Where would I be now if I hadn’t first travelled alone? It is scary to even think. Probably in my hometown, working a civil service job, pissing my wages up the wall. My life boozing at shop fronts and train stations was going nowhere but further into alcoholism and probable depression. I had always complete different interests and aspirations than anyone around me. Most of all I didn’t want to live an ordinary life and travel was my escape. The more I craved travel the further I distanced myself from life back home. It came to the extent where I rarely socialised and my life went on hold to put down solid plans for changing my life. This meant travelling alone. I bought an open ended ticket to Thailand and disappeared, travelling alone for 6 months. In these six months I learned more than I would have in a lifetime in my home. While travelling alone takes sacrifices and somewhat terrifying decisions I would make them all again a million times over. Not only do I live the life I always dreamed of but I have learned to live without social needs and can travel the world on my own without apprehension. I am just one of many to turn backs on ordinary life to go travelling alone, pursuing personal passion. I’ve don’t think I’ve heard any regret it. So where is my life now having decided on travelling alone in Southeast Asia? I found the most amazing wife, own my own condo in Bangkok, dept free and work from next to my sun drenched infinity pool. Where would I be now if I hadn’t gone travelling alone? As I said… scary to even think.
Travelling Alone vs Travel with Others
I only ever travel alone. Travelling with others is no more than a holiday. I did travel in groups in my younger years from weeks in Ibiza to road trips through Europe and while it was fun it was in honesty little rewarding; both in life and personal growth. It wasn’t until travelling alone to Thailand where travel became exciting and addictive. Being alone and alien is therapeutic to me. There was always one travel quote which stood out to me “To travel is to take a journey into yourself” by Danny Kaye. While I hate generic travel quotes and cliches I feel this best describes travelling alone. You cannot journey into yourself when others hold your hand. Admittedly Danny Kaye was not a traveller but neither am I. I am more of a serial tourist living my dream life in Asia.
If You Can’t Feel Free Alone then You Aren’t Free
How can you be free with a constant need for companionship and acceptance. At least try travelling alone before travelling with others. It’s not hard. When travelling alone I always stay in budget hotels, or rent apartments for long-term. I travel to busy destinations, escape the travellers, drink local booze and eat local food. Much of my travels are spent alone, people watching from behind blurry eyes and table top of food. There are few things better in life. While much of my recent travels have been with my wife I still long for them evenings, alone, on an unfamiliar street corner, reflecting.
You Don’t Need to be a Backpacker
For many of us the backpacker trails are of little interest. Turning up to the next generic backpacker bar and sharing stories about beer drinking with backpackers in past generic backpacker bars. A bit of a stereotype I know but you do still find it. With backpackers there tends to be little local immersion. If you want to actually experience countries avoid the backpacker and hostel banter and instead befriend locals to bring you into the destination. It’s simple these days with online social media. Locals are happy to learn your culture and happy to promote their own. Also do it in advance and learn a bit about the destination before arriving. Meet a cute girl (or guy) even better. You will undoubtedly learn a lot more from locals than turning up at tourist attractions as most travellers do. Remember your perceptions and experiences will be very different to other travellers. Also sharing travel tales of South America when in Asia or experiences in Bangkok when in Singapore will only skew the experience of your current destination. Lose the travellers and find your own experiences.
The Illusion / Delusion of Travel
I have always toyed with the idea of constant travel but the more I travel the more I am put off by it. Travel looks more exciting than it actually is, often full of anticlimaxes, the Grass is Always Greener etc. That’s why I chose to settle in a place I love and create a balanced, and in my opinion more fulfilling life. A life with travel but not dedicated to it. Looking at Maslow (Hierarchy of needs) shows a basic example for the human’s basic need for security and safety.Things which are far from guaranteed during travel. Not definitive but accepted by many. While some travellers thrive on neglecting them for most of us they are essential. This goes the same for society. You will find today’s nomads and vagabonds are not so different to gypsies, neds and tinkers, only more awesome sounding. Hardly the most desirable of lives. What confuses me most about a lifestyle of travel is the purpose and endgame? Where does it lead to? What are the goals? I can see how travel can be seen as avoidance of fulfilling actual dreams. While people maybe born travellers I think many use it only as a front; to appear to be doing something better and more exciting than others. Don’t forget to share it on Facebook… What I find annoys travellers most is people not being jealous of their lifestyle. They won’t understand this and come to the conclusion that you are jealous and your a liar. You have to be jealous… after all they are free. I think before travelling alone, instead of aspiring to a lifestyle of travel try seeking out lives which you find more fulfilling. It is better to set realistic goals for a better and balanced lifestyle.
Why Off-the-Beaten Track?
Again I don’t wholly understand the fascination. I always find ‘off-the-beaten-track’ is closer to the traveller trails. Every traveller wants to get off-the-beaten-track and when they do they tend to be bunched together to get there. Yes it is great to escape travellers and tourism but this is extremely hard in Southeast Asia. The only feasible options when travelling alone tend to be through renting your own vehicle, hiring a driver or being bundled into a minivan with other travellers. The only purpose being – to say you’ve been off-the-beaten-track. Plus places are generally off-the-beaten-track because noone wants to go there. To actually get off-the-beaten-track, in the literal sense, you will be beating down undergrowth in an aimless direction and pointless pursuit. Unless you’re an explorer, searching for lost tribes of Indonesia, you are unlikely to find it in Southeast Asia. If looking to go where no travellers go I find it easier in big cities. Urban areas of central Bangkok likely less travelled by tourists than rural regions of Laos. Grab a map of Bangkok, find an obscure urban temple in urban, point it to a taxi driver and go. You will likely be further off the beaten track than most.
We are all Different
Everything I write is from my personality which will differ from others. Many are not suited to travelling alone yet I feel experiences and experiencing life is something to be done on your own. Reliance on others will only hold you back. The choice to follow your own path can be the hardest individual decision to make but ultimately the most rewarding. It is what YOU have to do to create your own desired lifestyle. Please don’t follow my own journey or the guidance of others to reach your personal dreams. If you want better insight to my personality I did quick online tests which show I am an introvert with slight narcissistic and schizoid tendencies. In short, I love myself, keep to myself and don’t like people (you may have guessed this from the above). Whether my personality has changed or not since travelling alone I have no idea. The strangest thing however is that Google and Wikipedia show a whole load of cures… for my personality. Like trying to take gay out of the homosexual. This does no more than force you to live like everyone else. Regardless of who you are. To me this is completely bizarre. Ignore the ‘cures’, self help and inspiration of others. Instead of trying to fit in first accept not fitting in. Be yourself and fulfill your dreams – not societies wants.