ll be too embarrassing to ask a group of people to stop and help you take an individual portrait amongst the backdrop of a reputable attraction. It gets more difficult when you arrive back in your hotel room after a tiring day with no one to share your daily experiences with – even if you text your friend or family telling them how your day went, its just not the same, because they weren’t there to understand what you’re in awe of or ranting about.

Lack of Preparation and The Stress of Planning 

Planning is generally more effective when shared. The more people involved in the planning, the more efficient the planning process – the more information is available, the more organized the trip. When you’re planning a solo trip, all the planning stress is piled up on a stress mountain and its up to you, and only you, to work out and cater a suitable plan that can satisfy your needs and wants.

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 Stranger Danger!

I remember how I ended up at a “shady” hostel in a scary part of town, at least, according to the locals. Being a visitor, you’ll never know places well enough just by secondary research. There are no friends to look after you and take on the responsibility of guiding you to places, no parents to make sure you remembered your passport and have packed everything you need- there is no one except yourself to make sure you remain in one piece throughout your journey. There are times overseas where you feel insecure, as there is nobody to depend on, and so you have to be extra cautious – that might actually make your adventure less enjoyable.

Overall, travelling solo has both its advantages and drawbacks. However, after my personal experience I strongly believe that travelling solo is more rewarding than it is stressful – the journey of exploration enabled me to regain insight as to who I truly am. I definitely encourage all you self-seekers out there to embark on a solo travelling experience – step out of your comfort zone and embrace what the world has to offer!

Submitted by Faye Wai, Year Two Journalism Student at HKU



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