I haven’t even been back from Hawaii a week and I want to go away again. That is the hallmark trait of the addiction we call traveling. Now when I am talking about travel I am not counting business travel. Many a business traveler will tell you it is not always enjoyable. What I’m talking about is the wanderlust that compels people from around the globe to give up their daily routines to see, smell, hear and taste the world. With that vast number of people experiencing the world comes a myriad of ways to do it. I decided to blog about this aspect of travel due to the varying response I received when I told people that I was going to Hawaii all by myself.
As I said, there are many ways to travel, though I would say it is safe to say that most people travel with others….staying in a hotel…often part of package tour…to a well known tourist destination. Nothing wrong with that – I myself actually enjoy that. Because it is such a common way to go the options, hotels, destinations and times to travel make it easy peasy. It is way the majority of people travel. So perhaps that is why I got some mixed reactions when I said I was going to Hawaii by myself and staying in a hostel. They were even more surprised when I stated that I hoped to “CouchSurf” – that is, staying in the homes of strangers for free. Some were amazed, some thought I was crazy, a few other were intrigued and still a few had done the same thing. I think what many were surprised at was not that it was unusual for somebody to stay in a hostel – young travelers do it all the time, but, I suspect because I am not the “typical” age of those who stay in hostels and because I can afford a package vacation. So I think some wondered “why?”
Well perhaps the biggest reason I wanted to stay in a hostel and Couchsurf is because I was alone and staying in a shared room or someone’s home allows me to meet new people and even hang out with them, even if for a short time. I can meet people I would otherwise never meet. Although I never ended up Couchsurfing I did enjoy my time at the Polynesian Beach Hostel in Waikiki. At first I kept to myself – this was a new way of traveling for me (alone), though I always smiled and returned a greeting when many would say “hi” to me. Soon I was learning the names and homes of those who were around me. I met a girl from Ottawa, a couple from the UK, a fellow from USA by way of Guatelmala and two friends from Wales who were working at the hostel until they return to travels in Asia. Some of these are now my newest Facebook friends (“Like”)! Would I have met people so easily is I was a packaged vacation? Perhaps, but I think the odds would have been a bit less.
The other great thing about going away by myself was that I learned things about myself, or as often was the case, reminded of what I enjoy and how I am. I was reminded that I do like my alone time but I still crave companionship. At times I was a bit lonely but as I got to know people well enough to talk with them that eased up. I also learned that some stuff I needed to do myself to know that I’m capable. The main reason of this trip was to if I was capable but I learned that even on smaller scale – like getting to Diamond Head or Hanauma Bay. Now some may think that that is an easy thing to do. And it is, however, doing those by myself built up my confidence. I actually ended up doing most things by myself – sites, going to the beach, dining out (I didn’t find out until before I left where the kitchen was in the hostel). It was the evenings I usually hung out at the hostel and talking with my new acquaintances. Some of the people I met I would like to get to know more and become friends with – perhaps in this day and age that can happen.
It was a good trip for me and I am so glad I did it. I had a few moments of doubt my first days (and especially since I was so tired) though now I know I can travel this whole wide world. I have changed one thing about my dream of traveling the world solo. That is that I want people to meet me along the way. Have my friends join me for portions of the trip. I thought, before this Hawaii trip, that I had to prove to myself and others that I could only consider myself successful if I went around the world by myself. I do not know where that came from or why but I know know that is a bit of a silly requirement of myself. I enjoy the compnay of my friends (new, old and yet to be) so why deny myself that – if they want to join me on my trip then they are more than welcome. If I do the trip solo then that is okay too. I will travel as I will.
PS: One more thing. When I say “travel as you will” I mean that – if you like package vacations then go for it! If you want to camp around the world, do it! If backpacking brings you joy – be joyful! Just remember to smile and say thank you to those around you.