On day 8 of my 10 days of solo travel in Scandinavia, I found myself complaining to a friend about the fact that no one was worrying about the fact that I was traveling alone. As a girl growing up in a relatively conservative Asian environment, I briefly mentioned in my post on my first time solo-traveling to Lisbon that my mother was quite worried and pretty against me traveling alone. However, this time around, even though I was going for 10 days, I think she kind of got used to it. She probably checked up on me thrice, and merely asked if I've arrived at my next destination or more importantly when I'd be going back to London. My father, well, he did not give more than an "OK" the both times I mentioned I was going to be traveling alone - I think its because he traveled alone when he was younger so he thinks I can do it too? Who knows.Oh and Disclaimer! It's not that I need or want my parents to worry about me and check up on me, of course. I'm just merely stating facts. Also, despite me having access to wifi, Jerald was not always actively responding - though he did try, lets just blame it on time difference.
Anyway, my reason for the whole paragraph above, was a lead up to an unexpected question being asked. My friend jokingly texted me saying "What? Are you feeling needy?" And my reply was "Needy? Well I need a lot of things right now..."
When I saw that text, I began to wonder if I was actually a needy person. I've always thought of myself as someone who is rather independent. I mean, I've successfully lived abroad alone without suffering any case of depression or breakdowns / severe homesickness, and truth be told, I kind of had fun! Even though I live away from my parents, I don't feel the need to constantly call them (and clearly they do not feel the need to call me either haha!) Yes, I love my family and friends, but I dont think of myself as some one who would be extremely dependent on them. So when I had to question if I was a needy person I felt a little...Odd.
So am I needy? In all honesty, when you're traveling solo, there are times you just wish you had someone with you. Your mum, sibling, partner, ANY FRIEND. I don't think its a case of being dependent. To me it probably arises from a case of inconvenience.
So, here are the top 3 not so fun situations that can result in one possibly being needy during solo trips.
ONE: Having to take ALL your belongings to the toilet/to buy food/everywhereThis is the worst. You have no idea how many times I'd just not pee during long train rides because I didn't want to have to take my laptop, camera, and handbag with me. In the event I do take them all with me to the toilet, I curse under my breath for the lack of space to put them whilst I'm peeing.
On the recent trip to Bergen from Oslo, there was a stop for food and I was holding a tray of food with one had, my luggage in another and my bags on my shoulder, whilst praying hard I don't slam into anyone in the crowded lunch cafeteria.
I mean its not that they'd get stolen. I left my computer at my seat once or twice when I got up to get food, thank God nothing bad has happen thus far, but you know, it's better to be safe than sorry.
In this situation, I would feel the desperate NEED to have another person there just to keep watch over my things.
TWO: Taking PhotosI almost never appear in any of my travel photos, apart from the OOTD shots (usually in the middle of a side street where there is no one). Sometimes, when you see a stunning view, you wish you could BE in the photo. Especially so, when I want to be able to go back to Singapore and show my grandparents, parents, family etc. and be like "Yeah! I was ACTUALLY there!"
At times like this, getting out my tripod to take a photograph is just too much, so I approach strangers for some help. Unfortunately, the photos don't always turn out good, and its obviously rude to request for 10 more photos because "the wind blew and your hair was in your face" or "they cropped of the beautiful scenery behind".
Again you wish you had a friend with you so you could help each other appear in pictures.
*I must say though, sometimes some strangers have SUPER good photo skills, and they take a couple of different shots to feature my outfit - without me telling them!
THREE: Wanting to Try Different Types of FoodMaybe this is a problem unique to me. I like solo traveling, but when it comes to meal times, and there are 10 things I want to try on the menu - especially since I'm in a different country and I get to taste their local food - I feel the neediness setting in. I'm not a very huge eater, I'm more like the person who just wants a small share of every type of food. Tapas style. I don't really talk a lot about food on here, but when I travel, it's a MUST for me to try local food. I'm one of those live to eat type of people. That's what my mum says. (I use to have a lot of body image issues and go on diets, count my calories and all, but in recent years, I've realised it was pointless, fueling my self-loath and damaging my happiness, so I converted and found the joy of eating! A story for another time of course.)
My point is, it sucks to not be able to have another person around to share food with. Again, at such times, I have the sudden feeling of loneliness and the need for companionship.
Otherwise, traveling alone is pretty fun!
I know everyone seems to have the idea that you'll get lonely, or bored, maybe both, when you travel alone. They also think that it is unsafe (thats another topic for another day!) But really, it isn't like that. There are times you DO really wish you had someone else with you, I'm not going to lie, but what you get is an experience you'd treasure for life, something incredibly worth living through the 3 situations above.
If you're not someone who is extremely dependent on your family, or if you would like to feel true independence/learn to be more independent, take a trip out alone. 2 days, 10 days, 1 month, 1 year, it really doesn't matter. I've met people who are shocked I'm 21 and going around alone, but I've also met people who travel alone at the age of 18 or 19 (straight out of high-school), and working in different countries whilst they travel.
Somehow, solo travellers will find each other, and its pretty easy to make friends. (No doubt there are also other times you're in a dorm with 3 or 4 other people who are friends and refuse to acknowledge you...)
Regardless, you do have the opportunity to meet a lot of different people, and when you do, your problems of needing someone disappear. Depending on how long you stay in one place and how flexible your schedule is, you might even find companions to travel with!
What I've learnt is, despite situations arising that result in you NEEDING someone, you can always find companionship one way or another. The guy beside you on a 3-hour train ride who happens to also be from London, or a friendly girl who plots out the route to the city centre for you on a map, or one that goes to get Swedish meatballs with you. It all depends on how open you are with interacting with people. If you don't feel too sociable one day, take heart in being your own companion and roam around the streets into underground cafes. That could be fun too!
Do not let the fear of loneliness deter you from exploring a place (be it in your own city or overseas) just because no one else has the time/schedule/money etc. to go along with you.