Tales of a True Wanderer: The Joys and Pains of Solo Travel

Categories Travel Thoughts

In 2011, I ventured to Bangkok on my own to tour the city’s attractions. I got lost in translation, mistaken to a Thai, entered some temples for free, almost victimized by the “jewelry store” scam yet still managed to see and enjoy the best of the Thai capital.

Bangkok
Alone in a temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

In 2012, I went alone to New Delhi and traveled by train and bus to cross the border of Nepal. I was stopped by a lot of touts at the train station, got scammed by a rickshaw driver, survived the cramped and crowded train ride, interrogated at the immigration border and had amazing experience in Lumbini and Kathmandu.

In 2013, I went on a ride from Bali to East Java to see the famed Kawa Ijen of Banyuwangi. I rented an ojek (motorbike) to take me to the jump-off, trekked to the crater lake alone, traveled to Surabaya by slow bus, missed my flight to Jakarta but the unparalleled beauty of Kawa Ijen was still the highlight of the trip.

Banyuwangi
I trekked the beautiful Kawa Ijen of Banyuwangi, Indonesia on my own in 2012.

In 2014, I went on a solo backpacking trip in Sri Lanka and Maldives. I traveled by train from Colombo to Anuradhapura, biked around the ancient city, explored Sigiriya, visited uninhabited island in the Maldives, went scuba diving in South Atoll and had the best times of my life in South Asia.

Maldives
Who says Maldives is only for honeymooners?

On the same year, I managed to reach the Annapurna Base Camp of Nepal alone and unguided. I trekked for six days and five nights, braved the extreme winter, survived altitude sickness, injured my knees and had my first ever White Christmas at the base camp.

Nepal
Successfully reached the base camp of Annapurna alone and unguided in December 2014.

I can go for more stories of my adventures and misadventures here in the Philippines and abroad, interesting stories that were made more exciting by the fact that I was traveling solo.

Needless to say, I love solo travel! While I enjoy traveling with a company, I also love the idea of wandering on my own. Not everyone may believe it but some of my closest friends will agree that I am really shy and quite a loner type of guy. And for a not so sociable person like me, my introvert side wanted to be solo at times. No dependency, no other people to think of when doing the out-of-the-box stuff, no issues to deal with, and no one to inconvenience with when doing the difficult and extraordinary. Only me, on my own itinerary and pacing.

For me, traveling solo also means I can travel on the most conservative budget, hold my hunger as much as I can, walk more and explore more. No one will stop me from doing what I think of doing. It’s a complete freedom!

Batanes
Solo ride in the scenic island of Batanes.

Don’t get me wrong though because I also go with a group or with a buddy and enjoy the idea of traveling with kindred people. It’s just that there are times that I prefer exploring on my own specially on places where I don’t know what to expect. I would rather go alone to the unknown than to drag my travel buddies to the agony of my misadventures.

Truth be told, to travel alone to a far and unfamiliar place is a challenge… exciting but totally risky and frightening. I also get afraid every time I venture on my own specially when out of the country. But once I’m on it and finally got the bearing, what follows is a realization that there’s something alluring about solo travel. There’s joy in it!

Batangas
A solo trek to Mount Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Isn’t it alluring to try a new dish, to converse with locals on a different language, to meet new friends out of strangers, to commute the way the locals do, to discover a hidden spot, to get lost somewhere, to spend hours walking on an empty trail or to talk to yourself? The surprises that come with it – be it a rewarding feat or a funny misadventure – are experiences that are worth cherishing.

But one of the most important things in going solo is you get to discover not only the destination but yourself, your limit… on what you can do and how far you can go. At the end of your journey, one thing is certain – you’ll be richer with friends, memories and experiences. You’re life will never be the same, you are never the same.

Sri Lanka
Going solo in the ancient city of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.

Traveling solo poses a risk but it is a risk worth taking for what’s at stake are life changing realizations and learnings. Because a solo traveler is a true wanderer, one who is always ready to embrace the fun and the pains of the life in the open road.

(Visited 42 times, 2 visits today)
Follow @thelakwatsero on Instagram:

Facebook Comments

15 thoughts on “Tales of a True Wanderer: The Joys and Pains of Solo Travel

  1. its nice doing it solo… im a rider here… misadventures are a pain but its just you who will take it.. and not bother others…

    ill try the Mindoro loop from manila in 24 hrs.. riding a scooter… well see what we will see

  2. I’m just wondering how were you able to take your own pics when you are travelling solo? Were you using a tripod or you ask someone to take a picture of you? Thanks for the answer. I’ll be having a solo trip to Batanes this coming October and this is one of my dilemma 😀

  3. I also love wandering solo, locally or abroad. I’ve explored China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia alone! rode my first sleeper train from Shanghai to Beijing alone, climbed the Great Wall on my one at my own pace, ran my first winter marathon in Seoul solo..etc! It’s a liberating and rewarding feeling when I complete a solo trip. Cheers!

  4. I first traveled alone in 2012 out of curiosity..but I loved it. Since then, it has become an annual ritual to go on a solo trip at least once every year.

    Great writeup and I agree with the introversion thing and being drawn towards solo travel 🙂

  5. hi!
    never tried solo travelling.. will try to do that this year.. i hope i will have the courage.. my only experience of solo travelling was going around the temples Bangkok for one day.. my friends when to Chachutak market to do more shopping.. i rode their train and transferred to the water taxi to reach the temples..it was hard to communicate since most Thai is not fluent in English but with a smile i asked local people where will i alight in order to get to the temple. i love the feeling of wandering on my own, getting lost, talking to myself and meet new friends.. hehehehe.. many thanks for sharing this.. =D

  6. This is quite impressive. The closest thing to travelling solo for me was a flight from the Philippines to the US. I’m comfortable exploring locally and even eating alone or watching a movie by myself, but to travel to a place I’ve never been to scares me a bit. I admire your bravery and adventurousness. I hope I’ll be able to take the same leap one of these days :).

    http://www.laneyatbp.com

  7. I am so impressed by your travels. I love traveling too but have yet to try full solo travel. I tried it before with a couple of local trips but I guess I’m not as brave as you are. ;D. Would love to see more of your future travels amigo. Gracias por compartir tus aventuras!

  8. Being a solo traveler gives you more freedom. Besides you’re also free from the inconvenience of tagging along friends who are not as adventurous as you when it comes to places and food.

    I agree that one can learn a lot from solo traveling. For me, when I need some clarity or something is bothering me or If I need to ponder on things about my life, I usually go to a new place.

    Angel, you’re so well-traveled man. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and learnings.

  9. will go on my first solotravel this coming June, reading your story made me more excited. Many thanks for sharing this 🙂

Comments are closed.