Exactly three years ago I boarded Zest Air’s first morning flight bound to Puerto Princesa. The trip was some sort of an escape and it was my first out of town trip alone.
I was 22 and I just got dumped. I had the trip planned months earlier but since we had a “falling out,” all plans were forgotten. That time I believed I was left with two options: a. wallow in sorrow some more or b. move on a.k.a. independence a.k.a solo trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Then one day I woke up thinking, “Heck, I’m still doing this.” I just knew I had to and within minutes, booked my flight. I’m flying to Puerto Princesa alone in less than 2 months time.
I had my mind occupied the day before my trip because I had to fly to Cebu for work. But as the day draws to a close I became restless. When I got back to Manila that night I even went out with friends for a few beers. Though I doubt they felt my presence because I was wrapped in my own little bubble. In my mind I was thinking over and over if I should go, asking myself if I can do it or am I even prepared for it (I was absolutely not). Do I have the courage to go out on my own? I doubted myself too much.
I stayed out so late that night I only had two hours to sleep and pack for my 4-day getaway from the city. Yes, I’ve found the courage. And yes, I packed only a few minutes before I left the house. (Up to this day, I believe, the alcohol helped me decide. LOL)
I did not expect that three years later these memories would still be so vivid in my mind. And most importantly, I had no idea then that the events that would follow and the lessons learned from it will leave its mark on me forever.
Travelling solo has changed me in a lot of positive ways and a few negative ones. But that’s another story. Since then, I have always encouraged my female friends to travel solo at least once in their lives. And by travelling solo, I don’t mean you simply ride a bus or plane and stay for a few days in a hotel or some posh resort. I mean go out there and be bold but not vulnerable.
But why do something that is so outside the norm? Something that would make others raise their brows in question? Why do something that would make others think you’re weird and lonely? Why do it when people constantly remind you of the cliche, “happiness is real when shared?”
You have to do it for you. To find yourself and lose it again so you could grow. And this is best done outside of your comfort zone.
My first solo travel only lasted 4 days but somehow it made me whole and everything I learned from the experience has been with me since.
Strengthen your self-relationship. Being alone out there makes you discover new things about yourself. When I arrived, I started exploring the city by myself, I walked unfamiliar roads heading nowhere and ate when I felt hungry. I was in a different place far from home and I felt I was not really present. I was scared or maybe hopeful is a better way to describe it. It took a while before reality hit me: I was alone, I chose this and at that time I had to make another choice- do I make the most out of it? or remain sad? I guess I made the right decision. Because life surprised me with my realization in the days that followed: I was happy, comfortable and at peace in my solitude.
Travelling solo humbles you. Meeting someone new, exposure to different culture, community or group apart from your own and simply witnessing the way of life of other people can be very humbling. The little things you take for granted may be the most important thing for another. Everytime I travel I am reminded that I am just a tiny speck in the universe. So what small thing can we do? Appreciate.
It makes you believe in what’s good. And there is always good in others. If you believe otherwise; there’s a good chance that travelling solo can prove you wrong. When you’re alone out there, people will look after you. You’d be surprised at strangers who are willing to help. Because you see, while it’s true that people can smell fear, people can also sense sincerity.
It trains you and builds you. Intuition and gut feel are your primary tools. Improve the set by developing a good head on your shoulders. Well-traveled people are smart mentally and emotionally. While on the road you should be ready because anything can happen, no matter how you plan, all can still fail. Your experiences on the road and how you respond to situations shape you.
Fuel your inspiration. Get inspired by the beauty of nature and people you interact with. On this particular trip, one tour guy told me: “we don’t live to earn money, we earn money to live.” He told me to stop worrying about expenses because he believes that as long as you act on doing something you love, money will chase you instead. He was a student and works as a tour guide on his free time. I knew he loved his city that much.
Another meaningful line from that trip was something I just overheard but remained in me since:
“the safest place is also the most dangerous place.”
Fear limits us in a way that we stay where we feel secured, unaware that while you feel safe, you rob yourself of the chance to grow.
Feel the fear but face it anyway. There’s nothing more liberating than that.
Have I persuaded you yet?
Read my Palawan entries here.