As Filipinos, being in a group is the norm. We live in packs. Back in the Philippines, I was always the odd one out. I’d frequently take lunches alone and people would get concerned and ask whether I was with someone. Sometimes I do feel defensive and give other reasons other than “I want to be.”
In the same line, you guys know that despite being in a relationship, I also travel solo (Read: Coron and Siqujor-Negros Oriental). People I meet on travels often pepper me with questions and ask me what’s up. I remember this server in Siquijor who confirmed to me thrice that I would like to get a table for one (“Mag-isa ka?“).
But more importantly, I do get messages from friends and readers who get inspired and ask me about traveling alone. So everyone, this is for you.
Why I travel solo:
#1 I’m an introvert
Introverts are the perfect solo travelers, aren’t we? We like being alone, we’re comfortable being alone.
I do like going on joiner tours every now and then for its convenience, but then I’d have to go through small talk with strangers (which is a serious pain in the ass) and I can’t venture out on my own because people would often call out and ask me if I am okay. I mean, it’s cool how Filipinos are others oriented and I appreciate being cared for, it’s just I need my personal space too.
That saying, given the choice of group trips, I prefer being with friends or family.
Related Read: The realities about traveling as an introvert
#2 Also an empath
This may be the first time you’ve heard this concept or maybe you’re familiar with it and think it’s madness, but whatever. I’m an empath and sensitive to other people’s energies.
I find that as time goes on, I have to be more selective on which crowd to mingle with because being with people whose energies just don’t jive with mine makes me feel drained or gives me headaches.
#3 Sometimes it’s easier to schedule trips alone
We’d all been there. We’ll plan trips with friends and a lot of times it won’t push through due to conflicts in schedule or people backing out one by one, at the last minute. Emergencies, lack of funds, change of priorities, other personal reasons. It’s why the term “drawing” was invented (“drawing na naman“).
You’d think that being in a relationship with a fellow backpacker will change this, but aha, Hali and I are individuals too. For the last year, Hali was often unavailable for trips. He had to work or decided to save for something else (photography equipment and so on). I think in a way he has outgrown traveling and moved on to serious matters. If I’d waited for him on everything, I’d rarely get my beach towel and sunscreen out.
When it’s just me I can just click book and tadaaa…
#4 Sometimes more efficient too
Group travels are inexpensive, but for it to work you have to be with compatible people.
Personally, I click better with the “older” backpackers rather than the new ones. Less arte, more quality time spent on the road. The travelers I meet recently are more “touristy”, with some “backpackers” prioritizing walwalan and staying in accommodations rather than backpacking out there.
I’m not judging anyone’s travel style, but like I said, when traveling with other people you have to agree on basic terms.
As for myself, I tend to balance out my itineraries — I try to see as many as I can, without being rushed and also giving out a time for me to relax and enjoy a sunset or a good dinner.
So rather than forcing myself to get along with others who would like to see the world differently, I simply choose to go through it on my own.
#5 It’s a challenge
Yes, being an introvert helps a lot on being on my own, but it can still get uncomfortable and challenging. No matter what my friends think, I also get scared too.
Back in the Philippines, it’s easy for me to ask directions from locals. Things got a little complicated when I got here in Malaysia and I found that some do not understand common English phrases, and not once was I given a wrong information or direction. I’d learned to dread asking, but when you’re alone, you have to do it no matter what.
Solo traveling is about yourself continually striving to speak up and be more confident. I guess that’s why people say it’s good for building up character and confidence.
Related Read: Realizations from traveling solo for the first time
Do you do solo travel as well? How do you find it? If not, would you like to try it someday? Let us hear about it in the comments!