Other than AirBnB and GoPro, solo female traveler has become the most happening things in the travelling sector in recent years. The ladies I know are either embracing it or at least talking about it. All the female travel bloggers I admire and look up to, are seasoned solo female travelers. That being said, I am here to confess that I am a female who doesn’t like to travel solo.
The realization should have come much sooner, when I spent a miserable winter in Beijing and wrote about having failed solo traveling. It was just recently that it became crystal to me, when I spent a few days alone in Tokyo, that it dawned on me that solo traveling was definitely not my thing. It took me some time to register this because I love the concept of ‘me time’. I am a closeted introvert who yearns to be alone after socializing, else I will be sad or grumpy or cracycray or all of those qualities combined.
I see myself as a wolf* who moves in a pack. Whenever I am traveling, I am always happier if I go with people. Therefore, I always try to convince my friends to travel with me, or think of the possibility of packing them in my suitcase because I am not a brave solo traveler. Here are the reasons:
1. Some relax time
I am so used to making decisions by myself since forever, but I don’t like doing it while traveling. On the road, I am the tag along kinda girl, the Rachel of the group. I like to relax and follow the lead. In a foreign place everything is a new adventure anyways.
2. My awesome sauce friends
My friends have wanderlust souls and I love seeing the place I travel to from their point of views too. Through the things they like, curious and get excited about. With them around, I get to see more, learn more and enjoy more, which ultimately heighten my own experience.
3. My secret love of photobooth
I rarely admit this in public, but I am slightly obsessed with photobooth. And every slightly obsessed photo booth person knows that it’s best done with friends. The many silly faces that stuck on my fridge door would attest to that.
4. To share cheap wine with
What goes together with a budget vacation? Cheap alcohol, that’s what.
It has been a long standing tradition (created by me) to stock wine bottle, or local equivalent, in the mini fridge to be drank leisurely on our leisure nights abroad. I am the most loyal fan of the sharing-new-found-alcoholic-drinks-and-finger-food-bought-from-the-convenience-store-among-friends-in-a-foreign-land club. On the contrary, as much as I love to pull an Olivia Pope and gulp wine after a long day of work, getting drunk alone and away from home is not my version of happy vacation. Budget or otherwise.
5. Reminiscing travel times
My memory sucks, we all know that. Other than the few I could retain in my brain and this blog, I get to relive my travels whenever my friends say “remember that time when we are at….” That’s just terrific for me.
6. Posting Instagram worthy travel snaps
I am not a fan of selfie, I feel uncomfortable having stranger taking my pictures and I never understood when people tell me to smile to the camera. The camera is a big black box, why would I smile to it? I have an unrecognized smiling picture of me inside the Sagrada Familia, taken by a random person. I was half shy and half scared that he would run away with my big black box. These are the reasons why I prefer my friends to take my pictures, so I can do cheesy touristy poses while smiling at them.
7. I’m a scaredy cat
As much as I try to be brave and stuff, I tend to get uncomfortable while traveling, what with it literally is outside of my comfort zone. Especially if I am alone, without my friends to reassure me that, whatever, my behavior is normal, or at least acceptable (by them). This varies from starring at colorful socks for a long time trying to decide who else might need socks back home so that I can buy more to taking pictures of Miaw, my soft toy, at tourist landmarks.
8. I get to eat more food
It’s a simple mathematics really. Friends’ food = my food = more food. Also, most of my friends are adventurous, which means either I have to try an unusual food because it’s normal for them or they are brave enough to try weird stuff and I got peer pressured to try it too. Till date, I have never regretted it.
9. It strengthens the bond
Someone told me once that if I want to know a person better, I should travel with them and I couldn’t agree more.
I get to know my friends so much better, the real version of them, every time we travel together. Fortunately for me, I am surrounded by awesome sauce people (read point #2) who open up new worlds for me, people I can always count on, that adds to my life experiences in one way or another; especially when we are traveling together. The times we spend on the road makes me treasure our friendships even more.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone solo traveling. If the choice is only between not traveling and doing it alone, I will choose solo traveling. But in my case, most of the time, I will always try to convince my friends to go together with me, even if it means making some sort of compromise because I know that I will be having a much better time with them around. In short, instead of sharing my travel pictures on social media for my friends to comment on, I prefer to pack them along with me.
Ps. This post is dedicated to my bestie, Yin, who celebrated her birthday this week. Happy Birthday Ms Yin! Thank you for being the best travelling buddy. I am raising the sake box and cheering to our future travels.
PPs. I use the term friends loosely here. Friends here include the equally awesome sauce Hulk and my family.
Read more: my 5 reasons why you should think about taking a gap year // The time I spent a few days alone in Tokyo // Lessons learned from my travel fails // How to fake solo traveling in a group.
*not really, I see myself as a cat, but they don’t travel together do they? Because they are lazy which is exactly why I relate more to cats than wolves.