A lot of pretty incredible things can happen to you while traveling solo. Some amazing, some not so much, some life changing, some maybe dreadful.
A lot of people talk mainly about their amazing stories and how incredible their trip was, skipping the occasional disappointments and rough times. Well, guess what? The tasty mixture of all the flavors is what makes traveling so amazing – you need some bitter to taste the sweet 🙂
I ended up in numerous crazy, totally unexpected situations I had to deal with, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, read the amazing stories that 4 gorgeous brave women shared with me, telling you what to expect while on the road.
Girls On The Road – Expect The Unexpected
From a Nightmare To A Fairytale
Story by: Brittany Larson – Solo traveler with a love for painting, quotes, and burritos.
“My first time in Indonesia, I was taking a ferry and a shuttle bus to meet up with my Irish friend in Seminyak. […] When I got off the bus, I said goodbye, grabbed my bag, and went to go to my phone to tell him I arrived. Soon I realized that I had just left my little bag with my PHONE, WALLET, AND PASSPORT on the shuttle bus. I tried sprinting after it but had no luck catching up and was in shock.
I used someone else’s phone to tell my Irish guy I was there and when he came outside I broke the news. I will always remember he took me by the shoulders and asked, “Are you a good person?” I replied, “I think so…”. He then said, “Then we are going to get your bag back.” We called the company off the hotel phone over and over until finally the woman said that they had found my bag and a man was going to bring it over on a motorbike and if I could give him some small money.
I figured that all the cash I had taken out and my phone may be gone, but just prayed that my passport would be there. The man showed up in the pouring rain with his entire family on the motorbike with my bag wrapped in a plastic bag to keep dry. I open it up and nothing was even touched. The man even made me hold up my passport to prove that it was my bag. I was so overjoyed I was tearing up as I said thank you over and over and gave the man and his family a good chunk of money for saving me from absolute hell trying to get a new passport in Indonesia.
Last year when volunteering in a small town in the north of Thailand, our host dad had told us in little English ,’ Tonight. Buddhist festival. At temple. Music. Dancing…’ So I expected a small gathering inside a Buddhist temple with some relaxing music and a low key night. Before we were leaving out host family started giving us beers in plastic cups and said we were walking there. I became more intrigued as we left. We walk into the middle of the street and there is a big truck carrying loudspeakers blasting Thai music and all the locals dancing down the street with a giant tree made of money!
Right and left all the locals of the town wanted to dance with us foreign volunteers and kept trying to feed us friend chicken or give us more alcohol! Everyone was dancing and singing and laughing until we reached the festival and I could not believe that all of this was happening. Then we show up to the festival and it is an entire soccer field filled with all the people of the town, different food stands, and a HUGE stage where a live band was performing fast paced Thai music. We all ended up drinking and dancing all night on the stage with our host family and all of the people of the small town! What I thought was going to be a mellow night ended up being one of be best and most surprising nights of my entire life. So funny when your expectations are so wrong in the best way possible. 🙂
Bad Luck Himalayas
Story by Daisy Li, solo couch surfer and travel blogger
“I have always correlated the Himalayas with peace and quiet. However, my trip up there was anything but that.
In India, I met a couchsurfer who spent half his life searching for the best of the Himalayas. After convincing me to join him for a trip into the mountains, I happily took a 9-hour night bus into the village that he resided in. On the first day of the expedition, we misplaced our cells while taking a break from a 4-hour bike ride. After frantically searching for a working phone, we managed to dial our number. Unexpectedly, a woman answered the call and happily agreed to hold onto our phones until we passed through their village again.
So we went on our way.
On the second day, I managed to lose my wallet and passport. We traced our tracks for miles and miles, but got nowhere. Several hours and a mini panic attack later, we were contacted by a family that found my belongings on the side of the road a village away.
We retrieved the things and went on our way.
While passing a lake at night, our bike tripped over a pothole on the road and came crashing down. The review mirror broke and the engine refused to start. It was only after getting up that we realized if the motorcycle was going any faster, we would have been thrown right into the late.
Since it was late, we had to push the bike towards the nearest guest house and wait for the body shop to open in the morning.
Now, I’m no believer in ghosts and such, but I swear India is no regular land. My first two months there were latent with weird happenings – deaths, sickness, accidents and bad luck. It was no surprise that I was incredibly relieved to have made it to the top of the mountains alive!
And might I add, it was all worth it.”
- You can check out Daisy’s adventures on:
Traveling Solo: Expect the Unexpected
Story by Kelly Duhigg, full-time nanny and solo travel blogger
“This happened to me while I was on a train bound for the Lapland region of Sweden. Not surprisingly, the train was delayed for over two hours. Instead of freaking out thoyugh, I started chatting with another solo traveller who eventually invited me to share her hired car from the train station to her hotel. She even invited me to stay with her at the Ice Hotel and we had the best time ever as we tried to sleep in the cold. But none of this would have been possible had not opened myself up to new people and new experiences as a solo traveler.
But sometimes the spontaneity of solo travel is not so fun, like when I was staying in Lugu Lake in China. Sure, this area sounded super cool since they claimed to have one of the last totally matriarchal society’s in the world, but that was before I ingested the Kung Pao Pow Chicken of doom. I knew I was in trouble when my stomach started to do the Cha-Cha after I finished my food, and not in the good way.
Needless to say, I spent the next three days locked in the one, communal bathroom in the hostel where I was staying. Sure people knocked on the door but I just moaned in a way that told them to, “Go away”.
However, the real fun began when I had to actually get out of this remote location. I still wasn’t feeling well but just wanted to forget this entire experience, so I hopped on a 6 am van that would take me to the bus station.
But wait, there was a landslide that blocked the road. To get around this natural disaster, I had to grab all my stuff, hike over the landslide, and meet a van on the other side that would thankfully take me to the nearest bathroom, I mean bus station.
Suffice it to say that doing all this alone, while trying to bridge the language barrier, was not my idea of a good time. One of those times moments where I really wish I had a partner in crime.”
Check out more of Kelly’s stories:
Connect & Disconnect
Story by: Danielle – Solo Traveler
“I went out to lunch in New Delhi and wound up having another solo female diner – a local – seated at my table. She asked if I would watch her bag while she went to wash her hands, and we wound up striking up a conversation. We talked about politics, books, food, and everything in between for hours until the restaurant’s waitstaff asked me to turn over my seat. My week in India wound up being kind of a disaster because a government currency recall left me without enough money to do anything more than feed myself and get out of the country, but it was also one of the only places on my RTW trip where I really connected with a local. We still email each other almost a year later. I never would have made this friend had I been not been traveling alone.
A guy came back to my dorm in Santorini completely, aggressively wasted. Lights on and off, slamming doors, clambering in and out of his top bunk, spilling crap, and, most concerning to me, muttering misogynistic slurs. It was just me and one other person in the dorm. The other guy wound up yelling at the drunk guy and storming out of the room. I was completely struck by how differently men and women travel. The man who yelled didn’t think twice about telling off a jerk, but from my perspective, he deliberately antagonized a belligerent drunk man and then left me alone in a room with him all night. Everything turned out okay – the guy eventually went to sleep and checked out the next morning – but it was definitely scary in the moment. After that, I tried to book female-only dorms whenever possible. (I’ll also note that in a year of staying in hostels, I can count my bad experiences on one hand, so this is by no means intended to put anyone off staying in hostels.)
Check out more of Danielle’s stories at:
Indonesia – The Play Of Opposites
Last but not least, my story 🙂
While traveling there might be days and nights that will seem either like the best or the worst in your life. For me both of those were in Indonesia.
While I was in Kuta Lombok, my bike disappeared the first evening. Like most on the island, it was a broken bike, no plates, no insurance. I tried to stay positive and hope that I’ll find it in the morning, but some research on the Internet gave me a sleepless night and a almost a heart attack. Stories about people being scammed by locals, mafia and police alike, having to pay 10,000,000 IRD for the bike, being threatened, and their embassies being helpless.
In the morning I told the owner what has happened and he drove me back to the restaurant I’d left the bike the night before. The same restaurant where I’d already asked the people if they’d seen what happened to my bike, but they said they knew nothing. After some conversation in Bahasa it turned out that they’ve put the bike in their garage and asked me to pay 50,000 IDR “parking fee”. Having in mind the alternative, I happily paid the money, returned the bike and changed my homestay the same day.
After I left Lombok, I went to the next island – the beautiful Gili Air. My Indonesian paradise! One of the weekends there was the Gili Air beach festival, which looked awesome and was quite pricey. I did’t feel like paying $50 entry for the night and walked on the beach to see the stage and the vibe. Unexpectedly, one of the guards decided to let me in, even tough I didn’t have an entry bracelet! I was in, it was incredible, but no bracelet=no drinks. No problem! Half an hour later 2 locals invited me and my friends, and started buying us drinks. Turned out one of them was a very rich businessman in Jakarta and just wanted to have a good time. That night I met some of the most amazing people I’m still in touch with, we danced till the sunrise and beyond, swam together in the crystal turquoise waters, and went for a free seafood beach BBQ hosted by my new Indonesian friend! Definitely one of the best nights of my life, which didn’t cost me a thing and ended at 6pm the day after 😀
This is just a tiny example of all the incredible situations you might end up in while traveling, especially solo. Imagine the world of possibilities we have each time we step out of our doors! No matter whether you’re traveling in a group or alone, the world is full of adventures and the only way to experience them is tell yourself “I am a good person”, and step out the door.
If you want to share your unexpected story with the world, feel free to comment below.
In the meantime, please spread the love and share those inspiring stories.
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