The Dark Side of Traveling Solo
I recently wrote a blog post about all the amazing reasons why traveling solo is the best thing ever. But for every good thing, there are also not-so-good things.
When I first embarked on my solo journey through SE Asia, everything was great! Brand new environment, an itch to see everything and do everything, the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You meet cool people, you meet not-so-cool people. Sometimes you’re in a full house, and sometimes you get to the hostel and you’re the only one there (smh, I hate when that happens). Sometimes a destination is nice to be alone and have solitude, but other times it would so much more special to share that experience with someone.
Traveling solo for an extended amount of time brings on a mix of emotions that I never knew existed. There’s the happy, fun, wild nights. But then there’s the super dark and lonely nights where all you want is the comforts of back home. A bathroom with toilet paper, western food to chose from, someone to talk to and go to the night market with. Not just anyone though, someone familiar. A friend, a cousin, a sister. Maybe it’s the desire to have a comfortable environment that feels like home. A simple laid back netflix and chill binge week in a room with good natural lighting and not a dark dorm room where you have to wear earplugs so you don’t disturb the girl sleeping five feet away from you.
Being solo makes you realize how important deep relationships are. With your parents, with your family, with your true friends. Who sees the fun and exciting stuff? Pretty much everyone because you’ve probably posted all about it on social media. But who knows about the emotional breakdown you had three months in? Or the struggle you went through after getting screwed over by a fuckboy? The other day I was meditating in a rice field, when I received a video chat from one of my cousins. At first I thought, this is random? It must be a butt call? I answered and we chatted for nearly an hour. We hadn’t had a real conversation like that in ages! It was soooo nice. That’s when I realized that human connection has become nearly obsolete. A real, live, genuine, & personal interaction has been replaced with likes and comments here and there. It’s just not the same. Times like this and chats like that really remind you who and what is important in life.
Being away for so long also means you’re missing out on things that are happening back home. A wedding, a 21st birthday, the birth of your third niece, family gathering, the NBA Finals (HA!). Mix it all together and it makes you want to jump on a plane and go home. Then why didn’t I just do that? I’m in beautiful Bali, a place I only dreamed about visiting. Now I’m here and I want to go home? That doesn’t make sense. If I went home earlier than planned, I would only regret it. Letting emotions get the best of me. One of my besties once told me, “I know you’re missing home, but try to soak in as much as you can.” I think about that everyday since. She was right. I learned so much about mindfulness at my meditation retreat and this was a prime example to put it into practice. I’ve waited and planned for my trip for so long. Now that I’m in the middle of it and actually experiencing it, I knew I needed to just let the emotions come and go and appreciate where I am and everything I am able to see and do.
When two of my bestests of friends and my sister said they would be coming to visit me at month two (Danielle), month five (Lyka), and month six (Marlene) of my trip, I was/am sooooo excited!!!! It was the bestests of times. Not just going out and exploring things, but plain and simple: their company. The conversations we had, the memories we shared, the simple human connection. I missed it so much. (Thank you for planning to visit me, it means more to me than you’ll ever know).
Point is, traveling solo for an extended amount of time gets lonely. It’s a type of lonely that you will never truly know until you’re halfway across the world from anyone and anything familiar. Even with the lowest of lows, I wouldn’t change a thing. The expansion of emotion that I've felt has allowed me to grow. I’ve learned so much about myself, direction in life, and the importance of strong and healthy relationships. Anyone reading that is thinking about embarking on their own solo trip, I hope this doesn’t scare you. I hope it encourages you to get out there and discover it for yourself. Keep a support team to reach out to when times get tough and know they are always there cheering you on. XOXO MEL