When I was researching and planning my extended travel trip last year, I came across a lot of articles talking about why we should all go travelling, the benefits it brings, and also more specifically on how travelling solo allows you to “find yourself“.
“Travel” and “finding yourself“. Reading those two sets of words together makes me cringe every time. It’s the same feeling I get whenever I see the phrase “a coming-of-age story“.
Anyway, I went on my solo travel trip to try to “find myself” but I’m disappointed to say I didn’t quite come back with any major epiphanies about my life (I’m thinking that I might perhaps have missed the cutoff age to “find myself” via travelling). I came back with the same main thought I left with, which is the same one I’ve had since I was about 15 –
“To continue to work hard and smart, and invest wisely now to ensure I have a good amount of passive income to live off of later on in life, that will allow me to take care of myself.”
It seems like a very Asian thing to say…but then I am Asian so meh.
OK, so I didn’t quite “find myself” but I did discover a few (not quite ground-breaking) things that I thought I’d share. They may perhaps encourage you to drop everything and go travelling yourself to discover similarly mind-blowing things about yourself.
What I DID learn about myself
- I have a much higher tolerance for poor hygiene and general dirtiness than I originally thought. Once I saw filth everywhere in SE Asia, I stopped noticing it as much.
- I generally tend to eat a lot when I’m in London. Having gone days without eating regular three course meals when I was travelling, especially in Australia and New Zealand where good food is expensive, I found out that I don’t actually need to eat all that much. I mostly ate just to try new foods rather than because I was feeling hungry.
- Hostels are cool! I had never stayed in a hostel prior to this trip. It was always hotels and BNBs for me. Hostels are actually a great way of staying in decent accommodation even if you are not travelling on your own (I’m talking about private bedrooms here), for good rates, whilst enabling you to meet other like-minded travellers.
- I don’t need a hair dryer. This was a major revelation for me. You wouldn’t understand unless you have long hair.
- I need the internet. My initial thought had been to go on a tech detox whilst on the road. It didn’t last long. I need to stay somewhat connected to the rest of the world when I’m travelling, even if it’s just via email. I also need to keep up to date with news of what’s happening around the world (I ended up subscribing to the digital edition of The Economist after 2 months of living in ignorance).
- I really enjoy walking long distances. It is a great way to explore a place and doubles as good exercise too. One of my best memories from my trip was my 7 hour trek across the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand.
- I love travelling solo. I had my doubts before leaving but they all turned out to be false. I should’ve done this earlier!
- I still think that planning trips properly are the way to go. I am a planner at heart but had flirted with the idea of travelling by the seat of my pants whilst on the road. There were a few times where I tried it…and where I ended up missing out on experiences that I would really quite like to have had. OK, you could argue that I gained other experiences instead, but really, it wasn’t what I had been looking for. I going to stick to planning.
- I am not that bad at socialising and conversation! I thought I’d be Billy-No-Mates sitting in the corner of the hostel hall on my own, but no! I actually managed to make new friends and find people to eat and socialise with whenever I was looking for company. This has given me more self-confidence and I’m no longer as shy as I used to be when approaching new people. It of course helps that travellers generally tend to be a really friendly bunch.
What about you guys? Any “major epiphanies” discovered from your travels?