I’ve always been one to do things on my own. Movies, weekend get-aways, shopping, even lounges. I guess one would say I have an independent spirit. When it comes to traveling there is no difference. I will travel the world by myself and think nothing of it.
As a child we traveled mostly in the summer to visit family and friends who lived in different places. As an adult I mostly travel to learn new cultures, see amazing places and meet unique people that I normally wouldn’t meet from day to day. Initially, when I started to travel far off places in the world I would go to places where I knew someone.
My first big trip was to China where my aunt lived as she was an International teacher there. She had lived in China for 3 years prior to my visit, and she told me about the exciting things she saw, and things she learned about the culture. I think it was a bit daring to take such trip, and I was more concerned about sitting on a plane for those long hours. Korean Air however was one of the most comfortable flights I had been on and made the trip less stressful than expected. The first leg of the trip was 13 hours (to Korea) and then the final lap was around 4 hours and landed in Pudong International Airport. The time difference was interesting, to say the least, but I survived. The entire process was fascinating yet liberating . . . like “look momma, I made it”. . . to the other side of the world.
Once there, I had help from my aunt who got the taxi from airport for me etc. I did my research on places I wanted to visit and see and my aunt was great company to explore with. We planned on visiting Thailand on this trip, but because of unforeseen circumstances she wasn’t able to enter Thailand with me. So here I was – in another country – on my own. Oh boy! Here we go, “you can do this Sancha,” I thought. How do I get to my hotel? Where will I go while there? how will people understand me? – heeeeeeeelp!!! After reading a few signs and asking around for details, I was on my way to an amazing hotel in a bright pink cab with a gentleman who asked a million questions. The views of Thailand were amazing, splattered all over with gold. I spent five days in Bangkok, and had an incredible time; my hotel alone was amazing – Banyan Tree hotel of Bangkok. I made my own schedule of tours, ate at some remarkable restaurants but what was most comforting, is that people tend to make friends with you easily because you may never see them again, so why not. I felt free, I felt brave and most importantly I felt it gave me time to reflect on things and clear my head and heart. I spent quality time doing what I love and felt refreshed to go back to “the real world”
After that experience I felt unstoppable! I wanted to do more, see more, explore even more places in the world. Thus, my lust for travel began. My mother’s voice sang over and over in my head . . . “The world is your oyster” she often told me, and I felt empowered to conquer it. On my return home I immediately started to research other countries to visit; near/far, it didn’t matter at this point. I did it before, I can do it again.
With my independent self I didn’t wait for that friend, but I loved the freedom it offered; it became my escape from the daily hustle and bustle. New people, a new environment, time to clear my pallet, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Travelling alone, I did not have as many distractions. I do not have to be concerned about how someone else is feeling, whether they liked or disliked the hotel, or the country or the people. My concern would not even be on entertaining them. My focus will then be on what I want to accomplish and experience. Most of all traveling alone gave me the freedom to focus on, and find more, of myself.
There is always something new and fascinating to learn in a country that you visit for the first and sometimes even second and third time. To discover new cultures teaches you about why certain people do what they are. Their customs and intricacies are unique, I find that after a day of learning on special tours or just observation, things become clear to me about where things may have originated and the puzzles and questions start to fit together. Your tolerance becomes better, as you are placed in a whole new way of functioning and even thinking. You eventually start understanding certain things about yourself . . . if you allow yourself to.
I’d say the key to getting the most out of your travel experiences is to open your mind. Open up to fresh ideas, to another way of thinking, another way of living, another way of adapting to situations, another way of becoming a more understanding human being.
NO – it’s not always about that Instagram photo, or showing off to friends that you took a dope vacation. Don’t get me wrong the photos can be amazing way of documenting the memories but what you learn and how you felt and what you end up walking away with are a million times more rewarding.
Travel far enough to meet yourself. Take a seat at the door of understanding. Join in a local ritual to gain tolerance. Explore the parts of yourself that open you up to a new perspectives and manifest that which have been waiting to be discovered.