How Solo Travelling Made Me a Better Entrepreneur
Oh we are mid-way through 2018 already! Are you graduating and planning for a well-deserved graduation trip? Or are you a working adult pondering on taking a break from work to recharge?
Wait! If you still have not found the right buddy or travel mates, why not try something different this time by considering a solo trip to explore the uncharted terrain? I believe you’d have heard many stories about how travelling solo can be a life-changing experience. The fear to make that move is always there, especially as we Singaporeans are always so “overprotected”. I understand because I’ve been in that situation before.
That is why in 2013, I finally mustered the courage to make that bold move of travelling alone to South America for two weeks covering Argentina, Peru, and Brazil. Many discouraged me to go solo especially when it was only me, a lady travelling to such a far place like South America. But I took some calculated risk after doing some research and went ahead!
A Trip Full of Learning Experiences
Besides admiring the awe-inspiring natural sceneries like the Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and the Colca Valley in Peru, I had to be wary because of the high crime rates there. It was a trip where I was on my own, in a foreign place with practically no safety net. It was just me, my backpack and a dusty trail. (Isn’t an entrepreneurial journey the same where it’s just you, your ideas and how you turn them into reality?)
It was a trip about constant learning and finding a path within the uncertainty of changing conditions. It was during the trip that I discovered and learned valuable lessons that helped me become better at what I do.
Regardless of whether you’re a fresh graduate or a working adult, if the thought of starting out on your own has been lingering in your mind for a while, I hope these lessons can encourage you to make that bold move like how I did.
1. Having an open mind.
I did not know what to expect but yet was excited to experience what was ahead. Immersing in a culture I was unfamiliar with gave me the freedom to go in with an open mind and experience everything as it came my way. Just like entrepreneurship, the courage to go out solo and do our own things is inside us. All we need is to look deep within and find it. We won’t plunge into something with a perception that we’ll fail if it was something we truly believe in and have done enough research on it.
2. Getting out of my comfort zone and rediscovering myself.
As a solo traveller, we are constantly being placed outside our comfort zone. I used to be very fearful of loneliness. This unique experience taught me to love myself more and strengthen myself from inside out. Just like starting our own business, it requires us to always be out of our comfort zone. We have to tackle new things all the time and we cannot let stress and anxiety affect our thoughts and decision making.
3. Ability to adapt to changes.
Being in an unfamiliar environment alone somehow taught me to become adaptable to the surroundings, the people and the food. Similar to managing our own business, we need to constantly try new things and ways to work. Things go wrong at times, but there’s no time to be upset as we’re still exploring an amazing journey. We accept things, seek solutions and make the best out of it. It pushes me to be a problem solver to conquer new challenges and become more independent.
My Greatest Achievement from the Trip?
I’d believe that hiking up the Machu Picchu in Peru was indeed a wonderful experience for me. This UNESCO world-historic site is located on a mountain ridge at an altitude of 2,430 metres above sea level. Getting up there came with a risk of getting altitude sickness, and to reduce that risk, I spent extra time at each level, to allow my body to acclimate to a new altitude.
Sometimes during our entrepreneurial journey, we do need to pause and rethink our strategies forward at certain stages to achieve the best possible outcomes. And the result?
Well, I managed to reach the site and experienced the most amazing serenity and embraced solitude. I was surprised by how my tiny body could actually brave through the tough challenges to conquer the quest. This hike brought great improvement to my mental well-being. Ultimately, it was all in the mind!
Safety Tips for Female Solo Travellers
We do face some challenges when we leave the comfort zone of home. This is especially so for us as women as we are bound to face more problems than men when we travel. But with careful planning and applying some street smarts can minimise the risks that we may face.
Always ask for help when in need but always trust your instinct. If a deal is too good to be true, or when you meet someone overly nice, they usually have other motives. Stay away.
Ensure that you’ve travel insurance. It always comes in handy in the event of an emergency. Lastly, stay sober at all times and if possible, learn some basic self-defence tactics.
In actual fact, a truly solo trip doesn’t exist. You’ll meet and interact with new people. You’ll learn about them, their culture, their lives, and gradually make new friends along the way. This is truly opening yourself up to new things and the true value of a solo trip.
Ms Eunice Yuen is an avid entrepreneur, currently managing a group of over 100 financial consultants and a team of 10 agency leaders. To find out more about Ms Eunice Yuen, please visit her Facebook Page or email firstname.lastname@example.org