The Millennial Mermaid: 7 valuable lessons I learned from solo travel

I almost didn’t want to go. For an extreme extrovert like myself, I dreaded being alone. Holiday season in the Philippines almost equals getting together with people. This was my biggest problem – nobody was available to go with me.

It has been my annual tradition of spending a week-long surf trip during the onset of the Amihan season. This is the time of the year where the waves get bigger and suitable for surfing.
Being able to control my own time, I didn’t want to waste this precious opportunity. I never got to do this before and whether in a group or by myself, I vowed to myself that I would go, so I did.

Here are the lessons I learned during the weeklong trip:

1 Don’t be afraid to invite people. It could be an invitation to come with you or if you just met them, have a meal together. One sincere invitation can open a lot of opportunities.
In my desperation, I actually posted an open invitation on Facebook (almost short of an advertisement). I didn’t end up going with people but I found that a lot would have loved to have the chance to go.

2 A smile can go a long way. I always believe in this principle that people, even if they were shy, would never turn down a smile especially if given by a stranger.

3 Go and ask questions. You’ll be surprised how people love to answer them. Keeping in mind what are the appropriate questions to ask a person you’ve just met, try asking the easy questions following the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why).

It was around my third day when I noticed again this lone surfer who stayed in the same resort. Since I kept passing him by on the way to the beach, I smiled at him.
When we were both waiting for waves in the lineup, I asked him a few questions.

He responded rather enthusiastically and I found out he was also traveling solo. I lost my longboard fin lock on my last day surfing and he gladly gave me his – you lose some, you win some.

4 It’s okay to be alone, really. It was quite difficult for me to adjust being just by myself. I was used to always having company around. Even if the resort was almost like my second home, the usual people I knew weren’t around at that time.

As the days passed by, I got to discover myself more than I expected. I learned that being alone made me realize that the only person who thinks I’m lonely is only myself.

5 Also, I could surf wherever and whenever I want. No matter the size of the waves, I could surf to my heart’s content. Since I didn’t bring company, I didn’t have to take care of anybody but myself. Sounds selfish but this was my vacation after all.

I tried not being too attached to my gadgets and so here's the only photo with a few of the locals
I tried not being too attached to my gadgets and so here’s the only photo with a few of the locals.

6 Talk with the locals: learn their way and make new friends. I had time for this now. Surprisingly, the conversations always ended each night with a movie as per their request (I brought a laptop with me because I thought I could work). I may not have worked as much as I could but I ended up with more friends and local tips (cheaper food, secret surf spots) by the end of my trip.

7 I believe that it’s not just the destination that makes a travel experience amazing, it’s also the company you keep. I used to think that it was only the people you bring with that would make the difference. Now, I’ve learned that the company you keep could be the very people you meet.