I just upped and went: the beauty, freedom and spontaneity of unplanned solo travel

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Pondering the next move: beautiful freedom or solo decision weightiness?

One rainy day back in Sucre I felt super flat. New friends had left and moved on and I was still sick. I sat sipping some coca tea by myself in the hostel kitchen, gazing out at a blanket of greyness, the odd flash of lightning streaking the early evening sky.

At this stage I had been living out of my backpack for eight months and I was having  one of those travel moments where I felt pretty lost and alone. Travel tired? Maybe. But did I want to go home? Where was home? Nope, it wasn’t a consideration. I thought hard about what would put the spark back into my travels.

A couple of days later I booked what I hoped would be my final flight for a little while: a one way ticket to Galapagos. Why, oh why, though, was I heading back to Ecuador? And why am I once again heralding solo travel?

Travelling with someone else is beautiful.Friend, partner, lover, whatever, – to share special moments on your journey is undoubtedly something to be treasured. I met back up with a friend in Brazil, someone I’d wandered with before. Travelling with them for three months previously had been easy; decision making fluid and compromise pretty unproblematic. No mean feat when we were in each other’s pockets 24/7.

But paths and desires inevitably take different turns and when my friend announced that Colombia was the next step, I wasn’t so sure. I did want to go to Colombia but there was the ticket price to take in to account (it required a flight) and there was my own personal journey to consider. And my gut instinct told me to do something different.

Three days later, I ended up on a bus making its way through Paraguay to Bolivia. It was one of the best decisions of my travels.

Travelling in a group is fun.Bolivia turned out to be a nuisance to my health but completely blessed in terms of the people I met, the landscapes and natural wonders that I encountered and the experiences that I had.

Strangely enough, despite all the amazing things that Bolivia presented me with, most significant to me were the other travellers that I befriended. Party people, caring people, fun people, thoughtful people, adventurous people, genuine people. People a little, no, a lot like me. We clicked.

Arriving into La Paz with a few of them gave a different angle to arriving into a big, South American city. It was more fun, less of a mission. So what if I ended up changing my plans a bit so that I could stay and hang out with them for a little while? Absolutely worth it. Lake Titicaca will still be there in a few years’ time, if I choose to come back. Hopefully some of these friendships will still be around too.

But then our paths started to part. If compromise with two of you is difficult enough, try it with a group of five or more. Nah, best to go get on with your own thing and meet back up to share stories and fun times when your paths next cross.

Travelling solo is freedom. When in Sucre I wondered what would really inspire and excite and challenge me. I suddenly returned to this random thought: I have my RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper qualifications, I’m a little scared of the massive oceans, I like to face my fears. Wouldn’t a Pacific crossing be an amazing adventure?!

Not having to consider anyone else, I got right on it. Within a few hours I’d started the research, within a few days I’d heard back from skippers who needed crew for the crossing, and within a week I had booked a one way ticket to the Galapagos Islands with no real certainty that I had a place on a boat.

But I had bucket loads of enthusiasm and a whole lot of hope and trust that life would deliver something special. If it meant I ended up stranded in the Galapagos for a few weeks, how bad could it be? A slight monetary concern, but little else.

This is what I wanted my travels and adventuring to be about. Freedom for my path to unfold.

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12 Comments

Filed under bolivia, brazil, ecuador, random, sailing, solo travel, south america

12 responses to “I just upped and went: the beauty, freedom and spontaneity of unplanned solo travel

  1. You’re an inspirational adventurer!!

  2. wizard

    very inspiring Finola. So many people could learn from your passion and enthusiasm. sometimes you just need to trust in life. what happens next? please go on.

    • Yep, sometimes one does need to trust in life and all the craziness and randomness that it might throw your way. Who knows what happens next?! … read on!

  3. liz

    so wonderful! to just “up and go”! i love how you travel. i need to make a trip, a year long trip, hopping all over the world. i neeeeeed it. 🙂

    • I felt like I needed it too… although I’m also starting to realise that when I stay put for a while, so long as I keep a tourist mentality, I see the place in a different light and its wonderful closer to home too. Enjoy your own journeys at home and abroad whenever they happen 🙂

  4. Pingback: How to waste 5 hours in Colombia | travelola

  5. Brilliant. I love the way you embrace all types of travel: solo, group or duo. You’ve nailed the best of each in your summaries. Love your outlook on life and travel. 😉

    • I’m learning that mixing it up not only keeps things interesting but is also necessary for ones sanity 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Welcome to my blog!

  6. susan

    from periphery to centre , building a cradle of trust ?courage; voyage; lovage !

  7. Pingback: Top 5: Natural Queensland, Australia | travelola

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