12 September 2020

TEN Reasons Solo Travel Sucks

 

Athena and I after trying the poop coffee in Peru, near Cusco.

"One day you will wake up and there will be no more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now."

~ Paulo Coelho

Yes, of course I talked about the reasons why SOLO travel is a MUST-DO in my last blog post. Well, there are two sides to every coin and story. The idea is that, like many things in life, you have to take the good with the bad and keep things in perspective. It's not always about a brighter side or sunny days. There is magic in the storms as well. Solo travel is indeed a must-do, but when you do it, keep these ten things in mind, too:

My friends, Osmany, Jader and his son. We traveled around Esteli and Somoto in Nicaragua. I got some of my best shots of Nica with them. And a new nickname... Mecha Corta or Short Fuse from my first experience with Nicaraguan police who wanted my camera. Not happening. 

1. You have to do EVERYTHING yourself

There are definitely advantages to doing it yourself, but after a while, it gets old. When you are doing extended travel, like I am, it's easy to get frustrated when you have to find the next hotel to book, select your route to the next destination, or even just figure out where to eat. Sometimes you just want to look over to your imaginary friend and say, "You take this one."

2. We all need somebody to lean on sometimes

This is no joke... and it's inevitable. You can bet your bananas there will come a time when the best thing for you is human companionship, camaraderie, and contact. You will be the lesser for the lack of it, but that doesn't mean you can't overcome what ails you. You might sink into a state of depression, for whatever reason or maybe you are just homesick. Nothing goes as planned all the time and that doesn't change when you are traveling. Why should it? How perfect is your life at home? Why would you expect it to be any different on the road. You just deal with it. But shouldering the burden by yourself can really suck.


Cascades Siete jungle tour, El Salvador. I traveled with Tracie through 5 countries in Central America for 3 months. 20 minutes after this shot is when I had my thumb incident.


3. Second Pair of Eyes

All your stuff has to come into the bathroom with you! Okay, you got that one solved. But what happens when you go to the beach. You can't bring all your stuff with you in the water! And as a photographer, it's good to have someone watching your back while you get those late evening shots or those urban scenes. You never know who else has eyes on YOU! Besides that, I guarantee you that you'll try to follow directions looking for street numbers or landmarks. Having a second pair of eyes to help find the right corner where your bus lets you off might be the crucial element between you getting to your hostel or winding up across town. 

4. Who takes great pics of YOU? (Particularly when you're doing something stupid.)

Self-explanatory. Get used to those handheld selfies!


The Black Souls of Esteli, Nicaragua asked if I wanted to take a ride. I couldn't see a reason not to run off with a biker group I just met.

5. When you absolutely MUST get up in the morning

You know there are those moments when you cannot depend on yourself to get up early in the morning. You need that other person to say, "Hey! We got a plane to catch. Get your ass up!"

6. You can read only so many books

I'd call myself an avid reader

. When you travel long term like I do, books go only so far. There will be some boring ass days when all you have on your to-do list is... NOT A DAMN THING! Well, I guess you could right that book. HA! Right...

"Some beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost.'

~ Erol Ozan


Art Model Kristi and I catching a ride on a fishing boat to Little Corn Island during bad weather. A 30-minute fast boat trip turned into 3 hours on this sea crawler!

7. When you REALLY need that 2nd opinion

Can't tell you how many times I've been in this situation. You don't know what you're missing, not seeing, or forgetting about the directions on where you are supposed to go, which bus to take, or what that sign says. Having that second person to overlap your gaps keeps you from looking stupid or making big mistakes.

8. Going to a nice restaurant by yourself? PASS!

Table for 1? I don't think so. I'm not doing it. I'll get something to go, but I'm not eating at a fine dining spot by myself. You just look stupid and desperate. But that could just be my own insecurities. I get that, and will own it. 

9. Unwanted advances

Ladies...? You know what I'm talking about right? Just because you're single and solo, doesn't mean you are available to every bolo that comes a-callin'. I've been hit on by other men, as well. I'm not sure what signals I'm giving off, but I need to figure it out. I actually got physically assaulted by a dude who's advances I rebuffed. He got dealt with. I emerged from that incident with all my teeth and consciousness. He did not. Watch yourself. 

Lake Titicaca. Jenny and I traveled together for 3 weeks in Peru from the northern edge to the southern border.

10. Sharing those special moments and memories.

I have some travel buddies and it's always a beautiful thing to reminisce about that time spent together enjoying a travel moment. I have many fond memories having been with a significant other as well as someone platonic. Having someone with you, even as a witness, who recounts the same cherished experience is a blessing.

11. Bonus! Having to laugh BY yourself!

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. You hear something funny on TV, Facebook, or Netflix and the only one available to laugh with you is the person in the mirror. The cool thing is that they will laugh back if they are all you have. 

Oh... and I have no idea where "bet your bananas" came from. I just... I'm sorry. 

My baby brother and I on a road trip traveling to Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. 



01 September 2020

TEN Reasons Solo Travel Is a Must-Do at Some Point in Your Life

 "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Heather

Traveling of any kind is not the easiest thing to do right now, especially if you are from the US. That being said, we can still at least talk about travel, right? Traveling through Central America, South America, and now Southeast Asia has been a definite highlight of my life. Fear has gripped me at times, but I have a tendency to want to do the things I fear. I grew up afraid a lot and had to learn to master many different aspects of fearful things in my life. I got bullied. My cousin taught me to fight back. To do that, he taught me getting hit in the face wasn't the worst thing in the world. Then I began to stand my ground and give hits as well as I took them. That moment was the beginning of my observation of the fear in myself and my desire to not let it conquer me. Vietnam scared me. That's even the title of a blog post. Now I'm here in Vietnam and don't want to leave. These are my 10 reasons solo travel is a must-do for you at some point in your life. By the way, all the women in these portraits are world travelers doing their own thing, whom I've met along the way. The first one, Heather, is a dear friend who is likely the biggest influence on my travel habits today. 

1. CHEAPER!

If it's just you, you can eat someplace cheap or skip meals. If it's you and a buddy, partner, or spouse, you will likely feel obligated to eat somewhere where you both can agree and you're more likely to eat someplace that is more upscale than had you been by yourself. I can skip breakfast, (usually because I sleep in and miss it.) and I do not feel some sense of obligation to get breakfast so the other person doesn't eat alone. This isn't with just food. You are more likely to take cheaper transportation if you are by yourself. You can get a smaller, thus cheaper room. Now you can save your money for the things that really matter, like experiences, tours, etc.

Shahla

2. Time is on Your Side

You can set your own clock now and chose to delay or ignore it entirely. When you want to move, go somewhere, or do anything, you can wait or do it earlier and not have to worry about breaking an agreed upon timetable with someone else. I did a 6-hour cave tour once. I can tell you for fact, I would never have been able to say that had I waited for all the people who told me they would gladly do it with me. Instead, I jumped in my car, drove the two and a half hours to Mammoth Caves, signed up with a tour group, and just did it. 

Yuval

3. Freedom to Chart Your Own Course

Trying to decide on where to go? Now you can make that trip that you've always wanted when nobody else wanted to. You are the decision maker of your own course. Try it!

4. Freedom to Change Your Mind

At your leisure, you can choose to stay at one spot longer than intended or leave early. You can cancel a certain part of a trip or add onto your itinerary as you like. It's up to you. 

Felicia

5. The Things You Learn About Yourself

Not everything is going to go as planned. Things happen. You will learn much more self-reliance and self-confidence that will benefit you in so many other ways in life. You will absolutely be able to check the block on Personal Growth. I'm here on my own in Vietnam during a GLOBAL pandemic. I can tell you it has not been the easiest choice to make to stay and not run home. And I am so glad I chose to stay.

“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends” 

~ Shirley MacLaine

Hyun

6. Meeting New People 

Lots of people you meet on the road while traveling will chose not to engage you if you are already with someone else, mostly locals. If you are alone, I think you are much more approachable and they will be more apt to help you with food selections, directions, reading menus, etc. Next thing you know, you're having beers together, playing pool, or going on trips. Now you have a local guide!

7. New Experiences Will Build You Up

Right in line with learning about yourself and meeting new people, you will encounter these new experiences that will become the stories of your life. This is what living is all about. It is a process of learning and these are experiences that you bring back home will encourage others to follow your path. 

Egle

8. Facing Challenges When Plans Fall Apart

Not all these experiences have positive outcomes, but you learn how to deal with them and overcome them. And these are character building exercises that help you grow as a person. Becoming a traveler helps you grow as a person and a human being. But that only works if you learn to take each negative experience and learn from them. That's just life. But here's the real gem. Sometimes when things don't go according to plan, it's a good thing. They will often go better than you could ever have imagined.

Abi

9. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

This is the greatest thing you can do for yourself. It is impossible to grow as a person unless you remove yourself from your own fishbowl. Swim in new waters. See how other cultures have lived their lives and learn what you can from them. 

10. More Thorough Reflection of It All

Solo travel is a special thing. And when you look back through it all, you see how tough, smart, and resourceful you really are. It may inspire you to write a book or a blog post, but you will inevitably contemplate why you hadn't done it sooner AND why everyone doesn't do solo travel from time to time. 

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” 

~ Barbara De Angelis

I am no where near done and, God willing, I'll continue this adventure for several more years. As I look back on the 32 months I've been traveling like this, I see all the faces of the people whom I've met that have helped me, took care of me, and entertained me along the way. I have learned so much in this time and I want to experience so much more. There is a whole lot of unseen world yet for me to explore and I can't wait. Well, I am willing to wait here in Vietnam for a while and let the world settled back down a little. I figure another year here will suffice... hopefully. 

Be sure to catch me next time when I tell you about why Solo Travel sucks. 

Sarah