Solo traveling revelations

Hello from Montenegro. I am sitting in my amazing hotel room after having a huge day by most peoples standards and trying to digest the mountain of meat I just ate, which is even more difficult because for the last week I have been eating almost nothing, I think because my outer turmoil created an inner turmoil. Which is a part of what this post is about.

This is not the post about travelling in Croatia and Montenegro which is what I am currently doing, that’ll come along with a little video and many many pics and I hope many witty anecdotes. This is a more philosophical post about what I am learning, and the unexpected direction such a short, out of the blue, almost unplanned trip has taken. I took this trip because I needed to get away. I needed breathing room from a life which I was kind of living in but also kind of not. I don’t live in London, I am not English, I don’t have a proper job or a group of pals I’ve been catching up with for years, or even an address other than my mums house, which for a 34 year old is less than empowering.

I needed to do something because although I had some fun and had met some really cool people, I kind of felt like I was living a temporary solution built on the existence of those with more permanent solutions. I was stagnating, and procrastinating, and I needed space to clear my head. And for some reason that ended up being in Croatia and Montenegro.

So far it has been nothing like what I expected, more than I hoped it would be, eye opening, and has made me question who I am and what I thought I knew about myself and my role in this life. All of that in the space of about 4 days so far!

At some point near the beginning of this trip I made the decision to say yes to the things I would usually say no to, and to become bolder in my approach to things. I decided to acknowledge that I have lived with an illogical fear which has no purpose in my life other than to diminish possibilities, and I decided to begin circumventing what has become an instinctual reaction to the things which I usually react negatively to.

So when my connecting flight from London to Dubrovnik was missed because the plane left late from Heathrow, instead of standing around idly until someone found me and ushered me into a corner to wait out the next 6 hours, I walked up to the nearest person and asked what was up. When that person who happened to be a beautiful woman started speaking to me and asked if I would like to come into Zagreb and hang out with her and her friends, instead of mumbling an excuse and spending the time alone regretting it, I said yes, and ended up meeting someone who I have now met up with a few times and had some damn good conversations with.

Plus I got to hang out with her mates in the capital. Although for them I am sure it was no big deal, for me it was an eye opener and one of the best nights I have had in a very long time. Which made me realize how far I have drifted from the person who I should or could be.

Since that first anti-me response, I have tried to carry on in the way I began, and had a fair bit of success with it. I have said yes to almost everything. When someone has suggested something I have just gone and done it. “Go see this” they say, and I get on a bus after walking up and down a mountain for 4 hours and go and see it, no excuses. “Go eat here” they say, and I do, and end up having a great chat with the owner who gives me a shot of a local drink and chats to me through my mountain of meat extravaganza.

A friend I met on the mountain, who’s relative I probably ate.

Even with my own thoughts, when I have questioned if I should speak to someone, I make sure I do it. And end up going to have a pizza with Joel the Aussie psychologist and we have a remarkably in depth chat instead of me sitting in my room watching TV alone. When the girl at the reception desk was friendly, I started a conversation with her and asked genuine questions which I was genuinely interested in hearing the answer to.

When a group of Russians on holiday showed interest in talking to me, I had a conversation with them and in the little time we spent together, felt like we became good friends and so ended up swapping contact details and taking pictures together before shaking hands and having a goodbye hug or two.

My new Russian friends.
My new Russian friends.

None of this comes naturally to me, it never did as a youngster and I guess I just cultivated that notion ever since. But now I have to give it a shot, and I don’t know if this is the me I want to be or become, but that isn’t really the most relevant part. The most relevant part of this whole 4 days (only 4 days!), is that I am figuring out what I do and don’t want from not only my travels, but my life in general.

I was sitting on the top of the old wall in Dubrovnik, no one else around and gazing down at this ancient city with the sea and sun breaking through clouds as a backdrop. And instead of “Wow”, I kinda thought, “eh…”. My first reaction to that was, oh shit, if I say “Eh…” to this what the hell am I doing travelling?! But then something which has popped up in my thoughts before and was brought to the fore by Franka, was the notion of it not being about where you are, but your frame of mind wherever you are. You could be sitting in front of one of the 7 wonders of the world, but if you are not happy, it is not going to make you happy.

View from the wall in Dubrovnik
View from the wall in Dubrovnik

I already know this, but it is not something which I have ever really had to put any emphasis on since I hit the road a few years ago, because I was having fun. But it has now become a major thing to acknowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, I love to see new things, but more than I ever expected it to, the relationships and encounters that come from travel have become more important, and actually, essential to my enjoying things.

I want to be around people, I want to meet new people, men and women, and I want to share the experiences I have with someone, or with groups of someones. Travel is enlightening for me, it has the power to shape my frame of mind in ways which the normal world never did, but only if done the right way for me.

I am enjoying myself on this sojourn from a reality which was not mine. I am grateful to be free enough to jump on a plane at the last second and explore parts of the world I had not yet seen. I am grateful for having met some great people already and for all the chance encounters I have had. I am thrilled and excited to have the life and the opportunities I do.

My life is astounding, my days and nights have the potential to be Earth shattering, almost every single one of them because of the lifestyle I have created for myself, and I am grateful that I am starting to figure that out, and even figure out what that might look like for me in the future.

I am grateful to see through my own bullshit and realize that my complaints are the creation of an untamed mind in the throes of an almighty upheavel, but that that upheaval is a progression to new and amazing things. Change is never easy, in our modern day lives, and in particular my own, the plethora of options which are available to us, to me, can sometimes seem like an oppressive force vying for my attention and making me question the choices I do make.

For years I fought this, or at the very least created a world which let me remain in an illusory form of stasis, which is an unnatural way of being in a universe governed by entropy, our minds are matter and matter must change, to fight that inalienable truth is to fight the laws of nature themselves.

So now I am changing, and although sometimes exhausting, it is liberating, I feel more confident and in control of my future than I ever have before. I feel more in tune with the person I am to become and have a clearer view of where that will lead me, even if the end result remains shrouded.


Travelling on my own is OK, it leads me to opportunities and people like the ones which have been happening on this trip, but I would like to make sure that future travels have a higher chance of interaction, which is something that just a few days ago was the complete opposite of who I thought I was.

Another big change; I am not going to book things unless absolutely necessary because it makes it hard to roll with any spontaneous encounters or plans which might pop up on your journey. Finally,  I am going to look at spending longer in the places I go, so that I can build relationships with the people I will inevitably meet there.

The very foundation of who I am has been rocked and this is all very new to me, but for the first time in a long time, I feel stronger, more capable, and in charge of the life I will lead. I know now that I will form stronger bonds and be better at maintaining them than I have been in the past, and that those bonds will have new meaning for me.

The old me at the airport clueless as to what is about to come.
The old me at the airport clueless as to what is about to come.

I still do not know exactly what the future holds for a man like me, and if this week has shown me anything, it is that this epiphany could be usurped by another epiphany in an instant. I still have no home base, no view to wanting one and nothing holding me to anywhere in the world. I don’t know what a relationship in this life of mine might look like, or friendships for that matter. I still have no idea what my life looks like past the 2nd of April, 2016.

Everything after that date is a complete mystery. More than ever though, I now know that whatever the future holds, whatever unexpected twists it might take I will be able to embrace it and change accordingly. Because if I can suddenly eschew a lifetime of being an introvert to become a social person, any fucking thing is possible.

0 thoughts on “Solo traveling revelations”

  1. Ty you must write a book I have loved reading all your posts and find myself getting so engrossed that I feel like I am on this journey with you. Super talents you have. Travel safe xx

  2. I love that note about how a new epiphany can occur at any moment. Just when we think we ‘get it’ a new realization hits! It’s disorienting, scary, delightful… it’s like we are trained to cling to a set of norms or put ourselves into a category or description or box. Oh this is me! No, THIS is me! Wait… This is the NEW me. The truth is they’re all you, they’re all who you are and who you’re becoming. Just different shades in different scenarios. Keep discovering! (P.S. Does the new you enjoy hugs more than the old you? Hahaha! Because I knew you were a hugger all along… Sending u a virtual one right now!)

  3. I am really enjoying reading about your journey post Sarah. Thank you for sharing your very personal and innermost thoughts with me. It’s incredible how universal your experiences are as I see several commonalities between you and I even though I have this other life outside of what I am currently doing. I am happily married and have two awesome teenage boys back home in canada but I I am currently in Mexico for two months of solo living on what I am calling my “mommy sabbatical ” I too am discovering parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. I too am having to put myself out there so I can meet people and not spend every night at home alone. What I have discovered so far is that we all want to be noticed, loved, admired and included. So when I am out there having dinner alone I’m going to have to figure out a way to talk to the person right beside me who is also eating alone. They won’t think I’m weird. Likely they will be just as happy as I am to have someone to share experiences ( or at least the rest of dinner)with. Again! Thanks for your stories. I’m listening!!

    1. Good on you for putting yourself out there, it is not easy, especially at first, to start talking to people at random.

      So true about wanting to be noticed, even if it can be intimidating or even sometimes uncomfortable once you are noticed, I feel like fading into the background and living outside of social spheres will eventually become very difficult to do. We are social creatures back to our monkey roots and beyond!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. and enjoy the mommy sabbatical! Mexico is a great place for it and I am sure you will meet plenty interesting people out there.

  4. Another awesome post, Tyrhone, and one that I related to a lot myself.

    First, kudos to you to putting yourself out there. As an introvert who is also shy (and they’re not the same, though they do play well together, don’t they?), I also have a hard time putting myself out there and talking to strangers. Even though I routinely find that the people we have met in our travels generally make for the best, most rewarding experiences (even moreso than food!). Still, I tend to wait for others to make the first move, and when you’re traveling as a couple, I think that is less likely to happen.

    Much of what you have expressed here is similar to revelations/ideas that I have had since setting out to travel, and especially when I spent that one week back in August by myself in California. When I was on my own and had to be independent my necessity (rather than choice), I found I was much braver and confident than when I have Tony with me, as I know can rely upon him. It wasn’t the same kind of travel you are doing right now as I was attending a conference, but I had a lot of time for reflection and there was a painfully awkward cocktail hour where I kept trying to force myself to just walk up to a group of people and introduce myself and chat… I didn’t, even though I kept mentally telling myself to do so, but what is the worst that might have happened? Perhaps I should have been asking myself what was the BEST thing that might have happened, instead. I hope that in the future I remember some of the incredible experiences you have had and shared with us, as you are clearly reaping the rewards of putting yourself out there. You are giving hope to the rest of us shy guys & gals out there!

    I think in our travels, Tony & I have both learned that better stories and better experiences generally come from saying yes. Sure, there are times when all you need/want is a night in with Netflix, but you can do that anywhere, even living a traditional 9-to-5, so whenever the opportunity for literally anything else comes up, I say go for it!

    Glad to see you are thriving, even as you navigate this new, foreign way of life. Thanks for sharing your journey, and I can’t wait to see what else you get up to!

    1. Thanks Steph, it really is surprising the things which can come from walking up to someone and saying hi, which is why it’s funny how difficult that first step can be. I started a conversation with a girl on the flight on the way back, and it became apparent pretty quickly that she just wanted to sleep and not talk (early morning flight), so I stopped talking, no harm no foul, and that is really a worst case scenario!

      I think the hardest part for me is going to be to maintain the motivation sometimes. I really enjoy meeting these people, but sometimes I really do just want to watch telly, the trick I guess is to find a way to meet these people and just watch telly at the same time :).

      Next stop Spain so lets see what goes down there, I am trying not to have expectations because they will inevitably end up wrong!

  5. Wow, it seems you have the perfect life that is full of wonderful moments, so never stop being amazed at Gods’ creation. Life has seasons and in every season joy can be found.
    Thank you for sharing your journeys with us.

  6. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and it’s been a great journey as an armchair reader.

    I can relate to this quite a bit. I tell myself I am a solitary person and prefer to have more alone time than not.

    But maybe the truth is I’m just following the path of least resistance – as it’s easy to do my own thing then try and find people to ‘connect’ with.

    Looking back, the best times always seem to occur when with other people.

    Good luck with you travels and stay out of your comfort zone – it seems to be working for you so far!


    1. Hey Joe, it can be hard to figure out what it is we know about ourselves, and what it is we think we know about ourselves right. As you say, I have noticed I always have my most memorable moments with other people, yet I somehow managed to make myself believe that I was happiest when I was alone.

      It is only since feeling truly alone I think that I realized that wasn’t the case, and that I had just been taking the easy way out.

      Thanks mate, I am definitely going to try not to let myself fall back into the comfort zone zone, which is damn easy to do! Sounds like you might be doing the same thing now 🙂

  7. Hi Tyhrone,
    Happy to hear you’re exploring both within and new sights. Though I’m an extrovert, I too, find it difficult to approach people depending on my mood and how I’m feeling about myself. Good On you for challenging yourself. It’s true, usually worst case scenario isn’t actually that awful.
    Also had the same realization in Croatia, after 2 weeks with my mom, I became a bit attached and the day she left,I felt liberated, excited to meet new folks…

    Keep on challenging yourself. So much awaits.
    If you come up to Basque Country, do give me a shout out. I have an extra room 🙂

    1. Thanks Lauren, even here in Spain now it is mostly working still, there have been some mixed results and it can sometimes be quite tiring to keep on putting myself out there, but I can already see certain results or the potential of certain results starting to come from the efforts I am making.

      And of course there are the small conversations and enjoyable tid bits which make up a day with people, even though small they keep things interesting.

      I might hold you to the extra room as I hear there is some good flying up that way and it seems I am going to be in Spain for longer than I expected!

  8. “At some point near the beginning of this trip I made the decision to say yes to the things I would usually say no to, and to become bolder in my approach to things.”

    This is so difficult at any age, for any of us. It’s so much easier to say, “No,” isn’t it?

    I just caught up reading your last several posts, so personal, so thought-provoking. Good for you for defining your path. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Thanks very much Patti, I am trying that’s for sure, I am not sure how success is measured in something like finding your path though and the destination is still very blurry but I am making my way to something, of that I am sure!

  9. Excellent post – this definitely resonates with me. My girlfriend and I have been traveling for eight months now and I can count on one hand the number of people we’ve truly connected with. We’re both so shy and it’s easier to just talk to each other. It’s amazing how simply saying hello to someone can turn into a wonderful day/night/several days. We’ve certainly never regretted the few times we have but still hardly ever do it. Note to self: Get out there, say hello to someone today. Thanks for this!

    1. Thanks very much Jaime. I am glad you got something from it. I am happy to say that even now in Spain I am still making the attempt, and most of the time it pays off in unexpected and pleasant ways. At the moment I am flying loads and meeting new people and having new adventures because I decided not to be a wallflower. It still isn’t easy sometimes and often I find myself wishing I was home watching Netflix or something, but once I give myself a kick in the pants I realize how great it is to not be sitting at home alone with me myself and I. I hope you and the missus have fun and meet lots of strangers! 🙂

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