This time last year, I decided to be YOLO and attempted my first solo trip. Not a trip to the market. But a 6D5N trip to Taiwan alone. As a 26-year-old Malaysian female (in 2016), I was travelling overseas solo for the first time in my life. 😲😲😲
I blogged about quite a number of my trips last year. But I did not blog at all about Taiwan because it was overwhelming. So overwhelming that I wanted my thoughts to settle down before penning them down. And before I knew it, I was consumed by work already.
Thanks to Khai who challenged me to write the same topic as her this week, I’m finally writing about my first solo female travel experience exactly 1 year after the trip.
So, how was it?
I was crazy nervous
Firstly, I’ve never left home before even in my college years. I didn’t know how I’d do in a foreign land alone. My mom did not understand why anyone would want to travel alone ever. She kept thinking someone would kidnap me with one arm anytime I’m out alone since I’m underweight and physically weak.
Thankfully, RK thought it’s a good idea to let me learn independence in 6 days, as long as I was going somewhere safe for a solo female traveler. He was the one who convinced my mom to let me go. Trust me, it was almost as nerve wrecking as boarding the plane alone the first time when I had to tell my mom about the solo travel plan.
I found it challenging
Before I even flew, I had to debate with people around me whether I should carry a trolley or non-trolley luggage. I think the debate lasted 2 weeks. That’s the duration I had from the time I bought my flight ticket until the trip itself anyway. Meaning we contemplated for as long as we could. Seems so trivial now but it was a big deal for a noob first-time solo traveler – me!
Of course, this was not the only problem I faced. I quickly realized I didn’t know how to speak Mandarin when I was overwhelmed. And that my horrible sense of direction and time management was giving me extra adventure. I think I can write 1 lengthy blog post just on challenges I faced in during my first solo trip.
I surprised myself
Someone told me before that I am very persistent. I’ve never exactly realized it until I speed walked 40 min to a closed park, just to verify the conflicting closing hours I was getting online. I wasn’t satisfied with the first closed side entrance I arrived at. I wasn’t satisfied when I saw people walking out from the direction I was heading to. I had to see the locked main entrance to believe it. 😂 Super stubborn.
I was surprised how daring, mindless, blur, impromptu and indecisive I actually am too. Again, I can write 1 length blog post just to give examples from the above traits I witnessed on myself during this trip.
I experienced more
It was during my first solo trip that I felt how nerve-wracking it was to board a plane alone. When I walked from the gigantic Taipei Main Station to check in at my hostel some 20 min walk away at night, I opened my eyes and absorbed the vibe of the capital city for all its glory and shame. During the 6D5N trip, I became very attuned to my emotion, personality, and energy because I was alone. No boyfriend to lean on. No friends to chat with. No family to pamper me. I was watching, hearing and feeling more. It’s probably a survival instinct to be more alert of myself and my surrounding. It’s probably also possible because there’s less distraction.
I felt refreshed
After watching my bus leave so many times because I was waiting at the wrong side of the road, I became used to getting disappointed at myself that I was at peace with my horrible sense of direction. When I walked into seemingly boring attractions and ended up being fascinated for hours, I felt humbled by the culture and history of the Taiwanese people. Not forgetting, Taipei alone had tonnes of beautiful nature that kept tempting me to divert from my original plan (actually, I didn’t even have any plan).
Time and again when I surprised myself with how stubborn, daring, mindless, blur, impromptu and indecisive I could get, I thought I was getting to know myself better. And it’s all refreshing because I was realizing things I never exactly realized about myself before.
I felt accomplished
I’ve seen several friends go on solo trips at various parts of the world. Some to developed cities. Some to adventure towns. But for either of the scenarios, I’ve never expected myself to be in their shoes. There’s probably only 5% of me who thought there’s a chance I want to and could do it myself.
In April 2016, I was in between jobs for like the 4th time in my life. I was done fighting cancer just 6 months prior. I thought life after cancer was more challenging than life during cancer. During this vulnerable period, I somehow felt the urge to want to do something I’ve never done before. It must be this desperation to want to break free from the norm that I found the intense courage to want to attempt travelling solo for the first time in my life.
Honestly, it was really scary in the beginning. But I got the drill day after day. And on the final morning in Taiwan, I thought I could do this forever. I felt free. I felt empowered. I felt I could do well on my own. And I definitely felt like doing it again, especially when I need to feel alive — read: nervous, challenged, surprised, alert, refreshed and accomplished.
So I guess you have the answer to the title of this post. I vote for To Solo at least once in a lifetime. No regret for me. Hopefully, no regret for you too when you had or have your first.