Being Indonesian, I’m the first to admit that we, Indonesians, are all identical when it comes to how we travel – always in groups! I see it all the time while I’m on the road and I saw it when I worked in the tourism industry. Most customers signed up for an overseas tour, not only for themselves, but for the whole family or a group of friends. I guess it’s part of our culture because I used to travel with friends and family as well. So when I do my solo travel to Bali or other places in Indonesia, I always get the same question, “why are you traveling solo?”.
Solo Travel & Weird Looks
Sometimes I even get a weird look when they know I am traveling solo. Yep, it sounds weird for some people. I hardly ever meet another female solo traveler from Indonesia during my trips. Solo travel is not a common thing to do here. With that being said, you might be wondering, how did I end up traveling solo myself? To be honest, it never crossed my mind that I would do it, until one day…
My Trip To Bali
With A Friend
It was 9 years ago, the same time that all the budget airlines started popping up. I could purchase a return ticket to Bali for less than $50. So my friend and I planned to explore Bali for 8 days, visiting Kuta and other nearby places as well as trying scuba diving in Candidasa, a seaside town in eastern Bali that rests on the edge of a fresh water lagoon.
Then another friend would join us after Candidasa. But a few days before leaving, my friend was hesitating about going because her work were organizing an office trip to Hong Kong at the same time as our trip. Eventually my friend decided to stick with our plan and we left for Bali, arrived at noon, went straight to our hotel in Kuta and did some shopping.
Alone In Bali On My Birthday
All was good until she brought up the news that she had to go back to Jakarta asap because her office trip had been fixed. OMG! I didn’t expect that to happen. What a bummer!! Double bummer because the next day, the day she left, was my birthday. I lost my words when hearing the news. Yes, I was sooo upset… I had my birthday party alone and had to spend the next 4 days traveling solo in an unknown place. But I had no choice because we had made all the bookings in advance.
Solo Traveler Surrounded By Honeymooners
So I left by myself for Candidasa by Perama bus, a 4 hour ride with transit in Ubud and Padang Bai. Candidasa turned out to be an area far from everything (imo) and it was too quiet for me because I like crowds and nightlife. Not to mention that I was booked into Lotus Bungalows, a hotel where about 95% of the guests were honeymooners. Geez.. and again triple bummer as I had to do scuba diving for the first time without anyone supporting me. Argh… this was definitely not the holiday I had in mind, especially not for my birthday.
Yep, so that is how I fell into solo travel. It is kind of a sad story but it made me realized that I am brave enough to do it.
Accidental Solo Travel Leads To Planned Solo Trips
After that first accidental solo travel experience I did more solo traveling (that I planned) to Bali, Lombok, and found myself really enjoying it. Then 3 years later, I did some solo travel abroad for the first time.
Well, the original plan was to go to Thailand not by myself but with my sister. We got a good bargain for a one way ticket to Phuket, only Rp323k ($22 in today’s rate) and purchased it a few months in advance. But when the time came, she could not go due to her work. I remember I was afraid to go alone. I had never been overseas all by myself. I also heard a few unpleasant stories about Thailand that made me hesitate.
Island-Hopping Solo In Thailand
However, I wanted to see the country, their lovely beaches and islands. Therefore I encouraged myself and came up with a crazy plan for 10 days of island hopping, starting in Phuket then to Koh Phi Phi then crossing the country to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Then I did another crossing to Penang in Malaysia. That was crazy! Definitely exhausting!! All those hours I spent in a minivan, on a bus and ferry… Yet, I had a great time!
What Solo Travel Has Taught Me
So now, looking back to those days, I know they are what makes me who I am today. Those times taught me that I can survive whether I’m traveling solo around Indonesia or island-hopping overseas. When traveling solo I learn how to appreciate nature and my surroundings. I get to see beautiful scenery above and underwater. I get to understand different cultures, try new food, meet awesome travelers on the road and so much more. I learn about myself too, what I am capable of, what I want to do and what I like.
Sometimes it feels like doing a meditation when I’m away from the busy Jakarta city life, even though I’m not always into a quiet place for a holiday. It just makes me feel good. As a solo traveler you get the freedom to do whatever you want during the trip.
That is why I fell in love with solo travel.
By the way, in my opinion solo travel is always fun. Although, no matter how much freedom you have when doing it, please “be responsible and aware” of the outcome and consequences of each action you do during the trip. Follow your gut! Especially when it tells you to stay away from something.
Have you ever traveled solo? If not, what is it that stops you? Feel free to share your comments and opinions on solo travel (or anything else) in the comments section below!