Millennials make up a generation of young entrepreneurs, start-up enthusiasts, travellers, and people who try their best to have a work-life balance. All of those things, I have tried on my own. I am part of this generation and I have already embraced it completely. We are part of a community that has the confidence and has self-awareness that we can make a change to the world. I am part of a generation that makes solo female travel possible.
The millennial in me made a decision of quitting my corporate job to travel (and work). Almost two months in and I have already learned a lot. I started travelling alone in 2015 and I always learn a thing or two (of course, more) whenever I do.
Travelling alone sounds fun, but the reality is that for a female or solo female travel, it’s a challenge. It really is. No matter how you want to go to new places, the thought that you’re a woman travelling solo has always been a concern. This fact, of course, should not stop us, girls. We can be cautious for our own safety but we should not stop moving for in a new environment, we learn new things.
Here are 9 things solo female travel has taught me:
Work On My Trust Issues
The feeling of betrayal and abandonment is something that I have been working on for years. With all the disappointments and past events in my life, I’ve been fighting the universe to let me trust again. I thought I was just being cautious until I realised that I was seeing others as deceptive and malevolent.
Solo female travel gave me the opportunity to take steps into trusting people again. It started with simply asking directions from strangers to sharing life struggles and goals.
I remember I was at Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur having my lunch and I met a girl eating alone (hello Pamela). Walking towards her was the first thing I did. I asked if I can share a table with her and the next thing we knew we were already having beers in front of the Petronas tower. I also met a guy from New York (hi Dan!) in Kuala Lumpur via Tinder (yep, I use Tinder) from New York. He was also travelling solo so we met to go around the city since we were both struggling with getting around. We were joined by his friend, Tan, and we took the hop-on-hop-off bus to roam around the city.
Liberating. That’s the word that I can think of. It’s liberating to sometimes give in and say yes. Overthinking can be unhealthy at times and I am glad that I was able to overcome this and started trusting people again.
NOTE: I consider my safety. Meeting Dan from Tinder took a lot of considerations that’s why you look for photos and profile and possible mutual connections. I just knew he’s travelling there and just in sincere need of a travel buddy.
Smart, beautiful, independent, and confident are the first impressions that I get from people. Truth be told that I never felt that way no matter how strong and confident I appear. I was always that kind of person who craves for praises or some sort of validation. I thought those were necessary for me to feel good and to have an assurance that I am doing just good.
Solo female travel taught me to be more confident in my own skin and individuality. It showed me that people are different so it’s okay to be one, too. There’s no shame in being who you are and I stopped trying to please everybody. I learned to celebrate people’s differences and individualities. Going solo taught me to embrace my flaws and still have the self-esteem that I am equally beautiful as others. Girls, we are beautiful in our own ways and that’s one of the things solo female travel have taught me.
We might hate stereotypes but we can not run away from the fact that they exist. Women are not suitable to travel alone. Only rich Asian kids can travel the world. Asian women are too conservative or close-minded. A lot more.
One thing I love about my generation, the millennials, is we break stereotypes. On my solo travels, I feel like I am breaking stereotypes. Most of the people I met along the journey couldn’t believe that I am travelling solo or in my case, travelling indefinitely. There are some who think that Asian women do not know how to have fun. Some think that when it comes to human interactions, we catch feelings easily. It’s true that we value things, people, and relationship but that does not mean that we are just sweet and caring to people just because we like them romantically. Most of us are naturally loving and caring, but some of us also believe that it’s better to catch flights than feelings.
We also need a break from stressful corporate life or after graduating from the University. It is a common thing for Europeans to take a break once they have graduated from high school before they work full-time. Can’t we do that, too? Oh, we can! We are all human beings who get tired at some point, who need to find ourselves first, who want to go to places and meet people. We are world citizens and solo female travel makes me feel that I am proving the stereotypes wrong. I can only do so much and I am no superhero but it feels so good that by taking this journey I break my own stereotypes. Girls, we can break those stereotypes being thrown to us and solo female travel is a good way to do it.
It has been two months since I quit my corporate job in the GCC. I then started working remotely with no number of hours required with a lot of tasks on queue. The thing about travelling and working remotely is one might think that you just have to choose one to be good at it. No, not at all.
Solo female travel taught me to work on my self-discipline as I was so bad at it! My tendency to give into temptations is unimaginable!
My desire to survive the life that I chose gave way to self-discipline. I always make sure that I spend time working on my tasks before I go out and explore. If I partied too much the previous night (Yeah, Bangkok has turned me into a bit of an alcoholic. LOL), I make sure to spend all day working or prevent myself from going out or just have a glass of whisky coke beside my laptop.
You see, I just don’t want to go home and I need to work my ass off to survive. I believe self-discipline is something difficult to learn and I am grateful that travelling solo provided me with the opportunity (or left me with no choice but) to finally work on this.
Listen To Others
Solely lending ears (without interrupting) was never my thing. I used to always cut in the middle thinking that it’s gonna help and I had no patience for what I thought was “nonsense”.
Meeting different people every single day lead me to finally shut my mouth and just lend ears. I came to realise that just like me, these people have their own stories and reasons on why they chose what they chose.
It feels fulfilling that at the end of every conversation, you get to receive a tight hug in exchange for listening and just non-verbals. People sometimes do not need our opinions or pieces of advice. We just need to let it out so we can lessen the burden we are carrying and keep moving.
Beauty of the World
There’s just so much in this world than what we know. Travelling opened my eyes to greater possibilities. There’s more to a destination than the touristy places. Touristy places are good. The Petronas tower is being visited for a reason, temples are wonders; these are touristy because they deserve to be. What we ignore to see is beyond those places are stories of people. Local areas will let you see how life can be different and how people do things to survive on a daily basis. I find it beautiful to see beyond the great images we post on social media., to hear stories that no one writes on the internet. The world is a lovely place.
This one is challenging. Come on! I have moved on from the guy that I loved since the university days and it took me 7 years. You read that right, 7 years! Solo travel or the long-term travel helped me to accept that there are some people and things that will just pass by our lives. At least physically. I found some great friends while travelling! We tend to like someone while travelling or get attached by having some great times but at the end of the day, you all know the lives that you choose. People come and go. I have learned to let go but not forget to treasure people and moments.
Stop Living On Others Expectations and Standards
I’ve been living my life trying to keep up with people’s expectations. Back home, you just have your life planned out. The family would decide on what university you should go to, the degree that you should get, the job that you should take, even the guy that you should marry. I might be stubborn enough to not listen to my family. I took my on way, but it was nowhere near being easy.
Exhausting is the word that would define how it feels when you feel pressured for something that you are not happy to do. Failing into something that you don’t desire is fine but you feel bad because you care for friends and family.
Travelling alone and doing the things that I want felt like I have broken free. People might not like the life I am taking but at the end of the day, I’m okay with it. I am happy. Graduating from a university, getting a good, buying properties, putting up a business, and all those things that the society tells us to do or to have are great. The thing is, we should accept that people have different lives. People have different goals thus, different sources of happiness and fulfilment. I just stopped being apologetic for the choices that I make. For as long as I don’t step on anyone and I am happy, it’s fine.
Not Let Other People’s Fears Be Projected Onto Me
It is not safe to travel alone. You won’t be able to survive roaming around for a long time having no corporate job. People might ridicule you because you are Asian and travelling solo. Do not take a long bus ride. That place is not safe.
These things are not the things I am scared of. People around me are scared of these. They were projecting their fears on me. I was scared because people around me were scared. Travelling alone helped me cope up with those and proved that there’s nothing much to be scared of.
Being cautious is totally advisable and I would recommend that myself, too. Keeping yourself from doing things you desire because the world projected fears on you is something that we can work on.
These are just a few of the things I have learned from solo female travel. I know there will still be a lot for me to learn and I am excited about it!
Have you tried travelling alone? Did you learn something? Feel free to share!