A couple of weeks ago, I went to Pangasinan, and it was one of the most memorable trips I had ever gone on in my life for two reasons. One, I had never been there before and I’d always wanted to go. Two, it was my first time traveling alone.
Okay, so I cheated a bit on that part; I actually signed up for a tour of Bolinao and the Hundred Islands, but for the first time, I didn’t travel with any family and friends. Our tour’s driver couldn’t wrap his head around the concept. He said of all the tours he’s driven for years, I was the first one he met who was traveling alone. One of the guests of the tour said I was probably “soul-searching.”
It wasn’t because I was lonely and wanted to wallow in self-pity. Neither was it for some existential desire to “find myself”; at my age, I should’ve found myself and come back at least 20 times by now. I’ve always really just wanted to know what it would be like to go at it alone. They say it’s one of the things you should be able to do at least once in your life, and now I understand why. (I know you’ve probably read all of this in “I am woman, hear me roar” posts before, but bear with my ramblings for a moment. Please?)
1. For a couple of days, it was all about me.
No, I don’t mean I relish being the center of attention (I don’t). What I meant was, all I had to think about was myself. I was able to take in the sights without worrying about leaving someone behind. I got to stay for long periods of time at places where I wanted to with no fear that someone’s getting bored. I didn’t have to wait for people to get ready when I was raring to go out. As the expression goes, the world was my oyster. While swimming at the beach on my own, I actually found myself giggling in more than a couple of instances. It probably would’ve looked creepy to an onlooker, but I didn’t care; I was having fun alone. Not that kind of fun, you pervert.
2. I learned to be a little more responsible.
Just as I had no one else to worry about, I also had no one to rely on if anything went wrong. I knew if I left anything behind, I can’t nudge a travel buddy to comp me. Or if I got into a jam, no one will be there to come to my rescue. I put a lot of thought into what I packed so I wouldn’t forget anything. And I had to fully pay attention to my surroundings when I was out on a stroll to stay safe. I kept good track of my spending so I wouldn’t accidentally blow my budget.
3. It does change you in one way or another.
In my case, I kind of came out of my shell. For a few choice instances, anyway. I’ve always been on the shy side (which people often mistake for bitchiness, but that’s a story for another time), so I didn’t have a problem keeping to myself for most of the trip. But in some instances when the other people in my tour would talk to me, I did find myself responding to them. In fact, during lunch on our second day, I was going to sit alone at a table but a couple beckoned to me and asked me to sit with them at their table and I did. Granted, I regretted my decision two seconds after I sat down and felt uncomfortable throughout the meal, but that’s progress. Don’t you think it’s progress? I think it’s progress.
The next day on my way to work, with thoughts of my recent escapade still fresh in my mind, I noticed had a different spring to my step. I thought I was going to pull a Tom Hansen at any moment. Don’t worry, I didn’t; but I did have a stupid grin on my face the whole way. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t to say I don’t like traveling with friends and family or I’d never go on adventures with them ever again, but I now realize what I’ve been missing. Now I can’t wait to go rogue and backpack on my own. I’m so glad the world has a lot of places and that I’m still relatively young enough to go out and explore them.
Thanks for putting up with this slightly dramatic and kind of lengthy prose. I’m still going to follow this with posts on things I did there, places I went to, lots of pictures, how much I spent, etc. But today, I just really wanted to get that out of my chest. Hope you’re still with me when I take on my next trip.
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