Everyone who has left on an adventure knows the question, “How was it? Tell me all about it!” as soon as they walk in the door. “It was good,” is all that comes out. The feeling of change and a whole new exploration flows out slowly in stories, when one is reminded of something insignificantly small. The tiny little things matter. And of course, your own experience is so hard to translate in words. The inability to relate and to share creates a void, a feeling of isolation on your own little island of expansiveness.
Traveling on your own is quite the leap. There is no one to bounce ideas off of. You trust in your own gut and just have to go with the flow if you want to experience. You are definitely not comfortable. I laugh now at the little things that bother people: flies, food that is not kept cold in a fridge, or the humidity that clings and begs for an air conditioner.
I want to share the good and the bad of traveling on your own… and just living abroad in general. Sometimes people want to glorify it… but this is some real talk! Let’s start with the hard stuff that most of you would probably never want to experience.
- Going on a walk to the beach through the desert, making sure my phone is charged so I’ll have a torch on the way back. Just a bit afraid of snakes, hissing large red roos, and scorpions… haha on your own you never know what you’ll run into and fears creep in.
- Prickly blue caterpillars in Nepal that will surely give you a good sting.
- Tarantulas chillin’ on the side of the road in the Dominican
- Hanging dead animals in open meat shops, flies swarming
- The staring eyes of men of India and Indonesia. Just walking out my door makes me feel like an animal as everyone unshamingly won’t take their eyes off of me. When I leave the gym in a tank top and stop at a shop for a coconut, a man goes crazy at the sight of my bare shoulders. The shop owner knows me by now as I stop at his shop daily. He hides me inside the shop so the man can stop harassing me.
- Having to wear a mask over my nose and mouth whenever I’m outdoors. If I don’t, at the end of the day I’ll blow my nose and it’ll all be black.
- Having to deal with burning plastic EVERYWHERE… my eyes burn. I try to hold my breath.
- Coming home and spraying cockroach spray everywhere to see at least 20 new cockroaches crawl out from spaces and die. Then I try to kill one of these cockroaches, the size of my hand, that is in my room, but it escapes so I sleep with the lights on all night.
- The humidity is so real that by the end of my stay I’ll have to throw out most of my clothes because they’ve molded.
- I’m chilling on my patio and people peep over my high walls to peak in on me.
- I’m woken up by the roaring call of prayer at 3:30am.
- Trying to swat the 30 flies that on me.
- Getting charged a stupid amount of money for a taxi ride.
- Sleeping in a bed for a couple of nights that definitely has bed bugs but the guy giving me the room says there definitely is not… creepy crawlers.
- Having to deal with men. I’m by myself. I was molested by the man sitting next to me on a plane while I slept.
Okay, basically you get the point. It’s not a walk in the park traveling on your own. It’s also such a beautiful thing though! I would never trade it. I’ve become who I am…very strong and independent (very blunt too!).
I feel so inspired overseas. My routine is so vibrant and feeds my soul. I wake up between 4:30-5:30am and have a vibrant yoga filled morning. Breathing. Feeling. Sunrise feels. Amazing brekkies and coffee… me time. I find a local market (it may be from a guy on a motorbike or a local stand or farm) to buy my fresh goodies. I find new tropical fruit or veggies to experiment with. I find out that tempeh molds quickly. I find out how to use herbs in different ways. I have excess mangos and avocados so I make juices and sorbet. I write in my journal and read books and do things that make me happy. I catch the sunset every night. Life is SIMPLE. Animals become my companion. Every country in Asia an animal claims me as theirs and I am comforted. I meet people who become an integral part of my experience. The people who beckon me into their shop to share a tea, the warm hello from the people who will always remember me, becoming a part of people’s lives and families in a way that is so from the heart.
Here’s some of the good:
- Using a waterfall as my shower. Using the sun to dry myself and my clothes.
- Spending the day eating and drinking and cooking with people with few words of communication.
- Sleeping on the net of a catamaran to the full moon and waking up to the sun rise. Jumping in the ocean off the boat as soon as I wake up.
- Walking down the street and deciding to get a haircut and awesome head massage from the guy with the salon on the street side.
- Making a friend at a restaurant in Singapore that I meet two years later in Kathmandu.
- Meeting friends all over the world who will visit me in and out of my life in so many different places.
- Chilling in a hammock above rice fields looking at the Himalayas.
- Swimming naked in the bioluminescence on the Great Barrier Reef.
- Snorkelling for hours on the Great Barrier Reef every day. What a dream!
- Enjoying a delicious chocolate croissant from many bakeries…and exploring many bakeries and cafes… eating the local cuisine 😛
- Reading books for my soul… and serendipitously receiving them from people
- Walking down many different paths through the streets and forests and feeling a state of bliss at carving them out and finding the peace in it all
- Spending evenings dancing and singing with locals
- Swimming away from shore and treading water for an hour while the sun sets
- Surfing because you’re free and why not give it a go?
- Spending New Years Eve doing a yoga class
- Leaving a piece of my heart with so many souls
It’s so comforting being who you are…and having people around the world fall in love with that and treat you as a friend and family. Of course, it might be hard. You’re culture is so different from most people you will meet. Sometimes people are much more blunt or have a different sense of humor. Maybe you won’t be able to speak the language so you’ll feel isolated. You’ll also feel isolated because you’re a 12 hour time difference to your loves. Maybe the internet is shit. But you’ll find that when you come back home, so much inside of you has changed, for the better. Even those tough times, you’ll see how beautiful they were to help you GROW. You’ll learn how much you’ve carved out who you are. That you like your alone time, it’s not scary, you’re not lonely… you just know that you know what you like and you know what lifts you up. I think that’s been the biggest lesson… discovering me through all that alone time, finding my way in all these foreign, uncomfortable places. And being okay… home creates such a beautiful place of rest to look back and see all this in hindsight. Wooooo beauty and growth.