As Filipinos, being in a group is the norm. We live in packs. In here, I tend to be the odd one out. At the office, I’d frequently take lunches alone and people would come up to me concerned, asking whether I’m with someone else. I admit that sometimes I feel defensive and I give random reasons because saying “I want to be” doesn’t seem to be enough.
In the same line, despite being in a relationship, I also travel solo (Read: Coron and Dumaguete-Siqujor). My experience is that people would often pepper me with questions, asking why I am alone, whether I’m single or heartbroken, whether I’m in a relationship and currently hurting. I remember this server in Siquijor who asked me thrice whether I would like to get a table for one (She kept saying, “Mag-isa ka???”).
But more importantly, I do get messages from friends and readers who get inspired and ask me about traveling alone. If you travel alone, this might be relatable to you too.
1. I’m an introvert and we love our me-times
Introverts are the perfect solo travelers, aren’t we? We like being alone and we’re comfortable being alone.
I like going on joiner tours every now and then for the sheer convenience, but I always find it difficult to go through small talk with strangers and oftentimes I can’t venture out on my own even for short periods because it raises an alarm bell on other people. That is, they would ask me if I am okay or immediately label me with “soloista” or “nang-iiwan”, none of which have a positive connotation. (It’s interesting that the latter is only done by men. Hmm.) It’s cool how Filipinos are others oriented and I appreciate being cared for, but I need my personal space too.
That saying, given the choice of group trips, I prefer being with friends or family — basically people I already know.
2. Solo trips are more likely to push through
I know we’d all been there — coming up with a plan with friends, setting a schedule and itinerary, and as the date comes near everyone backs out one by one until the trip is canceled. There are different reasons for this: conflict of schedule, emergencies (and “emergencies”), unforeseen expenses leading to lack of funds, change of priorities and a whole bunch of personal reasons.
Well, whenever I travel alone I don’t have that problem.
Moreover, if I decide to cancel, I’m not inconveniencing anyone.
I’m in a relationship with Hali and I like traveling with him. I also believe that couples who travel together only strengthen their relationship — that or completely break it up, whatever. However, there are numerous times when he is unavailable for trips and if I had to wait for him every time, I would rarely get my sunscreen and beach towel out.
Whenever it’s just me I can just click “Book” and tadaaa.
3. No need to deal with incompatible people
Group trips are practical, but for it to work you have to be compatible with your companions.
Over the years I traveled with people whom I had great time with and I traveled with others whom I prefer not to join again in the future. Sometimes it’s a case of people being obnoxious, irresponsible or disrespectful and other negative traits. Sometimes it’s really just a matter of incompatibility. A few years ago I went out with close friends and one of them turned out to be a city lover while I prefer being out with nature. Without going into much details that trip was still one of the most disastrous I’ve had to date.
4. It’s a continuing challenge
Traveling alone can be uncomfortable and challenging. No matter how people think that I’m brave or intimidating, I also get scared too.
For instance, here in my home country, it’s easy for me to ask directions from strangers. When I lived in Malaysia, I found out that not everyone speaks or understands English and more than once was I given wrong information or direction. As such, I would dread coming up to a stranger and even communicating with restaurants servers, but I was alone and I had to do it.
Solo traveling involves a continuing challenge to one’s self. To be brave, be confident, be able to speak up. There’s a reason there are a number of books and movies dedicated to traveling alone: because it’s a great tool for building character and self-confidence.
5. I’m an empath
What is an empath? It’s a spiritual term referring to someone who is sensitive to energies. There are different kinds of empaths — some are sensitive to weather or earth changes, while there are others like me who are sensitive to their immediate surroundings or people. This means I immediately get a feel of people. Even at first meeting, I know whether I like someone or not. It doesn’t mean they are good or bad, it’s just that they operate in a different vibration from mine.
As such, I can be selective on which crowd to mingle with because being with people I do not resonate with leaves me feeling physically drained or hurting from headache.
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!
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).