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I went on my first solo trip in my 30s: What I learnt which I wouldn't have in my 20s

I went on my first solo trip in my 30s: What I learnt which I wouldn't have in my 20s
PHOTO: Unsplash

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to travel regularly in their 20s. While I don't consider myself the jealous type, I couldn't help but feel a tad envious when I had classmates or friends planning solo grad trips to Japan, Australia or Europe back in the day.

In fact, I never actually went overseas alone throughout this period in my life. I suppose I never had a yearning to do so. If there were no friends available, I would direct my finances elsewhere instead of scratching that travel bug.

As the social circle around me started settling down and getting married, I would only travel with my partner in recent years. Again, it never crossed my mind to travel alone.

That all changed this year. As a huge WWE fan, I was thrilled to learn that the wrestling promotion was holding a major Premium Live Event, just a five-hour plane ride away in Perth, Australia.

Ironically, I've been to Perth twice in the last three years with my girlfriend. Suffice it to say, she had no interest in going back there for a three-peat.

"You're on your own, bro," she joked. She would rather save her travel plans for elsewhere this time around, instead of entertaining my wrestling fandom.

Faced with the reality of embarking on my first solo trip, I decided to just #YOLO and dive right into the experience. Was I nervous? Sure. Did I regret it? Not! Here are five takeaways I had from my maiden voyage.

Comfort and convenience trumps being cheap

In your 20s, it was all about saving costs. Getting the cheapest accommodations, budget airline deals and sharing beds in your Airbnb are just some norms when you’re at that age.

In your 30s however, comfort and convenience become even more of a priority. Especially when you're travelling alone, the last thing you want to worry about is whether that sketchy motel you booked on a discount is safe to stay in.

It's worth paying the extra amount for privacy and security. Shoutout to Pan Pacific Perth for the hospitality! It was right at the heart of the city centre, within walking distance of all the dining and shopping amenities.

It's okay not to post your travel pictures on social media

Travel pictures are an easy way to spruce up your Instagram feed. While there's nothing wrong with posting your holiday content online, you're kind of missing the point of a vacation.

When you're dedicating an unhealthy amount of time to editing and uploading pictures on your phone, it defeats the purpose of a break. Instead, just enjoy the experience.

20-year-old me would have cared more about documenting every single thing on Instagram story or chasing likes for the clout. This time around, it felt so good to live in the moment, embracing the sights and sounds of a foreign country with my own eyes.

I was having so much fun at one point that I didn't feel the need to whip out my phone or use social media. It's a huge departure for me, which I'm proud of.

Embrace your alone time

Another example of growth on my part was feeling completely at ease with being alone during this trip.

Sure, it can be nerve-racking being by yourself in a foreign land with nothing but your wits to rely on. It also tests your ability to remain calm when navigating unknown situations or problem-solving. I had to trust my instincts and be confident when making decisions.

On the flip side, you don't have to accommodate other people's plans or stick to a schedule. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Some people are energised in the presence of others and too much time alone leaves them a bit off-centre. Perhaps in the past, I was reliant on other people to uplift my mood or feel excited about our itineraries. Seeing as how this trip was purely in service of my fandom, I felt incredibly validated and at peace.

Appreciate the differences in culture

I don't know about you but I feel that a certain section of travellers just can't help comparing their own cultures with the country they're visiting, whether consciously or not. When you're overseas, you're bound to encounter differences in lifestyles or social norms.

While you might not agree with certain values or ways of living, you have to keep reminding yourself that you are a guest in another country and you should respect that.

Hence, I truly believe that travelling alone opens up your worldview and encourages you to be more tolerant and less judgmental of others. Perhaps if you're with your friends and family, it might be detrimental to developing such a mindset since you're surrounded by what's familiar.

Find out where the locals hang out

On my previous trip to Perth with my partner, we went on the typical tourist route, visiting such attractions as Rottnest Island, Perth Zoo and Swan Valley. While I certainly enjoyed the beautiful natural scenery and wildlife that the city offered, I wanted to take a different approach to my solo adventure.

Other than the actual WWE show at Optus Stadium, which was the main purpose of the trip, I had nothing else planned. I decided to go with the flow and explore the city centre, observing where the locals hang out.

One thing I noticed is that Australians have a pretty rich coffee culture. It's normal for them to wake up nice and early to queue outside their favourite cafes for their morning latte or pastries.

I also enjoyed visiting Coles, a supermarket chain native to the country and discovering the type of consumer products that make up a typical Australian's grocery list. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to try Vegemite yet!

When it comes to solo travel, it all boils down to learning to enjoy your own company. If you've never gone to a movie alone or dined in a restaurant alone before, it might be an uncomfortable experience. Especially in your 20s, you might prefer it to be a shared experience.

But as you grow older and more comfortable in your skin, it can be the best way to honour and reward yourself.

ALSO READ: How to survive and thrive as a solo traveller

This article was first published in

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