Coucher de soleil sur Kuta Beach. Bali, Indonésie, juillet 2008.
Sunset on Kuta Beach. Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.

Travelling solo

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

"& #160; And you leave ALONE & #160 ;? Oh, there, I would never be able to "#160;! & #160;" If you knew how many times I got these sentences & #8230;

For many people, traveling solo is inconceivable, especially if you are a woman & #8230; & #x1f644; I can not understand why. On the contrary, it is a chance to leave alone. And I find plenty of benefits.

I am a girl and then & #160 ;?

Mon ombre sur le sable, à Nusa Lembongan. Bali, Indonésie, juillet 2008.
My shadow on the sand, in Nusa Lembongan. Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.

When I talk about my solo getaways at the end of the world, I have the impression that I am being taken (by choice) for a kind of super courageous amazon or for a girl not very normal limit asocial & #8230; People are weird.

To believe that mentalities have evolved little since past centuries! Even today, in the twenty-first century, a woman should not travel without a chaperone & #160;! & #160 ;?

So yes, I'm a girl and I'm leaving alone. It's nothing extraordinary or incomprehensible. I will not give up the pleasure of discovering other horizons, on the pretext that I have no one at my disposal to go with me & #160; Hein & #160 ;?

I made a lot of trips with a girlfriend, in the company of a girlfriend, with a group (more rarely) & #8230; But for several years, I travel almost systematically solo. And I must say that I like it.

It is neither difficult nor risky. Neither sad nor unhealthy. That's exactly the opposite & #160;

Alone but not lonely

Petite fête entre plongeurs, un soir, à Tioman. Malaisie, juillet 2006.
Small party between divers, one evening, in Tioman. Malaysia, July 2006.

Those who have never tried the experience do not realize it, but the solo trip is rarely synonymous with loneliness. We never make as many encounters as when we travel alone.

This is even more true when practicing like me an activity like diving, which allows "& #160; socialize & #160;" easily, around a common passion. When you spend a whole day on a boat with other divers, it creates links. Often we meet up after the evening for a drink or dinner & #8230;

In general, people, whether tourists, expatriates or locals, come more easily to you and willingly engage in conversation when they see that you are alone. To the point that it becomes even difficult to enjoy moments of loneliness when you search for them & #160;

I see myself in Tioman Island, Malaysia. I had that evening declined an invitation to dinner with my diving companions, eager to finally have a little time to write in my little notebook, painarde, without being disturbed. As a result, it was the waiter of the restaurant where I hung out that could not prevent me from coming to chat after his service. The kind of guy I class in the category "& #160; nice niggers & #160;". Not bad, but a little pot of glue. In these cases, my notebook is a formidable weapon: I explain that I have a job, I play it "very busy" who has lots of things to write, and the guy, impressed, then leave me to my "work" & #160; "& #8230;

In Pemuteran (Bali) last summer, I did not spend a single evening alone. One shot, in a tiny local restaurant where it was lacking tables, it is a couple of Germans quite charming who offered me to sit with them and we had a pleasant evening chatting. Another night, it was a couple of Americans with whom I had dipped in the day who insisted on having me at their table. The next day, it was the Balinese who ran the supermarket near my guesthouse who invited me to the party they organized for the marriage of their son

And then, there are people who become friends the time of the trip. In Malaysia, I had the pleasure of finding, from Perhentian Kecil to Tioman, Maz and Alex who were on a humanitarian journey. In Sipadan (Borneo), it's with my "& #160; buddy & #160;" dive, Sabrina, who was traveling solo too, that I hooked well. In Sulawesi, it's all a Dutch family met on the Makassar-Rantepao bus who became traveling companions and friends, for a good part of my trip, to the Togian Islands. Always in Sulawesi, it's with the Spanish Very nice, Joseba and Ana, that I made motorbike trips in the villages and rice paddies of Toraja country. On the island of Siquijor, Philippines, Marika and Shareefmy bungalow neighbors, a Swiss-Maldivian couple, have become friends. We made memorable evenings with Neal and Raul, the two Filipinos who worked at Kiwi Dive and introduced us to the island & #8230;

Short. I forget about it. I do not count anymore the walks, aperitifs, puffs and evenings to which I was invited. No, really, impossible to stay alone when traveling solo & #160;

Long live freedom & #160;

Coucher de soleil sur Kuta Beach. Bali, Indonésie, juillet 2008.
Sunset on Kuta Beach. Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.

Another advantage, when you go alone & #160 ;: we do what we want, when we want. Without needing the consent of another. Without depending on the constraints of another. What freedom & #160;

We eat or not, at the time we want. We tape or not in a corner that we found nice. We are not accountable to anyone. You do not have to be two to love the guesthouse you visit. We do not have to have the same desires at the same time, nor to compromise on certain activities or excursions & #8230;

I also feel that this freedom makes you more receptive, more attentive, more available. Without a company, you are more sensitive to the atmosphere of a place. More open, perhaps, to other cultures, other mentalities, other ways of thinking.

The fact of not being monopolized by the presence of a companion or a traveling companion, who speaks the same language as you, who comes from the same world as you, it purifies the sensations, the thought, the look. We are getting better at the country. We have an approach, a more personal vision. No interference, no influence, so benevolent and accomplices they are.

It is even a blessing, sometimes, to be a "lonely traveler & #160;" As you are alone, other women dare to approach you. The conversation begins, you inspire curiosity, they want to know everything about you. Of course, it surprises them that you travel like that, without a husband, without a child, without anyone. At the same time, they assure you (by politeness, often) that they find it very well. You reassure them a little, saying that you still have friends, with whom you dive or do a bit of a walk & #8230;

Being alone opens doors for you, makes shyness fall. Yours and others.

Disadvantages & #160 ;?

Pas de souci pour faire du cash, à Nusa Lembongan ! Bali, Indonésie, juillet 2008.
No worries to make cash, Nusa Lembongan & #160; Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.

So yes, it has many small drawbacks to travel alone, but they seem minimal, compared to the infinite freedom that comes with the solo trip. These are in fact purely material disadvantages.

With two, the accommodation necessarily costs less, since one divides the expenses of the room. And nothing irritates me more than the resorts and hotels that inflict an exorbitant surcharge on travelers who have the presumption of not going in pairs & #8230; Grrr. I hate all these attractive rates found on the web with this charming little parenthesis at the end & #160 ;: (based on two people).

Ditto when it comes to paying with his only small purse a private transport, when there is no public transport. But until now, I have often managed without too much trouble to share the price of a taxi, a boat, with other travelers encountered on the way.

The most annoying, in fact, when traveling alone, is to have a problem with money & #160: loss or theft of credit card, or cash & #8230; To two, there is the card or the other money. When you can only rely on yourself, you have to be careful. It happened to me three times to go to hell for that.

The first time was at Siem Reap airport (Cambodia). I did not have enough dollars to pay the departure tax, higher than I thought, and the only ATM (ATM) at the airport only accepted visas (and at the time I had a MasterCard). Ashamed, I begged one by one the few dollars I missed from the tourists who were waiting there with me. People were nice and helped me out.

The second time, I just lost my card in Thailand & #8230; at the bottom of my bag (yes, yes, it happens). I ended up finding it, well hidden in a pocket that I never use, just after having opposed & #160; I was good to call my sister and ask her to do an expensive money transfer for me from Europe Western Union, just to have something to finish the holidays.

Finally, the third time, it was in Bangkokat the end of your stay. I wanted to do some shopping at MBK Center and remove bahts. Except that after three weeks spent in the islands, I had forgotten (if, if, it happens) my code. I typed three times wrong code and my card was swallowed. I was able to recover it because the bank where I wanted to make the withdrawal was open. But the card, it had been disabled automatically & #8230; Fortunately I had enough cash for the pre-departure fee. But I had to give up shopping.


Kuta Beach, Bali. Indonésie, juillet 2008.
Kuta Beach, Bali. Indonesia, July 2008.

Apart from these minor material mishaps without consequences, it never happened to me untoward during my solo trips. My optimistic temperament makes me believe that it can only continue like this.

Of course, I never go alone in no time in poor neighborhoods. But I do not do it at home either. Whether at the end of the world or in my own country, I keep a minimum of common sense. Judgment is ample, in terms of precautions to take. No need for a survival manual in foreign land for the use of women & #8230; Though.

A book to recommend
Le voyage pour les filles qui ont peur de toutFor the most worried, I invite you to play down with this nice book, full of very useful tips and testimonials of more or less intrepid adventurers (including mine), co-written with humor and talent by my girlfriend Quebec blogger Marie-Julie Gagnon & #160 ;:
→ The trip for girls who are afraid of everything

In all honesty, I have never felt insecure. And I have never been abused on a trip (it only happened to me in France, in Paris and in Rennes, in everyday life). Many girls ask me the question, but overall, the countries of Southeast Asia where I wandered are safe places for a tourist traveling alone. It happened to me once or twice to invent a husband who was to join me shortly, just to discourage some nice naggers, but that's all.

I run no risk, really, to fly with my little person for only company to a distant elsewhere. I do not travel to countries at war. I do not put myself in physical danger. I do not accomplish an exploit. I am not an explorer who takes risks. Just a dreamer, a walker & #8230;

Facing oneself

Visages surmontant l'une des portes de l'enceinte des temples d'Angkor. Siem Reap, Cambodge, juin 2001.
Faces surmounting one of the doors of the enclosure of the temples of Angkor. Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 2011.

All I risk, from this way, is to be out of place and transformed, to come back richer meetings, memories, emotions. To know me better too. Finding oneself in front of oneself, far from one's usual landmarks is an interesting, instructive experience.

We rediscover ourselves in a new light. We discover qualities, unsuspected resources. Weaknesses, too. But suddenly, we know what to do with ourselves.

And frankly, it's very gratifying to know a little better who we are. Once lightened of everything, when we have nothing more than a travel bag to stuck, we are clearer (e) towards his little person. We tell ourselves fewer stories, we better understand what is really important.

It helps then for everyday life. From this point of view, the solo trip, whether you are a man or a woman, is an inestimable experience.

See also & #8230;

→ All my trips

→ My presentation page

→ Practical information to organize your trip to Raja Ampat

  Between Two Journeys