I love using my mountaineering bags, prepping my camera, creating itineraries, matching airline tickets endlessly, checking the latest exchange value vs various foreign currencies and just about anything that leads me to marveling at wonderful places.

Solitude. The moment that you're all by yourself and everything just feels right. On a negative note though, it is the state of isolation. I have always been comfortable with this thing ever since the world began.

I was never scared of doing stuff alone nor spend the day all by myself. And for some odd reason, at times, it’s empowering, well at least for me. After all, without this so called time for yourself, you'll never hear what your soul is trying to tell you.

Way back August of 2014, I didn't have the slightest idea that this fearless aspiration of mine is coming to life. Recalling this “foolishness” (as what many people think about travelling solo), without much thinking, I booked a ticket to Kuala Lumpur and I just knew, this is really it. I am flying alone. I am going to be in a foreign place, alone.

A few days left before my flight, I thought I was losing it. My nerves were all over the place and I was getting scared by the minute. What got me to go through with it was the realization that I'd never forgive myself if I let this chance slip away. This was a big dream of mine ever since and I'm not gonna let this go.

I want to make things happen for me. I was never the type that sits and waits fervently for my dreams to come true. During this first ever solo travel of mine, there are a few things I learned and I want to make sure I have written them all down as I don't want to lose this memory ever and hopefully, inspire others.


1. You Need to Put the Effort In

You will never be able to live your dream unless you work hard for it and make things happen for you. Do not ever rely on luck, get up and work hard for it.


2. Homesickness is Normal

I never want to leave my family. I just traveled for a few days and yet, I missed home so bad. I was even excited on my way to the airport back to my home country. Even worse, I felt super frustrated when my flight got delayed, talk about timing huh?


3. No Country is Perfect

There is always the good and bad in every country. Even the bestest of the bestest countries, I bet, have their imperfections.


4. Keep Souvenirs for Memories

I am a sentimental person.

I love memories and looking back at those. I kept every single plane, train and bus ticket, I even had a small notebook where I can write stuff every now and then.

I'd like to read my adventures after 5 years and know exactly how I felt way back I got lost in the city or when I rode the wrong bus and ended somewhere else.

It's when you get asked a question from your escapades and you exactly know what to say or where to find those little mementos if your loved ones ask you.


5. You'll Reaslise How Lucky You Are

I am fortunate to be in a certain place and will always be thankful for it.

I have a healthy body with a strong heart and two fully functioning legs that can walk kilometers and have the sense of sight so I can marvel at the wonderful places, I have a full time job that keeps my travel eagerness alive, I have my loved ones who love me and support me in all the things I do and so on.

It always boils down to counting small blessings. One can never be happy if life's meant to be measured by the bigger things.


6. Utopia Does Exist

When I go and see the other parts of the world, I feel like everything is perfect. Same as when you are in your father's or wife's arms.


7. You Are Stronger Than You Think. 

I believe not everyone can just fly out of their home country and explore a foreign place all by themselves. It takes a lot of guts to appreciate solitude in an unfamiliar place.


8. Gaining Confidence

I am not as bad as I think I am when it comes to navigation/directions. I was able to completely cross out every single place on my To-Go list and I survived and you can too.


9. To Make Friends, You Need to Talk

If you're lost, go approach that tall guy with chinky eyes wearing a purple shirt. There's nothing better than starting up a conversation with a stranger and ending up feeling connected despite the difference in race or culture.

I was once lost on my way to the Petronas Tower so I approached a woman wearing abaya, probably the same age as me, and asked for directions.

Things got better when she offered to walk me to my destination and got into a heartfelt conversation. Moments like this, just too precious.


10. You'll Want to Travel More

“You must be fearless to take the path less traveled.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita”

The next time around, will I be able to muster all my courage to just book a one way plane ticket and not have a return ticket at all? I don't know but for sure, you will hear from me.


By Gienah Contreras