Solo Travel – Meeting New People

Since I’ve been posting about Japan quite a lot, this post will focus more specifically on my first-hand experience of solo travel. This is the second part of my series giving my full and honest opinion on the idea of solo travel, hoping that it can help you to decide whether or not it’s right for you. You can read the first part here: Solo Travel – Deciding To Go It Alone.

Part 2: Meeting New People

[The featured image is of the Kamo river that I was walking along after parting ways with a newfound friend and before being introduced to another friend at a konbini in Kyoto.]

It felt weird leaving home, boarding a plane and heading off to an unknown country, all on my own.

An adventure it was and it’s something I’d definitely like to try going solo again perhaps in a more challenging country.

So, what’s it like to travel alone?

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Post-Travel Blues: Back To The 3-hour Commute

It’s already been now a month since I came back from Japan. Where did all that time go? I can remember almost everything so vividly during my 3-week trip and yet I cannot remember what I had for breakfast last weekend.

The past month has been hard adjusting back to, although 3-weeks in Japan is relatively short compared to other travellers going on 3-month, 6-month or even year-long trips.

I never thought post-travel blues was a real thing after coming back from my first proper trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2014. I did expect I’d feel the same way after Japan, but this is on a different scale.

[The featured image is of a Buddhist monk that I have encountered when exploring Tō-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan.]

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Solo Travel – Deciding To Go It Alone

Since I’ve been posting about Japan quite a lot, this post will focus more specifically on my first-hand experience of solo travel. I’ll split this mini-series into multiple parts, giving my full and honest opinion on the idea of solo travel, hoping that it can help you to decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Part 1: Deciding to Go It Alone

Solo travel has been on my mind for some time after the events that occurred during my A-Level exams; being hospitalised has not only affected me physically but also mentally and socially since it was the end of college and most of my classmates were going to university. More people were coming out of my life than in. I never got the social opportunities in my apprenticeship as I would if I went to university. I wanted to do something about it and rejuvenate and restore myself.

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Solo Travel Japan – Here I come!

I head out on my solo adventure to Japan tomorrow! There’s been so much excitement but also more nerves nearing the day of departure. There has, however, been a change that struck me earlier this week as I do not know what I’ll be coming back to when I arrive back home in early May.

To put a long story short, I’m being moved to a different project because of a significant reduction in work for the coming months. As a result, I’ve been given my 30-days notice earlier this week and I will have to be assigned to another project on my return from Japan. I am still working for the same company as an apprentice but there are a limited amount of available projects at my current work location which has led to me possibly being moved all around the country and not close to home. Staying at hotels during the week is not something I will want to do, so this has limited my available options. But this has made the process more stressful as I need to get this sorted and accept a project before I leave on Wednesday, otherwise, I do know what I am coming back to on my return.

I want to make sure that this situation does not affect my travels in Japan but it is difficult not to ignore. I’ll just do my best and enjoy the trip as much as I can.

Apart from that, I’ve been very busy, hence the late post, doing packing and further research on my destination. Tomorrow’s the big day so I will share my finalised itinerary and budget before I depart:

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Japan Packing List

So I promised a while back to post a list of what I’ll be taking on my travels to Japan. Although I wanted to choose the minimalist approach to travel packing from reading a bunch of blog posts about it, I want to understand for myself so I learn from my mistakes.

When I went to Vietnam and Cambodia, I took a 75L rucksack and 30L daysack with me and I thought that the size was perfect as I had space for souvenirs and team kit. I’d like to downscale this time and take a 66L rucksack and 18L daysack and fit the daysack in my rucksack when I’m going from one location to the next.

At first, I couldn’t believe that people can spend a month comfortably carrying everything in a 40L rucksack or less, but I now know that it very much possible. However, I do not think it is worth the investment just yet as I want to use what I own already without spending further money.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ll be taking to Japan:

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A Broken Key and Delhi Belly in Phnom Penh

This is an extract of my adventures in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of a school expedition, back in the summer of 2014.

It was our final in Vietnam! Back in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, we visited the War Remnants and Independence Palace. We stopped by a BBQ restaurant afterwards that displayed a poster with colourful and exotic drinks so we decided to go in and order some non-alcoholic drinks. As we were there and the menu looked promising, we decided to book a reservation at their restaurant in the evening.

As we were wandering around the streets, we managed to get lost and couldn’t find our way back to the hotel; team member insisted that we are going the right way but this led to heading to the outskirts of the city, next to the highway. When we made our way back, we had a bit of free time to explore the markets and buy some souvenirs. We were then to meet at the rendezvous point near a McDonalds before we headed to the fancy BBQ restaurant we had our drinks in. Surprisingly, the McDonalds we passed looked fancier than the BBQ restaurant we were going to.

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Should you do an Apprenticeship?

Coincidentally, as I was planning to create this post, it’s actually National Apprenticeship Week. It’s coming to that time to decide what to do after you complete your GCSEs at secondary school or A-Levels (or equivalent) at college. Most people will think that the route after GCSEs is at college, and the route after A-Levels is at a university. There are many alternative options that are just as good, if not, better.

After completing my GCSEs, I followed the crowd and joined the Sixth form College attached to my secondary school. Most people just go with the flow and will not even consider other options.

Biggest Mistake: I didn’t do enough research.

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Japan: JR Pass and Data Sim Acquired!

As I’ve made more progress on my solo travel plans to Japan, here’s another update on what I have done:

Literally, 10 minutes ago, I have only gone ahead and bought my Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)! I budgeted for a price of £400 GBP  for a 21-day JR Pass and I managed to get one for £399 from Japan Experience. Although I could have waited a bit longer for the GBP-JPY exchange rate to improve on XE Currency Converter, I have been getting quite stressed, having to keep an eye on the exchange rate all of the time, so since it is within my initial budget, I just counted to 5 and went ahead and bought it. And you know what? I feel very relieved now that my biggest expenses are now out of the way. More relieved than when I bought my airline tickets, in fact!

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