How do you feel about solo travel? What do you expect people will be like? Are you scared or excited? Do you get told to beware of strangers or embrace locals with an open mind? As a solo traveler, there is so much you have to take of by yourself and you have to be on the lookout as well but to take away your possible worries, let me tell you that A) People are not as bad as you think, B) they can actually be really nice and C) you are never really alone – in a good sense. Case in point, the collection of short stories on solo travel by fellow travellers on kindness random strangers have bestowed on them. Second case in point, this article. Read on to see how – even in tricky situations – you never have to cope all by yourself even if you do solo travel.
Motivational Messages for Your Solo Travel
Palawan showed me the true, genuine kindness that Filipino people can share with each other every day, with my guardian angel popping in to say hello on a three hour rollercoaster bus journey to Puerto Princesa in the Philippines. With a sporty polo shirt hanging off his thin frame and an incredibly quick and witty mind, Arvin is one of the most youthful Grandad’s I have ever met.
His caring conversation, curious and polite questions and endless supply of sticky mints made the journey with the hardcore food poisoning I had, absolutely worth it. He wanted to spend time with me, know me and learn from me much more than the person sharing a seat with you would usually attempt. His energy was honest, truthful and loving. A devoted and religious man, he showed me blurry photos of the Pope on his battered old-school Nokia phone as we twisted and turned along the narrow roads.
When we reached our destination, we agreed to swap numbers. That day and every day until I left the Philippines, he sent me positive, inspiring and thoughtful messages that made my days even brighter than they already were. His sunny presence was behind every word and I gratefully received what he sent. I think about Arvin a lot and if there is a heaven, the door is without a doubt, open wide for him.
Alice has quite the solo travel stories to tell and you can read more about her on Teacake Travels.
Door to door sales. Most people would think that’s not the safest job to be doing abroad. Do you know what, though? I disagree. One sunny afternoon, I’d cut my foot open while walking from house to house. And by cut open, I mean I’d practically sliced the end of my toe off. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it and it wouldn’t be the last, so I carried on stomping the pavements with a flip-flop shaped pool of blood following my every step. I’d already been given a plaster by one kind person but, to be honest, it wasn’t helping at all.
I went to my last house of the day, knocked on the door, and started my well rehearsed pitch to a smiley Australian couple. 5 seconds into my spiel though, their smiles disappeared and it was obvious they were not listening to a single world I was saying. They’d spotted my mangled toe and immediately sprang into hero mode. They pulled me in to their home, grabbed some iodine, sat me down with a cup of tea and cleaned my foot up all while calling my manager to come pick me up. They didn’t have to do that but, they did, and me and my toe will be eternally grateful.
Emma also blogs about solo travel on Paper Planes and Caramel Waffle.
New Thai Family
I arrived at the Surat Thani airport in the evening without enough time to get to the port to catch the last ferry to Koh Phangan. I desperately asked the employees at the ferry booth if there are any other options to get me there that night since I had already paid my accommodation, but the morning ferry was the only option.
One girl held my hand and offered, “Don’t worry, you stay with me at my home, you family!” How incredibly sweet!? I started tearing up overwhelmed by her kindness and she says, “Welcome to Thailand!” She told me if I don’t mind waiting till she was off work, she would take me to sleep at her house and take me to the bus station in the morning to go to the port. We carpooled with her female coworker, picked up her girlfriend and dropped my bags off at the house.
The couple took me to the street market to try authentic Thai food and wouldn’t let me pay! We all slept in the same bed and got up early to eat breakfast together. The least I could do to thank them for their hospitality was pay for their meal! They turned my night 180 degrees from disaster to adventure. I feel so blessed to have met those lovely Thai ladies. There is truly more good than evil in the world.
You can follow Catarina’s solo travel journey on her The Wild Wild Zest facebook page.
Studying abroad in Korea was one of the highlights of my twenties. I lived with Korean friends and commuted for 1.5 hours one way on public transit to the university where I was studying. Needless to say, I had quite a lot of experience riding the subways and buses in Seoul. However, one day a bad situation happened while I was riding a subway home.
I was packed in with no wiggle room in a rush hour when a deranged man spotted me. Since some subway lines were known to have more ‘interesting characters’ on them than others, I was quite used to the occasional homeless people asking for something or hardcore missionary trying to convert me. I thought it would be standard procedure where he’d take a passing interest in me, realize I wasn’t going to have it and move along. He proceeded to start harassing me from a few spots over and I thought I was handling it pretty well – and that he’d lose interest in bothering me quickly.
Then, for whatever reason, he started yelling right at me and squeezing his way through the business people to make his way over and got right in my face. He started poking my arm and it looked like my day was about to make a turn for the worse. But, before I could blink an eye, a Korean man on the other side of me quickly grabbed me, moved me over, and stood in between us. I could still hear the shouts directed my way but he was now blocking the other man from physically getting near me. He made sure I was ok, and that was that.
I no longer felt unsafe on my ride home. He stood there smashed in between us reading his newspaper until that deranged man got off the subway. I said thanks and we parted ways as if no big deal. What was a seemingly effortless move on his part showed me that people will come to your aid when you really need it and that a perfect stranger can save the day.
See more from Rachel and follow her solo travel adventures on Ramblr.
Personal Solo Travel Driver
It was a hot and humid day in Chumphon, Thailand. We wanted to get away from the tourist area and to the lesser known beaches to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet. Without really knowing the exact way, we started walking. Not having a proper map with us, we soon realized we were most likely going the wrong direction and our puzzled faces must have shown our concerns because a Thai man on his bike stopped and asked us where we wanted to go. We tried to explain. All he did was a gesture with hand that invited us to follow him, we thought he wanted to show us the right direction to the beach, instead he took us to his house, left his bicycle and took the car.
Even though we were a bit suspicious, we jumped in the car and he drove us around the area, showed us some pretty and deserted spots and eventually left us at the beach where we wanted to get to. We were simply speechless, we hadn’t even asked for help, yet this man kindly offered some.
Unsatisfied with the beach we arrived at, we decided on a further beach, so we started walking again. After few hours, it started raining, it was incredibly humid and we were getting tired. At that point, a Thai lady on a motorbike stopped and offered for us to jump on her moped, so we did (yes, all three of us).
For the second time that day we experienced the kindness of complete strangers who offered us help without our asking for it, and without wanting anything in return. Neither of these two people spoke any English, and we didn’t speak Thai, yet somehow we understood each other and, even if we weren’t entirely sure where they were going to take us, we trusted these strangers.
To learn more about slow travel, stop by Franca and Dale’s blog and guides on AngloItalian.
Stereotype Not Fulfilled
Columbia is a place about which Germans just know one stereotype – DRUGS! Isn’t it a dangerous country? Well… Yes – No – Maybe – Depends? It is not more or less dangerous than any other country in South America. Drugs? I never saw any; I was not even asked once if I wanted some. But I did feel uncomfortable at the beginning of my time in Columbia. Why? Because then I just knew the stereotypes I had heard about Columbia.
One day, I just wanted to go for a little hike – ALONE! I drove to a little town with a bus and started asking people for the way. The 3rd guy I asked was really helpful and just decided to come along with me… I was happy, but afraid at the same time. He was at least over 60, not dressed to go for a hike at all but curious about me and what I was doing. It was not a tourist city. Anyway, he just told me he owned a nice company (…). We talked in Spanish (at this time I could barely converse, but it was alright). Nor the hike or our conversation was odd, BUT after the 5 hour hike back to the top and down again he suddenly brought me to the bus. Then, he explained to the bus driver where I wanted to go, gave me a hug and left…
I will never forget how friendly he was, how much time he spent with me without wanting anything in return. I wasn’t a match for him in age or shared interests in general. I still don’t know why he genuinely wanted to join me or whether he just wanted to be nice. I know that I will never forget this hike and his nice manner.
Check out more of Chris’s solo travel stories on his German blog Globesurfer.de
Bus Ride with Danger and Help
Somebody told me, “you should not go to Manila, especially not with a three and half year old child,” but what was I to say? Me and my son were about to take the overnight bus from Banaue back to Manila, where our next flight was leaving the next day. But the real problem was that the ATM in Banaue didn’t work, so we had no cash with us. I was rather upset about the situation and had absolutely no idea what to do. I tried to figure out how dangerous it would be in Manila and whether we should stay at the bus terminal until the start of the day. Some foolish backpackers had told me I was totally crazy to even think about it and they asked me if I have an idea what kind of city we were about to reach in the early morning. No, of course I had no idea!
The bus ride itself was more than only horrible, the driver tooooo fast, the night tooooo dark and my sleepy son falling off of his seat with every bump. And while I was able to see the bus driving pretty close to the brink I prayed to god. Then, the bus arrived in Manila two hours earlier than planned, which gives you an idea of how fast the ride was.
I was pretty anxious and afraid about the people around the bus terminal. At this moment, I realised that it could be more than dangerous. I woke my son up and at the same moment my seat-neighbour asked me, where I was going because she wanted to share a taxi ride. She lived in Manila and I told her my problem and she invited me to her home. And even though I didn’t know her, it felt perfect and alright to go with her. On the taxi ride I saw that Manila is a big city with tons of crimes. Hannah, who saved my life in Manila, told me that the city is the most populated in the whole world and the most dangerous in Asia because there are lots of very poor people and they would even kill you for an iphone.
See more of Stephanie’s passion for travel together with her kid on Freileben, our second German blog of today.
I have had my share of kindness in situations where I thought I was alone and going to have to walk in the middle of nowhere with cows as my only company and honking trucks as my soundtrack. All these stories do restore my faith in humanity and make travelling solo a much more pleasant endeavour and an adventure in itself. What amazing stories have you experienced?
Now over to you, have you ever tried solo travel? Would you want to? What are your experiences with it(even second hand)?
Images kindly provided by the respective story tellers.