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?
It was an empowering experience; I was entirely responsible for myself as soon as I stepped out of the plane. I soon realised that I had to cope with doing most things on my own, such as finding food, planning what to see and do and many other the logistical tasks, to pave my path with new memories and experiences.
It was all worth it as I came back knowing that I’ve achieved something that I thought I never could have done, all because of having the courage to take that leap.
There are many benefits that when travelling solo, such as being forced out of your comfort zone and being more open to doing new things. I’ve tried all sorts of foods, went on spontaneous hikes, and had the courage to bathe in an onsen. Granted there have been times where I have spent days on my own and felt a bit lonely, I was able to make a positive experience out of it which makes for a good story. I’ll explain more on this in the next part.
The best thing of all when I was travelling solo was that I was definitely more open to meeting new people, both locals and like-minded travellers. I would never have been more approachable to others if I was travelling with a group or with a friend.
In Kyoto, as I parted ways with Gordon, a newfound friend I met after spending the day with him, I ran into another traveller, Louise, when buying supplies at a konbini (Japanese convenience store) on the way back to the hostel. By coincidence, we found out that were staying at the same hostel, so we decided to spend the next day together exploring the beautiful Shinto shrines, Zen gardens and Buddhist temples.
This is just one of many examples of the people I’ve met and this proves that no matter what path you choose to take, you’ll always encounter a unique range people on your adventures. I’d love to tell you all more stories but that will soon come as I write my travel memoir.
I’ve met travellers from countless countries (Japan, Korea, Sweden, France, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Algeria, Belgium, USA, Taiwan, Argentina – just to name a few) with many inspiring stories to share.
Not only has my perspective changed on the Japanese people and culture, but also on the views expressed from the travellers I’ve met on the road.
As I was in Japan during April and May, the French and Canadian elections were also held during that period, which meant that I’ve listened in on the political views of the many French and Canadian travellers I’ve spoken to during those late nights at the hostel. I also shared my opinion in British politics and Brexit since they were curious about life where I’m from.
There’s a whole range of people to meet at hostels with wonderful stories to share – you only just need that little bit of courage to approach and start a conversation. I’ve been surprisingly lucky enough to get along with everyone I’ve met at the hostels I stayed at; it’s not like at school where kids are grouped either as freaks, geeks or cool kids, but instead, everyone is grouped as travellers which create a sense of community.
Meeting new people has been such a huge highlight when travelling in Japan and it has influenced the way I approach people since coming back home. I would highly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and meet new people. The great thing is that you can do it anywhere, even in your hometown.
Thanks for reading and until next time,