Friday Firsts: Traveling Solo

Me wall beijing

Well, I went my first entire week without blogging (on this blog…). I know this is horrible thing to do in the blogging world, especially in your first 90 days. Oops. But man have I been busy.

Anywho, I am taking you on a trip to the past, and coincidentally it is about a trip. I have been doing this “traveling around the world(ish) thing” for a few years now. I have made it to 4 continents (Australia and South America I will get to you one day!) and soon will be going to my 9th Asian country – South Korea! – in a little over 2 weeks (I have done quite a few repeats to countries I have enjoyed whilst in HK).

My first ever trip abroad was to France with my high school friends. Then, when I studied abroad, I ended up traveling with 3-5 other friends to Sweden, Swtizerland, Italy, etc. Then when I moved to Lyon I went on lots of trips with new friends and people who were assistants like me. Since being in Asia I have traveled to many of the countries with some of my closest friends here and my sister. Are you noticing a pattern here? I have always traveled with other people. That was until this past May.

I remember when I first started in Hong Kong I mentioned how I would like to go to Beijing one day to see “the Wall.” My admin at the time said, “Oh you definitely can’t go to China by yourself, especially because your blonde.” I was shocked and asked why, and he replied, “Just don’t,” and walked away. Strike one. A year and a half later I mentioned that I was going to go to China one weekend and my new administrator freaked out and said, and I quote, “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO GET YOUR KIDNEYS STOLEN!” I am a tall girl (5’11) and ain’t exactly petite.  Seriously though? Strike two. Well, clearly I am a strong follower of warnings from locals and purchased tickets to Beijing, only thing was I was going alone.

I don’t like being alone. I have always lived with someone – obviously my family growing up; then I moved to college and was in a dorm, then a sorority house, then a 4-bedroom apartment with friends. In France, I lived with a host family whilst studying and had a roommate in Lyon. Since being in HK, I have always had another roommate (flatmate). I tend to have an overactive imagination and thanks to Criminal Minds I think someone is always trying to break in. So the thought of traveling alone? Nope, no way. So clearly I chose the place with scary stories to back it up to travel to for the first time – China.

Forbidden City

To be honest? It was the most liberating thing I have ever done. It is so scary to take the plane ride by yourself and enter a new country where you don’t speak the language. Sure, I have done that before when I moved to France (okay, I do speak that language) and Hong Kong, but I had someone waiting there/here for me when I arrived. This time, I had to navigate by myself and find everything on my own. It was amazing. I could do what I wanted; eat when and where I wanted; and do things at my pace. Plus, when you travel by yourself boys people are so much more willing to help you and show you around. I had boys people accompany me to the Forbidden City, the Great Wall; I was invited to join tables at my hostel for a few drinks that turned into late nights of chatting, joking, and playing drinking games. It was so nice to be surrounded by like-minded solo travelers like myself. While many were traveling with friends, there were just as many by themselves like me!

While being a girl you always have to take extra precaution when traveling, so do all who travel alone or with friends. Be smart. Don’t let people discourage you. There is a whole world out there to explore and it can be just as fun, if not more, to do it by yourself. I feel so much more independent and grew so much after those few days alone. I am not as scared to be alone anymore and can’t wait for South Korea where I am doing my second solo trip! Bring it on.

P.S. I will write a bigger write-up about Beijing another time. Stay tuned!

Have you ever traveled by yourself or done something all alone that you thought would be horrible and ended up being one of the best times in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

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