By Jackson Hale
Hello everyone, and welcome to Forward All Inquiries. Here, we will take any question you have and answer it for you to the best of our ability. My name is Jackson. If you want to know my qualifications, a drunk man at a party once said I was like the wise old man who didn’t speak much, but when I did it was filled with wisdom.
It was a little off base, because I talk A LOT!
So, let’s go to our question.
I love traveling, and I want to travel more, but it’s hard to coordinate with other people most of the time. I want to try travelling alone, but I’m a little nervous because I’ve never done it before. Do you have any tips for travelling alone to stay safe, but also just to have a good time in general? I don’t want to feel lonely or bored if I travel alone.
Hey Sue, how are you? Both itching to get out on the road, but also reluctant to go it alone, huh? I’ve been there! Let me tell you, traveling with other people is great, because it really makes you have to trust (and/or realize how you don’t much trust) the people you are with.
Look, we all know travel is great. I’m not going to try to persuade you that you should travel or whatever. But traveling alone I think can be a completely different experience.
Let me tell you about my experiences traveling alone. I went to Kyoto for about a week, and stayed in a budget hotel for salarymen. While traveling, I was sure I would be lonely, so I brought some study materials and a guidebook in which I marked out lots of places I wanted to go. From there, I made an outline for what I wanted to do each day. I was always quiet, I tried to keep off of electronics as much as I could, and I kept a little diary so I could write down my thoughts about things.
Overall, I remember I felt much more comfortable with myself after traveling alone, but I was also super dependent on myself in order to make sure I went out on a limb to do stuff. So I personally believe it was a valuable experience.
So here are some tips!
- Don’t distract yourself too much.
Traveling alone, you won’t have a buddy to prattle on about random stuff to. As a result, you are going to be spending more time in your head, just thinking about things and observing whatever you are looking at. And while you should definitely have your cell phone handy, stay off of the social media accounts while you are doing stuff. Don’t upload pictures (take pictures please), don’t message your friends too much (but brag to them about stuff, sure) and don’t waste your time scrolling through your friends’ twitter feeds. Instead, try to really put yourself in where you are and witness it. So many of these places exist in your imagination, but when you go see it, they come alive and connect you and probably make you feel a little small or something?
The more you observe, the more perspective it will give you on your problems.
Like Carmela Soprano in this scene from the Sopranos.
(I know her friend is there, but she is there to be a foil to Carmela, and also she gets on Carmela’s nerves in the episode (you should watch The Sopranos. It’s great.).)
- Worry while planning, relax when finished
This is probably common travel stuff, but you really should make a plan. I was told that worrying is 100% ok, as long at the minute you arrive to your location you relax.
But this means, plan out what you want to do on what days you want to do it. Choose items of interest to you! If you want to go to Kobe and eat Kobe beef, plan that out. Find the restaurants that look good, and go there.
If you are traveling in Japan, you can buy little guidebooks that have walking tours of major cities. Get one of those, and you can follow the route it has for you, stopping at places that are interesting to you!
- Be introspective
The greatest gift travel gives is that is puts us in different surroundings. In those different surroundings, we are able to experiment with who we are to try on new, different types of selves. After we try them on, we can decide whether or not we enjoy them, or are not them, and then we can become new versions of ourselves.
When you are traveling alone, you don’t have another person to reflect off of, and as a result, it is easier to be blind to our different selves. So naturally, you should take the time to think about how you are being, and how it makes you feel.
So keep a diary, and take lots of pictures. Write notes about how good the cake you ate was, or how you didn’t care about lacquerware (or were super into lacquerware for some reason). Take it, and listen to what it tells you about yourself. And then embrace those things and take them home with you.
- Get a thick skin for embarrasment
There is nothing more embarrassing than standing in front of a priceless piece of history and taking a selfie.
But, when traveling alone you need to get used to embarrassment. Not just in selfies, but in going into restaurants and buying stuff. I know this is irresponsible, but if you do what you want, people won’t pay you much mind (unless you are rude, so try not to be rude).
But there are things which might make you feel very scared (like ordering food in a restaurant in a different culture). So grit your teeth and run in buddy, because the worst thing that could happen is the owner might go “wow what a weirdo” and then forget about you.
- Be safe
Note: I am a man, so I may not be the best person to ask for this question. But keep these things in mind. Stay in well lit areas, tell people where you are going, don’t go with people who you don’t know into isolated areas for whatever reason. Other than that, I have attached a list of advice! Stay safe y’all!