5. Santiago and the lone rangers

Travelling alone. I have read many blogs and stories about lone female travelers. It’s all the same. We all start with anxiety, then realise we are never truly alone. My favorite part is that you can be whoever you want to be.

However I am truly alone. Right now. At this moment in time. For good reason.

When you move from place to place it is easier to be on your own as you move faster and it is a lot less stressful. No responsibility. The dream.

Decided in August 2016 that I would not live in the UK any longer. December was the beginning of my time abroad. In January I set off backpacking. Alone. It is the best thing I have done. Everyday gets better and better. Sometimes I wonder if there is a limit to how happy a person can be? Is it too good to be true?…nope. There is no limit and it is truth.

This is not the first time I have been alone. 4 years ago I ran away to Spain and traveled alone for the first time. I was at 21. I hitchhiked alone here. Had good and bad experiences. I will tell you one story, further down.

Below is my essential packing list for lone travelers. 45 liter backpack only people! you don’t need more.

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When departing the UK I was not afraid, not anxious, I felt nothing. I was numb. It felt like a normal day. I was getting on plane and heading to Bangkok. I was comfortable, so there was no need to be afraid. I had a row to myself, was given a LOT of food. Treated like a princess as I was one of only 2 women on my section of the plane. It was quite empty. Kuwait airlines. It was bliss, I was able to breath in my own space, do as I pleased with no one to care or judge me. I had not researched anything about Asia, had no plan or itinerary. I live my life like this, no commitment. Makes being a lone traveler easier. Learned this from my time in Spain.

My current location while writing: Cambodia, Siem Reap: Bliss

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I have felt anxiety out here. When I landed in Bangkok it was scary. Such a big city. I am use to city life but this was something else. When joining the hostel world I was afraid. Afraid no one would talk to me. Afraid I would not made friends, I needed people at this point. This was so stupid thought as I talk a lot and usually approach people first. But we all feel it. I checked-into a quiet hostel away from Kosan Road and that is where I met my first travel buddy, Kira.

From then on I was never alone, not even for 10 minutes…well…until now.

It’s human nature to be afraid. We are wired that way. Conditioned to be part of a group, to have allies and enemies. Travelling alone changes that. Your learn that there are no real enemies, you have no real allies. The only person you can count on is yourself to make a different to any given situation. People can help but only you can change your outcomes. 17426293_1223322184448491_4948542536638036136_n

I have had many travel buddies for weeks, and one even months. Sometimes I longed for alone time but after a few hours craved conversation. I have spoken to over 560 people approx. I would average out to about 5 new people a day for the past 4 months. Over 200 new Facebook friends. Nearly 100 new IG followers. You get the jist, you meet a lot of people.

Being a lone traveler is special because you make your own rules, you decide what you do, where you want to go and if you want to leave you can. Sometimes I would leave without saying goodbye to anyone. Pack my bags and disappear. I like to do this because I don’t like saying goodbye. There is no real point as I tended to bump into people again and again.

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It is not all fun and games though. Sometimes you get in sticky situations haha that’s why it is good to make friends. I was lucky to have a brilliant little family in Hanoi who helped me a lot during a difficult time recently, they will never really know just how much they helped me by just being themselves. Their stories, dramas and experiences made me remember why I am out here. In Cat Ba Island I also met two very special men who also helped me when I lost my debit card. They trusted me even thought I had only known them a day.

When you travel alone you realise how kind people can be. I have been so lucky as everyone I have met has treated me well. Be kind always as your actions can have huge consequences, some good some bad. I learned this in Spain. The story below is pretty crazy.

Be kind always!

**Jessie** picked me up when I was hitchhiking to Seville. She seemed nice, I was grateful for the ride. 20 minutes into the 5 hour drive we had been laughing, talking about our experiences at University. She was an artist, I was an Au Pair. She told me about her family, her favorite food, music and her hobbies, cycling was her main passion after art. I was on my way to meet a friend in Granada and had a ride sorted via BlahBlah car from Seville. As we continued to talk I notices her hands shaking. I dismissed this as excitement as she was talking about her passions. But an hour in I notices she was driving faster and faster. Then she told me about Santiago. Her 8 year long relationship. She told me that they were on and off for the past few months.

A few hours prior she was cross country cycling when all of a sudden she fell off her bike while clutching her heart and collapsed. A stranger went to her aid, picked her up. She asked them to hold her. She told me she cried and cried, something in her heart was broken. She said she could not call anyone but she knew something bad had happened. It was as if part of her has died. I asked her what happened next. She said she drove to her flat in Cacares which she shared with her ex boyfriend to find him in bed with another woman. He then explained to her that he had met someone else and they wanted to start a relationship. That day her 8 year relationship ended. That day she got in a ca. That day she picked me up. That day she wanted to give up.

I wish I never knew, I wish I never asked. At that moment I wish I had not gotten into the car. I felt terrible for her. I shared with her my story, tried to make it sound a little like hers she wound’t feel alone but it didn’t work. Next thing you know she takes a deep breath and lets go of the wheel, on the motorway, closes her eyes and whispers something I could not understand.

I could see she was in pain, and at this moment she was giving up. I felt the blood drop from my face as I realised what she was about to do. I grabbed tissues, took the wheel. l She still had her foot on the decelerators so I knew I had a chance to change her mind but I could see she was ready to let go.

I was scared, I thought we were going to die, at that moment I was grateful for my ex because I use to sometimes take the wheel while we would light a cigarette while driving or while peeing in a  bottle (he did this sometimes on long road trips). I begged her not to take her foot off the peddle. Told her that I went through something similar, told her that I left the UK and was travelling, told her about my kids as an Au Pair, told her I was in pain too but that there was more to life, reminded her about her family. Told her that I would help her and always be there. I meant it too and she could see that. After what felt like forever she wiped the tears off her face. took the wheel and continued. All that lasted only 5-10 minutes but in my head it felt like hours. My arms were aching and my heart was beating 100 miles per hour.

The rest of the journey is a blur, we spoke a lot. I wanted to get out of the car but I froze. I was afraid she would try it again so I kept my mouth shut. We never addressed what happened. I learned that day that you have to be calm and kind always because really, if i had of shouted or shown fear I think we would not be here today.

To this day I remain faithful to my promise. To this day I am still her friend. She ended up leaving Spain, Au pairing abroad. She changed her life. She is now happy with someone else. Had she been alone I think she would have gone through with it. This story gave me a purpose. I was grateful to have been with her.

Back to being alone

I wrote a long details paragraph but realised I cannot preach to those who have not ever been alone. You need to do it for yourself to truly understand. It is important to have you time because life is really damn short and if/when shit hits the fan it is important for you to be independent to be able to tackle any difficult situation that comes your way. Even taking a weekend away alone is enough. It’s a great way to meet people, to gain confidence, to learn to deal with stress, to relax, to be happy, to sort your shit out, to really learn about humans and to learn about yourself.

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4/5 months into my Asia trip.

I have been alone now for a few days. I arrived in Siem Reap and needed time out. Real time out. I didn’t speak to anyone for a good 2.5 days. I had had a bad taxi ride here. Spoke too much to the driver, allowed him to open up to me and he misunderstood the situation. From that moment on I wanted to be silent. To just write and read and be truly alone. I wasn’t sad, more liberated as I could concentrate on me.

Eventually I befriended an American lad and a few others. We have all been travelling for a long period of time, spoke about books, girls, boys, food and had a laugh. We were all alone, but knew we were never really alone. After our group chat we all went about our business not worried about staying together as we knew if we needed to we could find each other and chat again. No names were exchanged, no ages were revealed. We had an inner understanding, there was no social pressure to form a group, no need to become best friends, just an introduction in case any of us needed each other during our stay here.

Being a lone traveler has changed me. I try never to judged people, my mum taught me not to, I trust everyone, it’s their prerogative of they wish to betray me and I try to be kind always. But I have learned to forgive and forget. Learned to accept shit happens. I let go of problems and trying to concentrate harder on building relationships, long terms relationships.

These changes are common. My personality remains the same, my outlook remains the same but my theory on relationships has changed. I realised there are a lot of people I wish to remain friends with forever. I am no longer a free flowing nomad, I now understand the importance of friends, real friends, long term friends. I also learned the importance of honesty, about the way you feel because sometimes you meet people you will never see again. Not had the guts to be 100% honest yet but getting there. 100% honestly is the beauty that comes with being yourself. If people do not like it then can leave. If you don’t like someone you can leave.

I tell everyone this. It isn’t often in life you meet genuine people, when you do, hold onto them.

If you are afraid of being alone. Don’t be. There are more of us out here and we are always looking out for you. Come find us if you need us 🙂 if not then enjoy the freedom of your own company 🙂

I have no inspiration for my next post yet. I want to tell a funny story, if you know of one remind me please. Peace out ❤

 

 

 

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