The Truth About Traveling Solo
THE TRUTH ABOUT TRAVELING SOLO
Traveling solo can be life changing. It builds your confidence in so many ways. But what not many travelers or travel bloggers tell you is that it can be really fucking hard. I used to take solo weekend trips to Mexico all of the time. I would think things like, How easy is this? I am a pro. I am so confident. Traveling with someone else? How lame!
Africa, alone? Ummm obviously.
Flash forward to me landing in Moshi, Tanzania. I step off the taxi into the town. What an amazing day! Just let me find my hostel. Oh, my phone doesn’t work here. Whoops, I should have checked that. Oh well, let me ask someone. “Hello, do you know where this hostel is?” Looks of confusion followed with me staring at their back as they walk away. Beads of sweat rolling down my forehead. A 15 kg backpack on my back. Thunder from above. Literally, it starts pouring. Oh, delightful. Maybe I can find it myself.
After walking around for over an hour, asking multiple people for directions, even hotel receptionists who point me in different directions. I even give my phone to a few people to show them the hostel phone number and ask them call on their phone. No luck. No one understands. I sit down on the curb of the corner I have passed 10 times already and start crying. I can’t do this anymore. I am never going to find my hostel. It is hot. It is raining. No one speaks English. No one cares about helping me. Why didn’t I figure this out beforehand. What am I supposed to do? I can’t find anywhere to even put my bag while I walk around.
I sit and cry for about 5 minutes. I go through the cycle in my head of feeling sorry for myself and then talking myself out of it. You can do this Jill. Get it out but then stop crying. It won’t help your cause. Get up. Start over. People are here to help you. It will all work out.
I finally get up and ask a woman who is crossing the street. She doesn’t speak English or understand what I am trying to ask. I walk over to a boy sitting on the side of the road texting. I show him the name of my hostel. He says, “Yes, follow me.” We walk for about 15 to 20 minutes. I start to wonder where he is taking me and if he understands where I was trying to go. I am desperate. Am I being dumb? Is he taking me to an alley somewhere to rob me? At this point, would I even care if someone stole all of my belongings so that I didn’t have to carry them around anymore? I keep walking. I continue to follow him to wherever he is leading me. This is not the way that any of the hotels pointed me. But I keep going.
A few minutes later, he says, “Here!” and points. Huh? I look up and there is a small sign with my hostel’s name. He presses a button and the door opens.
I made it. He follows me in. I give him the only shillings I have on me, which amount to around $1. A small price to pay to someone for saving my life.
I check in and go upstairs to the rooftop balcony. I order food and a Kilimanjaro beer while going over the chain of events that led me here. I come to the following conclusions.
Traveling alone can be hard. But it also forces you to put your life in the hands of the locals, communicate with them and rely on other human beings for help. Asking others for help is something that has always been hard for me. And when you are in situations like this, you are forced to give all of your trust to another human being. Also hard for me.
Well, it looks like this experience was just what I needed. It showed me where I needed to grow and provided me with excellent opportunities to do so. In my first 2 hours in Africa, I was already becoming a more enlightened person. Thank you, Universe. Maybe go a little easier on me next time? Nah.