“Knowing what you do now, would you do it again?”
When a friend asked me this last week, I took a moment to really think about it.
If you kept up with me during my solo backpacking excursion for the majority of this year on Instagram, it was obvious that my trip was far from perfect. In fact, it was honestly the most challenging thing I’ve ever willingly put myself through.
I refuse to sugarcoat the fact that parts of my experience were truly a living hell. 😬
From complete loss of hearing in my right ear that lasted an entire month, dealing with unexpected surgery in a Bali hospital where no one spoke English, waking up covered head-to-toe in bed bug bites my first night in Cambodia, to getting an eye infection in Thailand as well as a fever that kept me in a hostel dorm bed totally secluded for 10 days straight.
Oh, and the occasional severe bouts of loneliness that would creep in every so often. 🙃
It was definitely NOT a vacation, that’s for sure. I knew it wouldn’t be; in fact, I expected it to have challenges (how could it not when you have no one else around to rely on but yourself), but I never expected so many things to go wrong one right after the other.
I found myself feeling discouraged often. It was tough!
But here’s the thing: each time something unexpected happened, I pushed through it.
Honestly, that’s ALL you can do sometimes.
Yes, in those moments it was extremely difficult, many frustrated tears were shed, and some days felt like they were literally crawling by at a glacial pace when I just wanted it to all be over and go home; however, I knew I’d survive and that these tough times would all be funny memories someday.
Now when I think back on my trip as a whole, my immediate thoughts go to the highlights instead: the various people from all over the world and all walks of life I met, the friends I made and still keep in touch with, the incredible sights I witnessed, the opportunities that came my way, and the times I pushed myself waaay past my comfort zone (literally, like that time I went bungee jumping—and then I did it again).
I won’t lie: the hard times definitely left an impact, but they also taught me a lot about myself and made me even more grateful for the overwhelming amount of amazing moments I now hold dear.
Usually when people ask how my trip was, I never divulge what I actually want to say because I assume most folks are just being polite. It’s also hard to summarize an entire 6 months that had many levels of ups and downs, so I will just say something quick and vague like, “It was amazing! But also hard.” and leave it at that instead of talking their ear off.
But hey, you’ve made it this far into this post, so I’ll share a bit more.
First off, I’m not going to proclaim that “I found myself” on this adventure because, well, I was never lost. Also that phrase is way too cheesy for me. 😅 However, I genuinely feel changed for the better because of this solo trip—like an upgraded version of myself… which I don’t think ever would have happened had I not gone alone.
I am more resilient, resourceful, brave, and independent because of this experience. I am more appreciative of my life here at home now, even the mundane day-to-day things I used to hate (like driving or buying groceries).
When things go wrong, I can shrug them off way more easily. Once you go through traveling multiple countries by yourself and dealing with hardships with no one to look to for support, literally nothing scares you anymore (because you’ve been through worse) or bothers you (because in the end, you know that none of it matters and life will go on).
Other changes I’ve noticed?
It’s easier for me to make up conversation and talk to strangers no matter who they are or where I am. I now put up with less petty bullsh*t that isn’t worth my energy. I used to give my free time to anyone who wanted it because I hated being alone for too long, but now? I’m truly okay with being alone—I only give my time to those I genuinely want to give it to and people who actually deserve it. I am finally investing my time in people who invest in me.
Overall, I am more confident and sure of myself now than I ever was before getting on that plane back in January. It’s a liberating feeling, y’all.
Even though solo travel can be super challenging, and I had a lot of sh*t happen to me that can only be attributed to bad luck, would I do it all over again?
Absolutely. Without a single doubt.
And someday I hope I DO get another chance to go on a similar trip all over again.
Preferably without the whole bed bugs thing though. 😂