5 Things I Learnt From Traveling Alone

From a scaredy cat who's afraid of a quiet hotel room to a solo traveler who explored Taipei all by herself, I am going to share with you what I have learnt in my solo adventure in Taipei!

1. You Are Accountable For Your Own Actions
Solo adventure begins with booking your own tickets + hotel, planning your own itineraries, and deciding on your travel modes from one point to another. Taiwan was my first solo trip, and being first time travelling there, I was lost and stressed at one point since it was the first time I gotta do everything myself (Yes, I was so pampered!). I asked for suggestions on places to visit, but settled with herding suggestions from Taiwanese blogs. Well, the locals know best.

Incident: Missing (Almost) The High Speed Rail
I wasn't sure with the procedures for collecting my HSR e-ticket. I arrived just 20minutes before my train's scheduled departure to Tainan, and was shocked to know that I needed to wait at the 30+pax queue for the ticketing machine (when all along I could retrieve the tickets at 7-11!). After 15mins of queuing, I wasn't able to collect tickets due to some code error (double panic!). After the suave HSR staff assisted me in issuing the tickets, it was another 5mins of fast and furious rush with my huge luggage to dash through 8 cabins before I reached my seat, just 1min before departure.

There I am, after some serious panting and sweating (at the forehead), blocked strategically with my bangs).

PS: Oh ya! Being a meddle-head as usual, I left my room key at the door for consecutively 2 nights! -.-"

Realisation: If I were to travel with someone else, the frustration might be doubled, unhappiness might be doubled. Since I'm traveling alone, the only reaction was, "Phew! I made it!".

2. You Set The Rules, Because You Have The Freedom To
I worked around my own budget, taking EVAair ($553) and staying in a fuss-free hotel (cheap: $200 for 3 nights) at Ximending. If I were to travel with someone else, I might need to compromise with a budget airline and a bigger hotel room (which cost more). I get to sleep (3am) and wake up (10am) anytime I want, with no nagging on why I should sleep earlier, wake up earlier, prepare faster, blah blah blah.

What I Enjoy: Taking My Own Sweet Time To Bath And Have Perfect Makeup
I usually gotta rush through these steps because I always get judged by how perfect I want my makeup to look, even on a holiday. A good makeup and outfit dictates my mood for the day, and I would love it to be perfect, especially so, during my holiday.

Realisation: OTOT (own time own target), never need to work around others' preferred schedule.

3. You Get To Meet New People
I heard stories about meeting new people and making friends during solo trips, especially when they stayed in hostels, and start blabbering with locals/other tourists about their interesting cultures and experiences. Well, I didn't want to engage in any conversation for long with anyone else because I was set at being at peace, alone.

What Happened: What's better than meeting new people? Rekindle with old one!
While I was at lost in Jiufen, getting panicky (silently) because of the confusion about the transport mode to Shifen for sky laterns afterwards, a familiar voice called out my name! It was a pleasant surprise to meet up with my Secondary School classmate, Lynette, after leaving school 11 years ago! With no contact at all for 11 years, I was amazed by our chemistry during the trip in Jiufen and Shifen after I was invited to join her with her 4 friends. As I wasn't planning on going to Jiufen initially, I was glad that I have someone who know where and what to do at Jiufen, so I wouldn't have wasted the trip. That brought me to the next lesson...

Realisation: It brought me smiles whenever I thought about the coincidence that can happened 4000km away from home. I had a great trip, thanks to Lynette and her friends!

4. Being Surprised Is The Only Constant
Firstly, I was surprised with the level of courage and independence that finally made the solo adventure happened, and I was surprised that even though I get bored and frustrated at how lonely I felt during the first night at Shinlin Night Market, I pulled it through, and I enjoyed myself totally!

What Happened: Wander To Discover Another Side Of Ximending
I didn't know that the shops at XMD opens only in the afternoon, thus, I was wandering around the area at 11+am, trying to find interesting things to do on my 2nd day. Tadah! Surprise surprise! I discovered walls after walls of awesome graffiti just outside the main street!

Here's the fierce and determined looking Daruma who shouted "Gambatte!" to all our dreams!

I was in awe by all the art pieces with different themes!

They are even found covering the whole building wall!

Realisation: Open your heart, open your mind, and embrace the surprises that might be the most memorable things you could experienced during your trip!

5. You Buy Experiences, Not Things
I brought my 30kg-sized luggage to Taiwan, having high hopes that I would have tons of clothes, accessories and whats-not to filled it! But I came back to Singapore with a 17kg (up from 10.4kg) filled with some Taiwanese snacks and knick knacks.

What Happened: A Title Of An Article Opened Up My Mind
After the bad experience at Shinlin Night Market (it was crowded and filled with repetitive food choices), I was feeling quite down because I got nothing to buy back as souvenirs, nor clothes that was worth buying at WuFen Pu. I got bored, and started scrolling Facebook on the Taipei Metro, and chanced upon the article titled "You Buy Experiences, Not Things". Without reading the article, I already know what it was trying to say. So I took photos and videos of almost everything during my trip. The experiences, memories and photos were the best souvenirs I could have.

Realisation: You can throw away rusty keychains, you can throw away old clothes, but you will never throw away memories which travelling has brought to you.

I hope this article gave you some ideas on what's traveling alone is like. I enjoyed my trip and I am inspired to travel around the world, one city at a time. Hope to see you at some corner around the world soon!