I set off to China for over two months, never having left Europe and never having been on a plane alone before. The first month and a half wasn’t too daunting as a lot of the time there was a group of us and I had re- assurance from the company I traveled with that there would always be someone to talk to and help me. However, the last part of my adventure I did completely alone, from booking the flights and hostels, to getting there, to leaving again.
I met people in hostels who looked at me like I was crazy to do this at 19, especially in China- it isn’t often the first place people choose to go especially alone for the first time. Yet, I cannot express how completely unreal and better than anything else I have ever done traveling alone really is.
I was absolutely terrified, setting out to Tokyo from Beijing where I had the comfort of the family I had been living with. I honestly didn’t know what to expect and I am a person who can get lost absolutely everywhere, no matter what. However, it was way better than anything I could have expected. I felt at ease the whole time (minus one time which I will write another blog post about tomorrow), I made so many new friends and had an amazing adventure the whole time.
People tell you that you learn new things and change as a person whilst traveling alone and usually being the cynical person that I was I thought what absolute bullshit. It really isn’t. I am not saying I came back and people noticed I was this completely different absolutely amazing, no flaws teen- more that you can feel the changes in yourself. I felt so confident, and this confidence grew the longer I stayed away for, it gave me the ability to talk to anyone no matter who they were and taught me that it is ok to do this. I made so many new friends and when I re- visit China I will definitely be meeting up with them. I spent a maximum three days alone whilst traveling and this includes Tokyo, Guilin and Hong Kong. So really solo travel… you really are not alone. This is why I cannot express more that traveling alone is so much better than in a group. If I was with friends on this trip I never would have met the people I did and these people I was with were the ones who made the memories even greater.
The most important thing I learned is that people are so damn good, people will always help you, always. I hate this view that humans and human nature are a load of rubbish because whilst I was traveling alone all I had to do was look a little lost and someone would come and help me. As lame as it sounds I have a much more positive view of the world and of people.
I know it seems like an extremely daunting thing to travel the huge wide world alone, but it really isn’t as big as you think. I stumbled upon someone from the same University as me in a club in Beijing. Believe me also when I say if I can do it then anyone can. My friends literally laughed when I said I was going traveling solo, they were pretty much planning my funeral for when I never showed up home again, but it really is not hard at all, in fact it’s pretty easy.
I just want to say how bloody amazing it is travelling alone, if you are considering inviting people… don’t. Do it alone and you will not regret it. Feel free to share your solo travel experiences with me in the comments, Katy x