If You Think You Can Travel Alone, Think Again

I used to be proud to call myself a solo traveler. I traveled all by myself in Asia, Africa, Europe… and I was really happy; those are the experiences I would never trade for anything. Those made me feel confident, independent, and tough. I said to myself that I didn’t need anyone else to make me happy. I can make myself happy, and those travels are the real evidence. With that kind of feeling & thinking, I decided to pack my luggage, leave everything behind in Indonesia, and start exploring Australia for one fucking year. Or even two. “In this continent I will travel alone again, and of course I’ll be fine as usual,” that’s what I was thinking.

Then I realized I was wrong.

This is a different kind of travel. A kind of travel that I don’t know when to return. If on my regular travel the biggest problem is wondering who’ll go out with me tonight, now it becomes: who’ll go out with me every night. And the problem started when I couldn’t find the answer. Uh ya, making friends in a new country is a hard work.

I had my first breakdown in Melbourne when my only friend went for a one-month holiday in Indonesia. That afternoon after sending her to the airport, I wondered what the fuck am I going to do there without her? We always strolled the city, ate our foods, and laughed our asses off together. I had lots of acquaintances I met from work, travelers gathering, or at my hostel. Most of them were extremely nice and friendly. But none of them graduated from “acquaintance” to “friend”. We had fun when we met, we shared lots of stories… but that’s it. Some of them were locals who already have their own friends, so it was hard for me to join their pack, especially because they knew I’m a foreigner who’d only be here for less than a year. What for? They prefer to hangout with someone who can “last” forever.

People at my hostel were definitely backpackers who moved around every week or two. On my first week I shared my room with two German girls who brought me to a nice party and introduced me to their Irish friends. We went out a couple of times, but then they continued their travel so I had to say goodbye. A week later I met some other people who were pretty cool, but then they moved again so I had to say goodbye, again. And it’s so tiring to talk to new people every week, introduce myself all over again, and have the same conversation every time: where are you from, what do you do, how long have you been here, bla bla bla.

If one day you do this kind of travel, all you’ll need is a steady conversation. A conversation where you can have an update about each other’s day, talk about things going on in the media, or just other random stuffs. In another word, yeah I felt lonely. But no, that’s not the worst part. All became worse when you have a problem but no one’s there to see your sad face or hold your hands.

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Alone in a loud city. Taken in Brisbane, January 2016

I’ve been there, done that, in Brisbane, three weeks ago. An asshole made me too broken to function, broke my heart into pieces. If that happens in Indonesia where my friends are around me, I’d be fine and just shake it off like Taylor Swift. But when I’m a million miles away from comfort, Adele dominated my feeling. I cried alone like a baby and didn’t eat properly for days. That moment made me realize, shit… I’m not that tough and independent. That I’m dependent and weak. That I need to be around people I know. That I need a shoulder to cry on. That I need someone to hold my hand and say, “It’s okay, I know…”

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One of the city views I saw with that asshole

This travel brings the soft part of my heart (yeah, surprisingly I have one). Now I am more sentimental and sensitive. I even cried watching Chris Evan’s Before We Go (note: I didn’t cry watching My Sister’s Keeper, The Notebook, or The Fault in Our Stars). I now have a higher respect to the presence of my family and close friends back in my country. Even one of my goals now is to travel with each one of them. I still want to travel alone, but now I prefer to do that with someone or some people I love because I think it’s good to tone down my big ego. I will finish what I started in Australia, but next time when I do this kind of travel I have to be with someone.

Don’t worry, I feel better now. I now can see the silver linings behind that “Brisbane tragedy”. After crying all shits out of me, I decided to take a job that will keep me busy so I’ll forget that shithead. And now I have that job. It’s a nice one. I work at a motel as the housekeeper and waiter at its restaurant. The people I work with are cool. Everything about this job is better than what I had in Melbourne; now my boss no longer “corrupt” my money. And I rent a house too, with two other people (one Australian, one Kiwi). I still feel lonely, but now I can handle it better. I join a book club, and the people there are also fun. I know I’ll like it here in Queensland, I just have to walk patiently.

"I said you can quit the travel anytime. But I prefer to see you at the finish line," a friend said
“I said you can quit the travel anytime. But I prefer to see you at the finish line,” a friend said

6 thoughts on “If You Think You Can Travel Alone, Think Again

  1. Hi Zul, I was a silent reader of your blog for quite long. But after I read this article, I really need to make a shout out for you!!!

    I had my first solo trip in 2014 to Japan, and (immediately) decide it will be my last one! -super lame haha

    Everytime you faced difficulties, always remember the verse of Albaqarah:286 and let it be your mantra!!! You are stronger than you think!!!

    Like

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