On solitude and my top 5 places for traveling alone. Yes, alone.

Play me first.

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Alone.

One of the most feared words in human history. I bet you cringed when you read that.

Alone. Yea you cringed again too.

We live in a world where shows, movies, magazines, television sets tell you that being alone is bad. They tell you that you need to have a man or woman to be somewhat content with your life. That you constantly need people to go anywhere, from the bathroom to a different country alone. Because if you’re alone just sitting there, eating at a restaurant, traveling somewhere, well apparently you’re a loser. An undateable loner, a socially awkward freak of nature, you might as well be a mutant with eight arms and one eye. That’s close to the image portrayed right?

I’ve had my qualms with being alone. From being alone romantically, to being alone in my bed, to being alone in a restaurant, to being alone just, anywhere. I was too scared to face myself. I was too scared to be with myself, I couldn’t stand it. And this ultimately stemmed from not loving myself, not being happy with who I was, and constantly relying on others for happiness. That’s why I was so terrified of being alone. Traveling alone anywhere wasn’t even an option. It was my biggest fear and it held me back from pursuing everything I’ve ever dreamt of.

That was a few years back, everything has changed for me then. I’ve learned to love myself, and still learning. I’m happy with the person I’ve become and will continue to grow into the person I want myself to be. I no longer rely solely on others for happiness, because I found it within myself. And last year I embarked on my first journey alone in a foreign country. The truth is, there is boundless freedom in traveling alone and it’s not as dangerous as you perceive it to be. Everything that people warned you about will do nothing but hinder you. You just need to be smart with your decisions, trust your instincts, and be careful when traveling alone. The dangers out there are on the same degree as in your own city, so don’t let the illusions society has create on traveling alone fool you.

Everything is in perception. You get what you give out and if you’re giving our a lot of fear, you’ll attract the worst. If you come into a place with a sunny disposition, a humbling attitude, and high spirits, the universe will guide you and lead you to happy circumstances.

Sole Sisters Lois, Adi, and Lauren listed their Top 5 Destinations for Solo Travel. Here’s a few places that took a piece of my solo wandering heart.

1. Pai, Thailand

Take a 5-hour minibus ride from Chiang Mai. Step into an alternate universe. A hippie town nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand. It’s where you’ll find dreads, hippie pants, Thai Jack Sparrow, artists, musicians, people with peace in their hearts, and a kind of gravity that will keep a part of your heart in, no matter where you go. There’s something about this town that will turn you into a free spirit, if you weren’t already one to begin with. Find a home in Spicy Pai, a hostel made of huts sitting in a rice field. I met the perfect people at the perfect time in that place. Find freedom in riding a motorbike or scooter, or at least ride on the back of one. It’ll take you to the most beautiful sceneries you’ll ever see. Discover infinity in the valleys and mountains, explore caves, jump and slide down waterfalls. Find yourself in the the land crack, where you can sit down and eat delicious potatoes, tamarind, banana chips, hibiscus fruit drinks, and passion fruit in exchange for a small donation towards people with kind hearts and beautiful smiles. Melt your bodies into the hot springs. Get intoxicated with your new friends from all walks of life and all corners of the worlds, and go out to the bars with them. Meet more awesome people and hula hoop your way through the streets. I’m warning you, once you set foot onto this place you’ll find it very hard to leave. And when you do leave, you’ll leave your heart somewhere in the land cracks, the waterfalls, the valleys, the motorbike rides, the rice fields, everything that this town is made of, seen and unseen, including the people you’ve come to love.

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2. Thai Islands

It’s notorious for partying, but there’s so much more. There’s always so much more. Go to Koh Tao and spend lazy days on the beach and float in the turquoise waters. Or live on the edge and swim with sharks in Shark Bay (something I wish I did but didn’t have enough time left to do, or the courage yet, so I took the raincheck). Spend a couple days in Koh Phi Phi to go island hopping. No matter how cliche and touristy it is, see Maya Beach. Despite all the tourists, it’s still unreal. Spend most of your time in Railay Beach. Accommodations here are more expensive, stay at pricey bungalows if you have to, but it’s worth it. Rockclimb as often as you can, as high as you can. Go to Phranang Cave Beach early morning, before the influx of tourists come. Set yourself afloat and look up at the caves above you. Close your eyes and pretend you’re the sea itself. Swim inside the caves, climb to the top of the cliff and be careful. Then jump off. Do it over and over again until the fear goes away and freedom seeps in completely.

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3. Palawan, Philippines

Get lost in as many islands possible. You can’t go wrong with either El Nido or Coron. But please, go to Palawan. The islands are so beautiful you’ll forget that you’re human. Swim through lagoons, swim inside a cave and live that childhood dream of becoming a mermaid. Kayak across the sea to the nearest island. Jump into the ocean, lay out in the sand, and climb the trees on the beach after. Eat as much seafood and slimy sea weed as you can. Swim through Kayangan Lake, one of the clearest lakes in the world. Find the soul connection in the magic vibrating all around you.

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4. La Fortuna, Costa Rica

I was actually with a friend when I went here, but Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world for solo travel. Take a bus from San Jose to the town of La Fortuna, where you’ll find the Arenal Volcano. Go zip lining across the rainforest, hovering over waterfalls and trees with monkeys and sloths. Yell as loud as you can, conquer your fear. Go hiking across the jungle, around the volcano, into the wild where the snakes, jaguars, and ocelots roam freely. Jump in the waterfalls. Go in the hot springs at night and stargaze while floating in the water. Drink with your hostel mates, connect with people from all over the world, ones who you’ll build strong friendships with. Walk around town, play with the local children, kill the language barrier with kindness, laughter, and gratitude.

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5. Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Cross the bridge from Costa Rica to Panama. Take a boat to Bocas Del Toro. Stay at a waterfront hostel. Ride a bike around town. Go to Red Frog Beach and dig your feet into one of the best sands you will ever set foot on. Go to Zapatillo Key Island and snorkel its vibrant reefs. Lay out in the sand, let the waves kiss your body. Watch dolphins from your boat, snorkel around the reefs some more. Ride water taxis, be in the moment, smile when you say your rode a water taxi, you don’t say those kind of things often. At night, mix apple juice with vodka and lime, share with hostel mates, go out and dance the night away. Preferably with a good Latin dancer, if not, dance anyway.

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So whether it’s going to the restaurant, eating by yourself, delighted in each bite of your meal in utter peace and solitude. Or losing yourself in the crowds of Coachella, finding your way to Bon Iver and crying to every single word of his songs. Buying garlic fries and making your way through the crowds alone, sharing it with people you end up making friends with. Sitting in a movie theatre crying alone as you watch the film version of the book that defined your teenage years, letting it move your soul. Or dancing alone at a club in San Francisco, listening to Shlohmo live with your eyes closed, smiling while shrugging your shoulders to the beats. Or embarking on your first epic journey alone to a country you’ve never been to, or stargazing alone on top of your car, or just sitting alone on a cliff as you watch a flock of seagulls pass by. Feel the intrinsic connection, feel the energy, the oneness that leads you to the truth that we’re never actually alone. 

Revel in all of it.

Be brave. Be alone. Be happy, feel it inside, radiate it out. And use those eight arms and that one eye wisely.

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84 thoughts on “On solitude and my top 5 places for traveling alone. Yes, alone.

  1. Beautiful! I’ve hit 2 of the 5 and I’m currently in Thailand so I will take your advice and hit the 2 places you recommend here. I’ll just need to make it to the Philippines some day. 🙂

      • On October 3, thirty high shocol students from Mount Si’s Key Club visited the homes of two elderly folks in North Bend. Armed with gloves, garden tools, and determination ..they set out to offer assistance to these homeowners where the labor had simply become too big an obstacle. The students split and stacked firewood, trimmed overgrown bushes and hedges, brought garden beds back to objects of beauty, raked leaves, and filled an enormous trailer with discarded and rotting lumber that was taken to the dump. The best part of this endeavor was the smiles and hugs given by the homeowners to these high shocol Key Clubbers. That so many showed up at their homes to Pay it Forward was overwhelming and one of the most heart-warming experiences I have seen. Way to go Mount Si Key Club!

  2. Every time I read your posts I feel the adrenaline rush and goosebumps in each and every bit of my body. Although all my trips were short and alone, I always used to end up searching for happiness in the exterior things but after reading this post I realized that happiness should come from deep inside and it doesn’t depend on the exterior things which are just temporary.

    Thanks for the beautiful post.

    Vishnu

  3. Beautiful! I agree that fear is the largest factor in holding people back from accomplishing their dreams, be it travel, a job promotion, buying a house, etc. Fear is a huge limiter, but facing it can make the successful endeavor that much more meaningful. When it comes to traveling alone, there’s no better way to discover who you are, who you want to be, and become that person. There’s nobody to hold you back. If you want to laze on the beach all day with a book, do it. If you want to hike a mountain and watch the sunset, do it. If you want to meet locals or fellow travelers, put yourself in a position to do so. The ball really is in your court when you’re alone, and I find it such a huge growing experience. Each time I travel alone, the alone-ness feels a little further away.

  4. i travel alone but i don’t stay that way for long….i pick up friends along the way 🙂

    been to thailand numerous times but you gave me a new goal….you feed my soul and take it to places i forgot existed…you’re bad for my specific case of wanderlust, though, hahaha.

  5. I just love the magic I feel every time I read your article other than that I bacame more in love with my country. So this coming year, no more international flights for me. Thanks for sharing the beauty of the Philippines. 🙂

  6. What was the movie version of the book that inspired you as a teenager? I could guess but I’ll look forward to hearing it from you…

    I just discovered this blog from the HE article. Amazing. I’m so itching to go travelling but really scared about throwing away my career and ending up with nothing and no home. It’s a difficult choice.

    • The Perks of Being A Wallflower

      Thanks for the kind words, all I can say is just follow your goosebumps and do whatever makes you the happiest. Fear is an illusion, goosebumps and bliss is real.

  7. It took me quite a number of years to realize alone is a good word and it makes me happy frequently to be alone. Going it alone allows you to do what you want when you want where you want. I think people confuse alone and loneliness. They are two totally different experiences.

  8. Fantastic post! Thanks for sharing! I took my first trip alone last year and it ended up being a great experience! It’s good to read I’m not the only one even though I suspected.

  9. Pingback: 16 Most Important Things Every Woman Should Learn | infinite satori

  10. Great post! Last August, I traveled alone for the first time in my life – I traveled through Italy and France over the course of six weeks and it was such a life-changing experience. I spent most of 2013 practising self-love and traveling alone was a huge part of that – loving myself, being my own best friend and stepping out of my comfort zone. I can’t wait to have more solo travels and I’d encourage everyone and anyone to try it – especially women. People seem to have this fear that women should never travel alone… what a load of crap!

  11. This sounds like an amazing thing to do alone and challenging also, but can you tell me in what time a year its best to travel these countries? If I want to avoid as many other turists as possible and still get the nice weather and all?

  12. I love your posts. I love your blog. I can feel the positive energy just by reading your work. Keep up your amazing writing and photography. You reach a place in people’s hearts that most can never do.

  13. Googled for “Places to find yourself” and this was exactly what I was looking for. After struggling with depression and self-doubt for years I’m finally starting to find myself and believe in Me. I love travelling and what better way is there to discover yourself and the world than embarking on an epic journey all by yourself? I’ve been longing for adventure and excitement for a long time and so I’ve decided to go on a trip this coming fall but I’m struggling to determine my destination. This post gave me some great inspiration and who knows, I might just end up in one of the places you listed. Anyway I just wanted to say thanks and let you know how much I appreciated this post!

  14. I really love your posts and traveling is definitely something I enjoy but (and sorry if this is personal, you don’t have to answer) how do you find the money for it? Just one trip costs so much and I don’t think it would be possible for me to visit as many as you have so far. Do you just save a lot? Also, great blog!

  15. This was an amazing read. With all the changes I have encountered this year I believe it is time to reflect on me. Self love! What better way to rediscover me than spend time with myself and travel. I’m encouraged and so ready to buy my ticket! Thanks Again…

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