Saying You’re Traveling Alone

I love traveling alone because I don;t have to share my food! Muhaha!!

If you’re a veteran, solo traveler like me then you’re used to the barrage of questions you receive when you tell someone you will be traveling… ALONE (insert gasps of horror, shock, and awe here)!!!! I found that typically the conversation goes  something like this.

Me: “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I’m going to Greece in May. I’m super excited. Everyone says it’s AMAZING there.”

Anonymous Friend: “You’re going away again? I don’t know how you can afford it. You’re so lucky you get to travel so much. Who are you going with and for how long?”

Me: “I’m going with myself. And for like 10 days. It’ll be nice to have a break from work and life for a little while. You know?”

Anonymous Friend: “Wait. Back it up a minute.  You’re going ALONE? Like How? Why?”

End scene.

Now, reactions may vary depending on how well someone knows me (Geez. I sound like a prescription drug advertisement. And if you know me well then you’re never shocked because I travel alone all the time). But when it’s time for the “big reveal”, I typically get 8 different responses. The wording of these reactions may vary, but the sentiment is usually the same. So, here are the  statements that you will probably encounter when you announce that you are traveling alone.

1.”You’re gonna get sold into the SEX SLAVE TRADE! Mark my words.” (The concerned parent)

That’s the face my dad had when I told him that I was moving to South Korea alone.

No joke, this is the EXACT response that I got from my father when I told him that I was teaching English in South Korea for a year. This type of reaction comes from the relatives and friends who love us so much that they are terrified that as soon as we set foot on foreign soil, we are going to get mauled by an angry mob of ravenous men, dripping with intense carnal desires.

Yes the world can be a dangerous place button reality, horrible things can happen anywhere I go (Optimistic attitude right? LoL). I simply refuse to hide from life and cater to this innate fear of the unknown.  Because if I do, then the words “what if?” will haunt me for the rest of my life.  I would also miss out on all the beautiful people and experiences that make life worth living. Instead, I do my research, take proper precautions, and try to be as safe as possible while still living a life that I truly love.

2. “Wow! I wish I could go with you!” (The envious friend)

I have this one friend who always wishes she could come with me. Somehow though, work, finances, and jobs always seem to get in the way of her travel plans. But for me, it’s pretty simple. I make the time and money for the things I love, and travel happens to be one of those things. I honestly don’t mind skipping dinner out or leaving that Gucci bag at the mall, as long as I get to do what I love as often as possible.

Sometimes all you can do is have fun and try and make friends along the way.

Plus, I don’t overthink it and “just do it. (at least that’s what Nike told me to do)” Because the more I think about a trip, the more I think myself out of it. I’ll get consumed with the expense of the trip and begin to doubt if I should even go. In reality, I make good money and can afford it. I also never know what challenges life may bring my way, so I travel when I can and embrace living in the now.

3. “You’re so brave!” (The timid friend who stays within their comfort zone)

This one is always nice to hear, but feels like such an unwarranted compliment. To me, true bravery is found in those people who risk their lives to help others. All I do is book a plane ticket and travel somewhere on my own. Yes, I understand that this does require letting go of the fear of the unknown, but that is easy when you love travel as much as I do. To me, finding someone to travel with isn’t even a consideration. I just book the ticket and go because if I waited for other people, I would wait myself into doing a whole lot of nothing.

4. “But won’t you get lonely?” (The friend who always has to be around people)

This one cracks me up. I’m human, so of course I get lonely. But the reality is, loneliness has never killed anyone. Plus, traveling alone has taught me more about myself than anything else. Because of solo travel,  I understand who I am, what I want, and who I want in my life; things I never would have learned if I continually surrounded myself with people. I did that for a long time because I was too scared to meet the real me. Then I actually traveled alone and understood that to be truly and deeply happy, all I have to do is stay true to myself. But the real me does get lonely sometimes, and I think that’s pretty okay.

5. “But what if something bad happens? What will you do?” (The pessimist)

My face when something bad happens.

This one can be scary if nothing awful has ever happened to you while  traveling alone. But lucky me, I have had my wallet and luggage stollen, food poisoning, been harassed by men, and even had an ATM swallow all my cash. All this happened while I was alone, and somehow, I survived it all. Sure, there were tears and a whole lot of anxiety along the way. But in the end, I figured it out because we are much more capable than we think. Would it have been comforting to have someone with me (especially when you lose your money and haven cash)? Absolutely!! But the more I accomplish on my own, the more self-esteem and self-worth I create. Something that  is pretty awesome when you stop to think about it. However, I sometimes do want to sarcastically reply, “I don’t know. I guess I’ll just rock back and forth, while curled up in the fetal position and sucking my thumb. Then I’ll continually mutter, ‘make it stop’ to help ease the pain.”

6. “Just be Careful.” (The calmer parent who freaks out but in a more subtle way)

This is so snarky, but I always want to respond, “Nope. I’m gonna be really reckless and go to the sleaziest part of town, do some drugs, sleep with random strangers and who knows, if I’m lucky I may just come back pregnant. And as a bonus, we can play ‘Guess Who’ to try and figure out who the baby’s daddy is. Or even better, we can go on Maury and have him say, “Trang Pak, you are the father!”  Of course I’ll be careful! Contrary to popular belief, I am not traveling alone to torture you. I travel alone to enjoy life, not to become a cast member on Locked Up Abroad. We’re on the same page because safety is my primary concern too.

7. “I could never do that.” (The timid friend would say this too)

I firmly believe that this is not true. You may have self-doubt that makes this statement feel true, but that all stems from fear. In reality, if you believe in yourself and let go of the fears that are holding you back, you can do almost anything. I bet you could even do way more than travel alone. Just have faith in yourself and believe that anything is possible.

8. “How do you have fun? Like, all alone?” (The skeptic)

This response makes me feel like I have to “sell” traveling alone. Inevitably, I try and defend my love of
solo travel and extoll the virtues and freedoms that traveling alone affords me. But then I realize that it doesn’t matter what other people think. What’s important is that I do what I love and if other people don’t understand it, that’s okay. But sometimes, I really want to shake people and say, “You have no idea what you’re missing!” Then I remember that everyone has their own life journey and we are all just trying to figure out, each and every single day.

Final Thought (Jerry Springer anyone?)

When you inform someone of your plans to travel alone, you may get an assortment of positive and negative responses alike. Just remember that in the end, as long as you’re happy and kind to others, the rest of it doesn’t really matter. Besides, the people who love you will only want the best for you and will support you in anything that brings you joy.