Hiya folks! Thank you again for taking time out of your busy day to read my latest blog post. I’ll keep it concise, informative, and inspiring. Throughout this post I will state several vital hacks, skills, and experiences I’ve learned while I was traveling. I hope that this post will continue to inspire you to travel some more, especially to help you travel more while you are alone.
I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, there is a limit to the amount of information or knowledge one person can gain through books, being in academic institutions (i.e. Uni, Graduate School) and so on, the rest comes through– living. It comes from being in the streets/mountains/ wherever, by you being vulnerable because you don’t know how to speak a certain language, and just boot strapping the current situation, regardless of how uncomfortable, frightened or confused you may feel lol!
Having said all of that, let’s get to it!
- I learned to speak up for myself.
It may seem self-explanatory, but it really isn’t. It took me a while to develop the habit of speaking up for yourself. I wasn’t brought up in a household where one could just bare their chest out whenever they wanted to lol, my culture is quiet conservative and speaking up in many instances would make you look like you’re crazy, a troublemaker, or just deranged.
However, throughout the years of being a college student who studied out of state and completed an exchange program (alone w/ my parents staying in the US) (click here to read all about it) I learned overtime how much of a great tool being able to speak up for yourself truly is!
Another bonus effect of being able to speak up for yourself, it also shows that you’re mature, you are independent, and confident in who you are. The opposite of that though, not being able to speak up for yourself, may convey that you’re immature, insecure, and still having reached certain life milestones. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but there are huge differences, pros and cons of each reality.
- I’ve learned that everywhere you travel, you may inherently be inspiring other people by your presence.
I’m not kidding here, think about it for a moment, have you ever had a stranger compliment something you had on, your hairstyle, tattoo? Or better yet, someone you semi-know tell you that you’re “so brave” or that “you’re an inspiration”? Lol, I know it’s not only me haha! But no really, for many people, you as a visitor to their country may inspire them to travel to your country or to want to learn more about your culture.
I’m not sure the psychological terminology but it is that innate human ability to see/ empathy and be inspired by one another just because we can see one another you know? Lol, I’m trying my best to not to go too deep here but to make it more personal. Throughout the time I lived in Beijing, I would have so many strangers and co-workers, doctors, etc. tell me that “you are a brave girl” or “you’re brave” or “wow, you’re cool” just because I was in China and living amongst them lol! It kind of reminds me of a memory from Thailand during a night of partying in Chiang Mai where I met 2 other black travelers/ ex-pats. We nodded at one another and briefly spoke, it’s probably the human solidarity component that I’m referring to be honest. So yeah, you just never know who you may inspire by just being you while you’re on your adventures!
- Having a smartphone will save your life
All jokes aside, I’ve mentioned in some of my posts but notably my Thailand adventure posts (click here for part 1) and (click here for part 2). How having my iPhone was necessary for me to communicate with the locals and it also was a great navigation tool that predates many of these contemporary iPhone apps. I would not have been able to travel to most of the countries I’ve traveled to without my iPhone period! Now, I am not saying that I have the latest version of an iPhone, I always have an upkept older model that’s running on the latest IOS but that’s about it the rest is common sense and street smarts.
That too is another perk of traveling, while you travel and especially if you meet strangers and locals, they will give you suggestions on where to eat, where to avoid, which apps to use etc. For instance, while I was in Japan during my 1st trip (click here to read all about it), my cool Japanese host introduced me to this life saving navigation app called Maps.me. It’s a FREE navigation map that uses GPS but no data, I hadn’t seen anything like it before.
Prior to me downloading maps.me I used to take cheesy screenshots of the places I needed to visit (i.e. museums, restaurants, parks, etc.) via Google Maps on my laptop (this was before the Google maps app was created) and store those pictures on my phone so that I could be mentally aware of the surrounding shops and as a means to not get lost. Most times that way of navigating worked but because they were screenshots and not live GPS tracking, I would oftentimes get lost lol! But yeah still to this day, I actively use that app, it was a big tool for me to use throughout my trips to Benin, Rwanda, China, South Korea, and throughout parts of the US.
- Asking for help is a sign of your strength not a weakness
This is self-explanatory. I know at first it may seem like you are weak because you are lost, or that you’re unsure of where you are going or w/e but in actuality it is a strength to be ale to ask random strangers for help. When I first started traveling, I was very introverted but super curious about foreign cultures, this predates me doing super extensive research on the place I was going to travel to lol, so I was still quiet tourist minded. (Click here to learn the differences between being a “tourist” and a “traveler”.)
Just like with many other aspects of life, as you practice asking people for help overtime, it will become second nature to you, and you will become less nervous and anxious about asking for help with just about anything. I also personally see it as a power, being able to ask for help and convince people to help you not by coercion or by threat to do something they might not want to. It’s quite profound and beautiful lol!
- Each country I travel to is unique and if I survive traveling there, I am a warrior.
This is one of the vital reward factors for me. If I travel to a place and can return to my home country without harm or without death then I won, the trip was a success! I’ve expressed this a bit in pasts posts (click here) & (click here), noting how important it is to blend into certain environment(s) and to be aware of your surroundings in general not only while you’re traveling. And how just like I mentioned in point 2 sometimes your mere presence in some spaces may make you a target by envious/ miserable locals.
Without making this point too gruesome or scary, I oftentimes come across disturbing stories where foreigners/ ex-pats have gotten raped, robbed, kidnaped, or killed due to various reasons. I’ll also attest that often their genders didn’t matter, males get rape, robbed, etc. just pointing that out there!
Out of respects to those victims, I will not name any of them but a quick Google or a Yahoo search can lead you down a spine-chilling rabbit hole to the dangers of real life.
- Conversations with strangers can create deep human bonds that may guide you.
This has to be the best rewards I get in addition to the memories I have from traveling in general—the purely human conversations I have had with many of the surfers I’ve hosted, my hosts and random people I would encounter while walking or standing somewhere lol.
As I mentioned in point 3 and just in the general theme of this post there are opportunities that will arise when you are alone or if you are curious. I’ve experienced a lot of those opportunities and they have really satisfied my being, but I am a deep thinker and am open minded so I may be biased because I like engaging in conversations. It’s not to say that because someone doesn’t like conversations or can’t speak adequately enough that they are worst off, I’m just saying that their traveling experience(s) might be boring, significantly hampered and limited. But then again to each their own, not everyone wants to be a warrior lol, but I do. =)
In conclusion, I truly hope that you enjoyed reading this post and got the feels like I did while typing it all up. I mean it foreal. I hope to help a person or two discover the freedoms that are imbedded in traveling, especially in traveling alone.