In my last post, I wrote a bit about why I went on a solo vacation and gave a short description of Apulit, the resort where I stayed at.
The thing is, I may not have conquered some Himalayan mountain or communed with Buddhist priests like other legit travelers, but I found my trip rejuvenating and fulfilling anyway.
I really think that whether you’re a creature of comfort or an adventure junkie, it would be totally worth it to do a solo trip at least once in your life.
Sharing with you some things I got from the experience:
BECOMING MORE MINDFUL OF MY SURROUNDINGS
Here’s the thing about me when traveling; I’m pretty much a space cadet. Because my loved ones are uber organized, someone always takes charge, takes a hold of my stuff and makes sure I get from point A to point B unscathed with all my belongings intact.
Because I was completely on my own in this trip, I was actually more mindful of certain things that I usually take for granted when traveling with other people; I was more conscious of the time, of where we were, of where I left my stuff, of my personal safety etc. (Ok, fine. I got lost once. We landed in Palawan right? The minute the resort dude left to get my bags, I found myself in this jeep taking passengers back to Manila. There was a walk of shame involved, but other than that, I did fine).
More importantly, I was able to soak in the experience a little bit more. Because I did not have a companion to distract me from my surroundings, I was able to relax, take in the view and smell the flowers (or in this case the salt water) so to speak.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE
I’m a pretty friendly person, so talking to strangers on trips is not really new to me. Since I always traveled with someone though, these exchanges were short and fleeting. But I guess because I was alone this time around, the guests and even the staff found it easier to approach me and start real conversations with me. I actually learned a lot about these individuals’ families and their lives back home (wherever home is).
As an added bonus, I got freebies from the staff; I got me some happy hour cocktails, some new appetizers they’re testing out etc. (I’d like to think it was because I was friendly, but maybe it’s also because they find it easier to throw in free stuff to a solo traveler than an entire family.)
It was actually great getting to know new people I otherwise wouldn’t have met if I went on a vacation with someone.
BEING ABLE TO DO THE THINGS THAT I WANT TO DO
This is my idea of a good vacation: Lounging at the beach the entire day with a good book. Every so often, I would take a nano second dip in the water just to cool off and then I’d go back to my book. At sunset, I get a couple of vodka tonics, sip them leisurely while taking in the view. When it starts to get dark, I would go back to my room to chill and sleep. Then I do the same thing the following day.
None of this exploring and touring crap.
The thing is, when you go on trips with people, you naturally incorporate what they want to do; And since my idea of fun isn’t for everybody, I always find myself giving way to the activities that my companions insist are necessary.
For this particular trip though, I did not have to worry about people getting too hot or too bored, I did not have to give in to people coaxing me to do something fun (this is fun for me dammit!), I just followed my own lethargic, sedentary bliss.
I did exactly what I wanted to do: Absolutely nothing! And I enjoyed every bit of it.
BECOMING CHUMS WITH MYSELF
To be clear, I don’t have a problem being by myself. I could spend hours alone at home or even in public places and be thoroughly entertained. But it’s not as if I purposefully set out to do this; alone time usually just happens in between chores or meeting with people.
Going on a solo trip was by far the only thoughtful, deliberate effort I’ve made to spend time with myself.
At first, I found the experience uncomfortable. It did not help that people would curiously ask why I wasn’t with anyone (I never realised that solo trips were such a novel concept). There were times when I wanted to defensively state to no one in particular, “I have loved ones guys! I just left them all in Manila!”
But gradually, I started liking being alone. Just as I became more conscious of my surroundings, I gained a deeper awareness of myself. In as much as I had meaningful conversations with strangers, I also had in-depth conversations with me (not in the scary, schizophrenic kind of way though). And if in previous trips, I valued what other people wanted to do, this trip made me value what I liked doing.
It got me thinking, why is it that when you say you value another person, you make an effort to spend time with that person, but when you say you value yourself, you feel kind of uncomfortable, even guilty doing the same thing?
I realized that like any other individual l claim that I love, I needed to spend time getting to know myself. And taking myself out on trips and on dates, was the perfect way I could do that.
I had a lot of awesome new experiences in my solo trip for sure. But I think my greatest takeaway from all of this was that I learned to be my own best friend and to appreciate, even relish just being by myself again.