Sometimes, I don’t really care for Solo Travel

Runaway Subscription Saturday: 3rd May 2011
May 22, 2011
Runaway Photo: KK Night Market, Borneo, Malaysia
May 25, 2011

Sometimes, I don’t really care for Solo Travel

Well it's a very good picture of me, but still. It's too "self" shot.

I don’t insist to be a solo traveler. I’m not a loner. Oh I’m definitely not.

It just happened from the beginning and it works fine so far. I have love and hate complicated relationship between solo travel for years, but generally I’m proud to be one and enjoying it. Although there is always a hidden side of the moon. Well, not so much hidden, just an occasional meteor shower.

Yes, sometimes I don’t really care for Solo Travel. Am I the only one?

 

1. I want to have pretty photos of me

Is that so wrong?

Whenever I look through photo albums… I don’t have a decent photo of me. Most of my photos are.. you know, my face is on a half of the frame and an arm is sticking out on the other side.

*sigh*

No, this is not the best moment of solo travel. No, I don’t want that to be my signature look! In fact, it is one serious downside of solo travel.

Well it's a very good picture of me, but still. It's too "self" shot.

I want a memorable and pretty photo of me, in front of a gorgeous landscape, with a famous building but in a natural facial expression. When I posted this in Facebook, people said ‘just ask anyone-a good looking guy, preferably- to take a photos of you!’. That’s right and I did it, many times. But you know what? When stranger took a photo of me, I look super weird. In fact, I’m a shy kid. Almost every photo of me that taken by others, I looked so awkward. And often times, I went to a solitude places rather than a crowded one. Who would I ask then? To Treebeard the Ent? Well, I would if I could.

This happened, when stranger takes my photo. I can’t even look at it. I’m like the symbol of awkwardness there.

yes... this happens. I can't even look at it.

 

2. I want to joke

I’m a joker.

I kid and kid and kid. But I’m a serious person, believe me. Well, I don’t blame you if you don’t.

Though, I think I feel lonely when I don’t have anyone to share a joke. When I saw something, funny lines are passing by, and thought ‘oh! This is a punch line!’. I think this is more about desire to laugh together than just make a smart joke. What’s the point if there’s no laugh following after the joke, right? As much as I love laughing, I think that is it. And there’s this joke that ‘oh you have to be there’ to laugh. Well, I was the only one there, so it’s a not-shareable.

Yes I want to have someone on my side, because I want to kid.

Laugh!!!

 

3. I want to eat two rather than one

Greedy much? You might say. But think about it. When you travel with someone, you rarely order the same thing at the restaurant. “Do you want to order two different dishes and share?” is a normal and very a smart dialect. How nice? a) I have a company to eat together and b) I get to savor two different foreign cuisines instead of one. This is like experience times two! Of course there’s always the third option, just order two and eat as much as I can. However as a budget traveler, and as a girl, I think I shouldn’t do that no matter how much I want to.

A table full of food.. I like it!

 

4. I want to be featured

I like to take pictures without them knowing. This is a type of photography I quite like. Don’t get me weird, it’s nothing like that. When my friends are laughing together, when you are reading under the tree with a pretty sunshine, when you are watching the sunset, when you caught the fish, when you are talking to locals with a funny body language, and many, many more occasions. I consider this as the act of document the moment and vibe. I have quite a lot of great photos in this kind. And at some point, I thought ‘I would like to be in it.’ That was new. That I thought right after I took this shot.

One of my favourite photos from Taipei, and I would like to be in it.

 

I was and still am always ‘a girl with a camera’, since I can remember. It’s fine, I like it but being a single photo taker in the group means there’s no memory left for me except a pathetic self-photo with one arm’s sticking out. Especially it’s different when I’m traveling, and having a moment of my life. I want to be in their memory too, not the one who was behind the camera.

See? I told you it’s not a weird thing.

 

5. I want a second opinion.

No doubt, I consider myself as a seasoned traveler and a super independent human being. Though, I have moments time to time, that I want to hear a second opinion about things. Not only just shopping for clothes at a local market – well, to be fair, yes, I need someone more than ever with a dress shopping! But seriously, even though making decision and the implicit freedom is a beauty of solo travel, sometimes that’s just tiring. It happens; I am tired of being a super independent individual. Yes, it’s a weak moment and often a very short one too. But it’s there, time to time. Maybe it’s because I miss human interaction. Just a tiny bit but I miss it.

Sometimes I just want a simple direction.

 

What do you think? Are you a fan of solo travel and sometimes don’t really care for it?

It’s just a moment of weakness, but it happens.

Do you agree?

 

 


Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

64 Comments

  1. Giulia says:

    Having someone on our side when we travel sometimes is a great plus! We can share thoughts, get support, and… nice photos!!! Even if this is not always the case, because I have some horrible photos taken by others :p
    Anyway, even when I travel solo, I always find myself meeting new people, and I kind of enjoy being alone sometimes, so I think traveling solo is perfect for me as I can keep my balance and choose when to be alone and when to be a social animal:)
    That said, I wouldn’t mind traveling with you sis, I am sure it would be a-we-so-me!!! *___*

    • Juno says:

      Yes, I do enjoy solo travel. Like you said, I can control the balance. When I want to be alone, and what I want to hang out with people. But it’s nice to have someone on the side time to time. Not a random person, a good travel companion.
      And I know, it will be awesome if we travel together! But you know what? Our memory card will explode because we are going to take so many pictures!!

    • travelleray says:

      Hey Juno,

      Thats a nice read…I agree that there are cons of traveling solo…it does bother one on n off…which is why I got really excited when I checked out http://www.mingletrips.com/ Its free and is the easiest ways to connect with co-travelers as well as locals while traveling. I loved it….and definitely recommend it!

  2. Kelly says:

    I completely agree with all these points! Sometimes it’s frustrating as a solo traveler when you have no proof that you were physically in a place. 🙂 Second opinions for everything from clothes to hostels to food is something that I crave occasionally. Maybe there’s a better restaurant or trail that I didn’t know about. But one of the fun parts of solo travel is getting strangers opinions on things.

    • Juno says:

      How true. No physical proof. That’s exactly what it is!
      Oh and now you mention it, I don’t mind occasional twin room rather than a dorm room. I do love dorm room so much, but sometimes I want to have like a half of privacy. Not a single room, just a room that I can share with a friend. I do enjoy that.

  3. Wow, I can relate! Especially to #1– when a stranger is taking your photo, you can’t insist on reshoots and it feels weird striking silly poses. It’s easier to get a glamorous shot when you have a sidekick 😉

  4. Jeremy B says:

    These are awesome Juno. There is definitely a downside to traveling solo. Sometimes the independence that comes with it also has drawbacks. However, I can attest that there are pros and cons to EVERY type of travel. When you travel together, you may disagree on what to do or get in fights or be confronted with something about yourself you never knew. The beauty (and curse) of travel is that we can experience it in many different ways!

    • Juno says:

      True. I’ve done different travels and everything has ups and downs. It’s just the one l love better, I got stronger feelings about Pros and Cons.
      Willing to embrace both good and bad, I think that’s the true passion!

    • FIGHTS? Jeremy – just what has Ian been telling you about our last trip?! 😉 Just for the record – I. Was. Right. I don’t even have to ask the subject. 😉

  5. Ah, the photo conundrum. We just realised that even though Jack and I have been traveling for a month there are only like 3 photos with both of us in it 🙂 And still plenty of self-shot of yours truly.

  6. Ceri says:

    I completely agree with everything you say there, Juno.

    The photo one’s a biggy. I look awful in pictures taken by other people. I just hate them. 😛 Yet you do want that picture of you in places.

    • Juno says:

      Isn’t it terrible? You, in the most awkward pose in the world with the most beautiful view.. Sometimes I can’t even look at them!!! 🙂
      Well, self-photo was at least I could do! Because ? yes we do want the picture of ourselves in the place!

  7. Rotub says:

    I recently traveled solo around London and Paris. I became a huge fan of solo travel because I was able to so exactly what I wanted to and change plans last minute or on spur of the moment without having to discuss anything with anybody else. Taking selfies on the camera is probably when I really missed having a travel buddy.

    Another point is that traveling alone means you have less chance of having people later in life to reminisce on the experiences and places you went to see etc

    I wouldn’t say no to traveling alone again although I don’t think I’ll plan for it either

  8. Ted Nelson says:

    I have gotten some decent photos with the photo timer, but that only works when there is no one around and there is a convenient rock. You look kind of silly doing the self timer by yourself if there are others around.

    • Juno says:

      Yes, I had several photos by timer but you know, it’s hard to be funny when you are a long and timer is blinking. Well, I managed to do one funny one this winter but i could because there’s no one around the beach.

  9. megan says:

    I know *exactly* what you mean with all these points, especially the food and photos! (and lol at the awkward picture of you!). Travelling on your own definitely has its good points, but sometimes I do wish I had someone else to bounce off! I can also sometimes be a little bit hesitant to get right out of my comfort zone when I’m alone – I’m much crazier when I have the safety net of someone else being crazy, too!

    • Juno says:

      I can’t agree more. So true, sometimes we are more free when we are in a tip of comfort zone. That is really a smart way to put this thought. 🙂

  10. Evan says:

    It’s been great having Rachel with me when we wander around. Sometimes I miss going solo, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything. 🙂

    She keeps me from doing stupid things sometimes, too. Haha!

    • Juno says:

      That’s so sweet Evan. 🙂 Yes I kind of get that feeling, when you are with a really great travel companion and that person happen to be also a significant someone in your life, it’s really amazing to be around with each other. It’s very encouraging!

  11. this is one of my favorite posts in weeks!! I sorta feel the same way you do sometimes. I love solo travel, but there are times when I need some sort of human interaction. And my problem is that I tend to go days and days and days without talking to a single soul sometimes, so it builds up.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Michael! Glad you enjoyed it!
      I know the feeling. While enjoying the solitude moment, having a desire to have a human contact is ironic but very natural feeling.

  12. Gray says:

    Yes, Juno, I agree. There are times when I wish I had these things when I travel, too. In the long run, I feel the positives outweigh the minuses, but it would be nice to have someone to split a meal with or take my photo or get a second opinion from. Those feelings are all very natural.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Gray. 🙂 I adore solo travel so much but these are just weak moments. Glad I”m not the only one who feels this way.

  13. Iain Mallory says:

    Totally agree it is always good to have somebody to share with at times. Solo travel is an amazing independent experience but sometimes we just want to be able to stand open mouthed when confronted by an awesome sight and then turn to a friend/partner & exclaim WOW or words to that effect 😉

    I am pretty sociable and stay in hostels so usually spend a fair bit of my time with people I have met along the way which is pretty cool too.

    • Juno says:

      True. Just want to someone to talk to, sometimes.
      I’m pretty social too. I was alone on the road but never lonely. Always met some great fellow travelers. But no matter how the travel buddy relationship is great, some what a little comfort zone is what I miss. 🙂

  14. Ah man, there’s so many great things about travelling alone but quite a few down sides as well. I loved travelling alone and being able to join up with other people for short periods of time along the way. That way I wasn’t tied to one friend and at risk of murdering them in their sleep after 3 months together.

    • Juno says:

      so true. 😉 Yes I like engage with people on the road as well. The short intense but deep friendship really got me. But sometimes I guess, I miss the comfort zone. Weird, huh? Someone who’s running out of comfort zone, yet craving for it. The complex mind is what makes us human I guess.

  15. Dominique says:

    Great article. I’ve traveled alone all across the US and it didn’t bother me because it is my comfort zone but I am getting ready to head out on my own overseas and these are all things I’ve thought about recently. So, you’re not the only one.

    • Juno says:

      Good that you can relate. I’ve thought about this for a long time and just now decided to spill it. Everything has both sides. Embrace even the bad side, that’s a true love my friend. 🙂

  16. I can totally relate to #1. People keep asking me why I never post any photos of my myself. It is because I find it incredibly annoying to try and explain to a stranger how to frame a photo exactly how you want it.

    And #3 we also share. I LOVE trying new food when I travel.

    • Juno says:

      Yes, that’s a huge favour to ask to a total stranger. So whenever I took a photos for any traveler of a group photos for them, I got really satisfied and mixed feeling. Thought, ‘I just took such a great photo for them. They would love it’ and also ‘why I can’t meet anybody like me when I want them to take a photo of me?’
      What a thinking, right? 🙂

  17. ayngelina says:

    I’m with you Juno! Sometimes I look at my photos and think – wow they are all outstretched arm photos!

  18. I love solo travel 99 percent of the time. The other 1 percent is just… lonely!

  19. Deb says:

    I travel with my husband so I can’t relate, however we have a similar dilema by traveling together, we never have shots of the two of us:) There are plenty of each other apart, but together can be a problem:)

    • John says:

      Well said Deb, it is even more difficult to get a good photo when there are two of you. Often while one half of the couple looks great the other is caught mid blink and vice versa. Travelling solo is always a great way to meet people especially if staying in hostels.
      But the grass is always greener on the other side….

    • Juno says:

      Yes that’s another challenge. 🙂 You need the third person to do the job!!! Isn’t it like a non-stoppable vicious circle??

  20. John says:

    Deb, yes it is twice as difficult to get a good photo of the couple as the solo traveller. Often one half of the couple has an awkward expression or is caught mid blink.
    Juno, sometimes we can all think that the grass is greener on the other side. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages of all types of travel.

  21. Joe says:

    Hi Juno,
    I love this post but it seems to me that all the downsides you write about solo travel apply to me too, and I travel as 1 of 5. I’m never in the photo (‘cos I’m always the one taking them!), I never order food (‘cos I know the kids won’t finish theirs!) I love a joke (but everyone moans ‘cos its always a ‘Dad’ joke. I’d love a second opinion (but 4 second opinions – no thanks!!)

    That said, I love it really, solo, couple, family or friends, it’s never gonna be perfect, but it can still be alot of fun.

  22. Dammit. You took the words out of my mouth.

    I’ve been travelling solo over a month now, and I like to think Im a pretty social person. I try to avoid hostels though, use them as a last resort. While I love the comradery, its often just one big party… and I dont want to be the loner who doesn’t join in the partying just because I don’t want to spend the entire trip drunk/hungover.

    And yes, photos either don’t have me in it, have me with my arm holding the camera, or are taken by someone who doesn’t really want to take it (and therefore has little photography skill).

    I’ve found however, that if I CouchSurf, my host will show me some local sites, and they are more than happy to take my photo over a conversation. Plus, because they are “friends”, I tell them its crap, and they have to retake it.

    Funny things always happen to me, mini-adventures… and for the moment, the only place I get to retell the story is in my journal, or when I meet other travellers later. Its not as good when you can’t tell it right-then-and-there.

    Travelling for two is cheaper as well, did you mention that? Not just food.

    I’ve never gone more than a day without human interaction though (conversation longer than 15 minutes). I can’t handle it.

  23. You wrote out my secret thoughts. All my pictures are the same or posed in a mirror. How many ways can you take an inventive mirror shot?

    I especially relate to sharing a joke. In general, you see so many random, cute, hilarious things that it would be nice to turn to your friend/partner and giggle over it.

    Glad someone wrote it for me. 🙂

    • Juno says:

      Glad I wrote it for you. 😉 Yes the mirror shot!! I forgot to mention it. I have so many (secret) mirror shot, with my camera. Oh man, the mirror shot..
      Yes, I really miss having someone to share the funny moment. I think that’s what I miss the most. Anything can be funny when you are with a right person.
      Cheers for all the solo travelers out there!

  24. I especially like point #3 🙂 I know in Korea that communal eating and sharing is a big part of the culture and something that I often enjoyed with friends when I lived in Seoul. I think one of the worst things about travelling solo is feeling sick and having to rough it out on your own. That´s not very pleasant at all. Anyhow, really enjoyed this post.

    • Juno says:

      So true. Being sick on the road is really not a nice thing. Gladly I haven’t been that much sick yet. Hopefully I won’t in the future too!!
      Glad you enjoyed it Samuel!

  25. Theodora says:

    I hope you make more friends that you can travel with, at least for some of the time.

  26. Michelle says:

    I travelled solo for years, short trips, and longer ones. I would rather travel by myself than with a travel companion that I didn’t really want to have around for 24/7 just for the sake of company.

    In recent years my travel desires have changed in many ways including where I want to go, and what I want to do while on my travels, as well I now want someone there to share it with, and have tired of solo travel.

    I’ve gone on group travel with others in the same situation and that worked for me as a work around.

  27. Ashley says:

    I’ve never traveled solo, but like some other people mentioned as well, even couples can’t get good pictures! We have a bunch that we tried to take ourselves and sometimes we ask others to take pictures of us – though they never turn out. My favorite is us in front of the Eiffel Tower, with the top of the tower cut off and a whole lot of cement at our feet. I didn’t even have a digital camera yet (!) so I didn’t get a chance to see how awful the picture was until we got home.

    • Juno says:

      haha yes I remember my manual camera days. I was using Pentax MX (full mechanical) for years and years before I got my first DSLR. I just didn’t agree with Digitals. And whenever I handed my camera to others… they don’t know how to use it and I just can’t tell everything on the spot. So what I got? Like you, just a bunch of cement or, relatively great angle but out of focus, completely. haha
      Ahh.. memories, right? 🙂

  28. Hey Juno,

    Very thoughtful and honest post. Popular too, judging by all the replies. And timely for me because I’m sitting here on my lonesome with Lauren in the Gobi Desert for the next two months.

    You can probably guess why we started Globetrooper.com (a place to find travel partners for adventure trips). It’s because we love to travel with other people. Lauren and I even consider us travelling together as solo; we much prefer to travel with other singles, couples or even groups. Why? Because you get to share the experience and have a ball together.

    I just don’t get the whole solo travel thing. I’ve done it before, I’m doing it now, and guess what? It sux. I could have used more eloquent terms like ‘enlightening’ and ‘eye-opening’ and ‘self-educating’, but ‘sux’ just seems to fit better. And I know I must seem biased because I run Globetrooper, but it’s the other way around. We started Globetrooper because we prefer to travel with others.

    You know what I’m really liking though (which coincidentally is a cure-all for the solo travel syndrome)? It’s the expeditions that The Adventurists run. E.g. the Mongol Rally that Deb and Dave from the Planet D are doing. Now that’s my idea of fun and adventure! Not only doing something crazy, but doing it with other crazy people.

    I really don’t know why more travel bloggers don’t travel together!

    How about an official call out to other travel bloggers to do something crazy together and stop travelling solo? Maybe one of The Adventurist expeditions in 2012? The Siberian one sounds like it will be nuts.

    Todd @ Globetrooper

  29. Alouise says:

    I love solo travel, but then again I don’t get to travel solo all the time. I’m sure if I was on an extended solo trip I’d probably want to have someone else travelling with me. I don’t think it’s a moment of weakness.

  30. Shannon says:

    And you think its impossible to take photos without your arm jutting through the pic? Ever heard of a tripod? (oh and there’s many kinds, they can even flex so you can wrap it around a pole, fence, branch, knob, etc)

    I haven’t traveled extensively (though I have done some traveling) you know what I find most annoying about solo travel, its like I have a bubble around me I can’t talk to anybody I mean not as a companion but I can still talk to them (well ya have to if you’re going to progress in y our travels!)

    I’d like to mix my travels with solo and paired up so long as I knew I was going to pair up real soon! But, nope I’m just a wayward soloer for now.

  31. Avis May says:

    Yes that’s another challenge. Glad someone wrote it for me. I especially relate to sharing a joke.

  32. Guy says:

    I have a ton of horrible photos of myself, taking with my arm extended, taken by a stranger with no photographic sense or by tripod.

    I always have a tripod on me but rarely bother to use it for self-portraits.

    The last time I asked a stranger to take a photo for me she went and posed instead. I now have a photo of a clueless stranger and a goofy story.

    Sucks but this is our lot in life 🙂

  33. Loneliness is the clear downside of travelling solo, but on the other hand you interact more with extrangers and force yourself to get over your shyness, meeting interesting people you’d never have met otherwise. My ideal solo journey would be The Camino de Santiago. A month _and _a_half walk starting from France, crossing Spain to finally arrive in Santiago. I use to see the pilgrims, walking in so hererogeneus (in all aspects) grups that I truly envy them. Unfortunately I’m not fit enough, and can’t afford it, either. But hopefully I’ll do it one day, as a solo traveler!

  34. By the way, how do you earn your living, just by writing the blog or do you work as a freelance writer for any specialized magazine or something similar as well?

  35. Sarah says:

    I agree with all of these! Especially 1) and 4) about the photos. It sounds selfish maybe, but I hate that people can’t take photos of me that are as good as the ones I take of them. Also, strangers…!! But I do have a couple of photos taken by strangers which are awesome. When travelling solo, especially on holiday, I try and get a photo of me a day, then I know I have some of me.
    And yes, the feature photos – won’t someone take a photo of me that I don’t know about that I look awesome in? Vain, but it’s a real felling!
    Also, the second decision thing: You need someone to share those “wow” moments with, definitely.
    But yes, I love doing what I’m doing and wouldn’t change it 🙂

  36. Flora says:

    I definitely feel like this sometimes when I travel. Its the plight of the solo traveller 🙂 But then I have more incentive to meet people and make new friends, so it can be a good thing too!

  37. phil says:

    Juno, I know what you mean on the solo travel front. There’s a compact solution to your solo photos problem. Get an xshot, a handheld monopod which is small enough to carry around in your pack. It changed my solo photos completely

  38. I feel you too, Juno! I’d been travelled alone one-two and all the above points described exactly how I felt when I was travelled alone. In between, is it the third photo of the foods you took in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia?

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