Tag Archives: solo travel

On the (few) Downsides of Traveling Alone

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So I’m on the road again, in another transitionary phase… I’ve moved out of my little abode in my beloved Portland, OR and am roaming around Arizona, NYC, and now Kauai, as I scramble to finish the biochemistry prerequisite for medical school and move to Texas in June to begin my MD/MPH. It’s been an interesting few months.

Now that we have caught up, I will point out the few disadvantages that I could come up with about traveling alone.

1. No one to share beautiful moments with (other than my glorious self, of course)

2. No one to watch my belongings while I use the restroom, swim, wander about…

3. Cost (my lodging and car rental is twice as expensive…)

4. No one to call for help when/if a rope breaks as I scramble up the side of a muddy, slippery cliff (don’t worry, I’m using my best judgment…)

5. (Most importantly at this moment in time) No one to assist in applying sunscreen, resulting in the sunburn from hell, but only on my backside…

6. Taking selfies while getting said sunburn from hell (or while doing any other various activity in a secluded location)

Other than these six considerations, traveling alone again has been fantastic and I have been getting a lot of much-needed “me time” to indulge in solo hikes and long walks on the beach. Bellisma.

(For more on traveling alone, read “The Solo Traveler“)

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2013: Reflections

Two-Thousand-Fourteen.

Twenty-Thirteen has come and gone in what feels like less than a moment. This time last year, I was lonely in Coimbatore but living passionately. It was perfect. I was shadowing at the wonderful Womens Center and running almost daily (in an attempt to ease heartache and train for my first and so-far-only race—the Coimbatore Rock n’ Run Marathon—where I ran a rocky and dusty 10 km and got fairly drunk for breakfast immediately following its completion).

What a life I have lived.

Dancing in a Cambodian Wedding Train

Dancing in a Cambodian Wedding Train

Asia was just fantastic and I have been recovering from the high since my April return (really in recovery since May, as the high lasted for at least couple of weeks). Travel really is a drug—I find myself reaching and plateauing at these sensational peaks—constantly in love with everything, everyone, and my own serendipitous and glorious existence. And the come down, the come down…It has lasted much longer than any hangover and leaves me longing for the constant engagement and stimulation that travel provides…

My return was difficult. It has been difficult. I moved into a transitional state (where I still linger) and I am someone who dislikes states of prolonged uncertainty (yet somehow, I am still in love with life and all its complexities just the same). My six months of unemployment were a lesson in humility, as my hopes and ego were shattered on a daily basis with silent rejections (I have since found a wonderful job that has proven to be a near-perfect fit for my brief stint in limbo). And then there was the reemergence of more-than-one heartache that I thought that I had left behind, somewhere in the bowels of Asia…

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On top of a mountain, looking up…

To the hum of this ambient whine, and most important to me as a person, was the task of applying, interviewing, wait-listing, and then finally being accepted into medical school. This endeavor has been with me constantly for at least the past year—even entering my mind while spacing out in the produce section of New Seasons Market—and has been the topic of hours upon hours of conversation. It has been a source of great stress and has tested my patience. Now that I have finally been accepted into a school where I feel that I will be quite happy, I breath. I have worked so hard for these things that matter most and everything is finally falling into place, like they often seem to do…

Twenty-thirteen has been a year of lessons. I was reminded that life is full of peaks and valleys, gives and takes, moments of delightful ease followed by months of challenge, that I will get through whatever is thrust before me, and still come out grateful for both sides of the experience.

[Change is inevitable and, as wonderful as it would be, life has no pause option (and I am thankful that just this past year has given me a plethora of pause-worthy experiences, so many that I couldn’t even begin to choose where to bask in the sun—or snow—for eternity)]

But I am ready for change and have been asking and working hard for more movement, wherever it takes me. Once again, I am incredibly thankful for the experiences that have allowed me to learn, love, and grow. I will continue to use these valuable tools to fine-tune my life.

May twenty-fourteen be stimulating, engaging, and full. May twenty-fourteen be exactly what we need.

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The Solo Traveler

On my travels, I have met and connected with many many wonderful people–both locals and other travelers. While forming connections with locals is somewhat difficult, it is especially easy to connect with and relate to other travelers as it takes a certain breed of person to travel, particularly when someone travels solo.

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A strange and “fragrant” Cambodian Market

In general, travelers are curious and open-minded individuals who enjoy the stretching and twisting of the mind and self that occurs when one is exposed to new and strange cultures and environments. They are often seekers of knowledge and experience and use travel as a means to expand, explore, and satisfy curiosity. It takes a certain type of person to travel, especially when one gets off the beaten path of the average packaged-holiday-tourist. Thus, when fellow travelers meet, they often have an instant, if somewhat limited, understanding of each other. After all, something drew each traveler thousands of miles away from their comfort zone to the same remote place.

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A solo motorbike ride to a remote jungle temple

While it takes a certain type of person to travel, the solo traveler is a whole different breed of person. They are fearless, and especially not afraid to be alone–quite the contrary, they relish it. They may love the company of others but traveling is almost a selfish act–and for the solo traveler–it must be. Others sometimes don’t understand us and, on many occasions, they feel sorry for our aloneness. I have been asked hundreds of times why I travel alone–as though my aloneness is perceived as a bad thing. I try to communicate my insight, telling them that traveling alone allows me to be selfish in a good way–I never have to compromise and can easily get whatever I want out of my travels. This explanation misses some of the reasons we travel alone but offers a glimpse of our mentality. However, other solo travelers understand and require no explanation. Thus, we have an instantaneous, mutual, and somewhat deep understanding and respect of each other. When I meet other lone travelers, I often feel like I’ve found kindred spirits.

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The wild and beautiful Ta Prohm Temple–Angkor Wat, Cambodia

In contemplating my “aloneness”, it occurred to me that I have never really thought about traveling with others simply because it has never occurred to me. (Despite having a blog, I am a somewhat private person. I love people, but also love retreating to my stillness.) My first trip abroad was to Spain when I was seventeen to study Spanish for six weeks. My sister participated in a similar program in the same city but I barely saw her. I have also always been somewhat of a loner and so while I did connect with a few of the other foreigners in my program, I preferred to spend my time alone, wandering through the streets practicing my Spanish. I loved the freedom afforded to me by my aloneness. If I wanted to, I could sit all day in front of a Dali painting and no one could complain. And I could also simply sit in uninterrupted silence and contemplate my life and self in new and changing surroundings. I quickly found that I could connect with and experience people and places in a way that would be inaccessible to me if I traveled with a group.

Addiction hit (rather hard) and seven years, later my passport is now full of stamps and visas of places that I have visited mostly alone. I’ve met many, many beautiful and wonderful people and my only regret is that they cannot all live in Portland.