Experience the world alone
Before the National Day holiday, I texted my friend Nora as I planned my next trip. Sadly she replied me with a crying emoji. “Sorry, I may spend the seven-day holiday at home,” she replied. “Do you feel like travelling with me during the holiday?” I texted another friend, Huizi. “I need to return to my hometown,” she replied.
Although refused by my friends, I don’t want to waste the holiday doing nothing. So I opened my laptop and booked a return ticket to Hong Kong and a bed at a youth hostel. All settled. When I told everyone that I actually decided to travel alone, they seemed quite taken aback by that idea. “I would never think of it,” said one. “If I had to travel alone I’d rather cancel my trip,” responded another.
Traveling alone for many Chinese is the last thing they want to do, but I think it is indulgent and I love it. My first solo trip was five years ago, when I caught a flight from Nuremberg to England. I spent an evening watching King Lear in London. I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower on my own, too! I have walked through the Brandenburg Gate on a gloomy weekday afternoon alone. If I waited until others were available, I would have missed out on these adventures.
In fact, you are never alone on a solo trip. Even if you start off alone, by the end of the day you will make many friends on the road, because traveling alone forces you to turn to other people for help who you would never have had the chance to talk to if you were with friends.
My trips are always more fun because of the time I spend with these strangers. Traveling alone also helps avoid negotiations, compromises and even fights with your travel mates. What time to wake up, where and when to eat, the ratio of activities versus rest time... all this can be decided by yourself. There’s no one to tell you which direction to go, drag you into stores or push you to hurry up. Want pictures? Take as many as you can. Want to sip coffee and people-watch? Do it.
The greatest value of a solo trip is personal growth. Each time you go somewhere by yourself, you become a little bit more independent, sophisticated and accomplished from each decision you take and each friend you make. Don’t let others keep you from experiencing the world.