For many different reasons we decided to spread for few weeks and to travel alone. We chose Indonesia for that. I started from Bali and I slowly moved westward, toward Jakarta, while Andrea by land and boat reached Sumatra and heading east was also slowly getting closer to the capital.
Solo travel is a completely different experience than travelling in couple.
Already few moments after saying goodbye, at the Singapore’s harbor, people started to approach me, make questions, initiate conversations. It happens sometimes when we travel together, but never to such extent. It was really nice, it’s much easier to get to know people, gain new contacts. Hard though, to be alone for a while. In Indonesia it became even more intense. People took great care of me, invited me to their houses, literally passed me from one hands to another. One family put me in the bus in one city and the second was already waiting for me in another. Everybody extremely nice, it’s not often in my life when I experienced so much care. The fact, that I was traveling alone as a woman for sure was one of the important reasons for that. In a three weeks span I got to know much more people than usually, I built much deeper and stronger relations. From other advantages – I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, I didn’t have to ask anybody for opinion, discuss decisions, I just fully followed my feelings. I also had much more time for myself and for the project. While travelling with Andrea we spend a lot of time discussing, exchanging opinions or even arguing, but when I was alone and nothing was happening I could use all that time for writing the stories, transcription and planning next steps.
Those are the good sides.
From challenges point of view, when you travel alone, you have to organize and plan everything by yourself, also things which usually were taken by your partner. In our case, it’s Andrea who usually takes care of the map, finding the right direction or place to eat. Suddenly, you have to do everything alone, those things you like and those you like less, those that come easy and those you don’t know (or at least you believe you don’t) how to do. It’s a good chance for developing and going beyond your own barriers, but it’s also quite stressful and much more tiring. Most of the little things I managed to overcome already the first day when I had to eat something or find the couchsurfer’s place. Everything went much easier than I thought and all the fear I had before proved to be completely unreasonable. But on the long run this feeling that you have to do everything alone and there is no chance to let somebody else to lead for a while, become quite tiring. Much more tiring though, was the lack of someone to share the experience with. That was the most difficult part. You don’t have anybody to discuss things and express what is happening inside yourself. There are people around, but, first of all, often they are the subject or the reason of your thoughts and secondly, they know you only for a while; it’s hard then to understand each other beyond words and start a discussion without describing the context. There are also the friends on the Internet, but it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to explain people some of the things they don’t experience themselves. And travel always brings a lot of emotions, new occurrences and quite a lot of stress which, without a way out, it cumulates within. Without a person close by, who can understand because she/he is also taking part to the situation, it can be difficult. Very difficult. Travelling without companion you have to learn even how to drink a coffee alone, how to admire sunsets alone and you have to accept that a lot of experiences are not to be shared with anybody else. You have to accept the feeling of loneliness which appears from time to time and regain your strength and energy from yourself. Those are important skills, which are worth to challenge from time to time. Life is unpredictable, you never know when they will be needed.
The last issue is security. Women travelling alone… it’s worth to be more careful than usually, but honestly speaking, during those three weeks I felt no danger. It’s one of those things which we tend to make bigger than they are, especially if there are connected with an unknown culture.
All in all, I believe that solo travelling is something everybody should try. It’s a good method for building deep relations with new people, but above all with yourself. It’s a period you face your own limits and overcome your own weaknesses. It’s a period to completely accept and love yourself. It’s also period full of challenges. But you can’t face them without hitting the road, so don’t worry too much – just try. I’m sure you won’t regret.