Travel Stories ,
Learning To Focus And Put Myself First – Lotte Huijsman
TravSolo aims to inspire through authentic storytelling, by sharing real travel experiences
Tell me a little bit about yourself: What do you do for a living?
Before I left home in January of 2018, I used to work for the Dutch government as a business consultant in HR and procurement. It was a comfortable life and I had a great time with my colleagues. However, I felt that there was more to life than that. Now I am a full-time solo traveler! I do take on freelance writing and editing assignments from time to time. On top of that I write for myself While traveling I also try to make myself useful by doing work exchanges by teaching yoga.
Solo Travel: What do these two words mean to you?
More than anything else, solo travel is a journey of personal growth for me. Especially when it is long-term. I have been on the road for about 15 months now. Over that period of time, I have experienced, learned and grown more than I could have ever done while living a more traditional life, in my home country. Solo travel has taught me to let go, get to know myself better, to live more in the present moment, connect to others and to take care of myself.
What inspired you to take your first solo trip?
For many years, I used to travel with my ex-boyfriend. When we broke up, I found it a bit of a challenge to match my interests, budget and availability with that of my friends. Eventually I decided to book a retreat at an ayurvedic center in Sri Lanka. From past experience I already knew most people attend these kind of retreats alone. That made it a more suitable destination for my first solo trip. In the end, retreats are all about focusing on yourself anyway. Something inside of me, assured me that I would be fine. My inner voice was right: it turned out to be an amazing experience that sparked my love for solo travel.
"I have come to realize that the people that I have met have made my journey more memorable, than any destination out there ever could."
Favorite International Meal?
I am obsessed with Indian food. In a few months I will be back in India and I cannot wait to have good dahl (lentil curry), palak paneer (spinach curry with cheese) and butter chicken again.
What was the most memorable and/or let down travel experience you have while traveling?
After so many months of solo travel, it is hard to pick just one experience. Some of the highlights are definitely the first yoga class I took in India, seeing orangutans on a jungle trek in Indonesia, getting my massage certificate in Thailand, learning salsa in Cuba and watching the pros surf Hawaii’s gigantic waves. Solo travel is not just all highlights. Like that time I ended up in an Indonesian hospital with a bad stomach infection (barely anyone spoke English) or when my suitcase got lost at an Indian airport. I have also felt lost and homesick plenty of times. But that is okay, solo travel has taught me that these moments always pass and that I am capable of taking good care of myself.
What is the most memorable moment you had with a traveler or local?
Solo travel keeps surprising me by introducing me to the most amazing people. Somehow, I usually tend to meet people the very moment when I find myself wishing for someone to hang out with. I am currently in New Zealand and I have learned a Moari proverb – “What is the most important thing in the world? The people, the people, the people.” I have come to realize that the people that I have met have made my journey more memorable, than any destination out there ever could. I have shared good (and bad) times with many people from all over the world. However, I have never befriended so many locals as I did in the south of India. People there are so curious and hospitable and have never felt alone. After several days I was already invited to an engagement party. It was quite the experience: me as a tall, blond girl in a saree and everyone wanting to take a selfie with me. I cannot wait to see my Indian friends again later this year.
What is biggest risk you have ever taken on a trip?
Solo travel is a bit of a risk in itself. I believe in the good in people - without being naive or reckless. That has worked out pretty well so far. Looking back, some situations might sound risky. Like when I got on a motorbike (no helmets in India) with a guy I had only met once, going horse-back riding through the mud in Cuba right after a cyclone and going out by myself to dance salsa in Colombia. I trust my gut feeling in situations like these. It has never let me down.
What inspires you to travel more alone?
My own curiosity keeps on leading me to new travel destinations. I am intrigued by other cultures and nature never ceases to amaze me. The world is soo big and there is so much to explore! So far, solo travel has been such a rewarding experience. It inspires me to keep on going.
What advice might you give people afraid of being on their own or thinking of taking their first solo trip?
It is better to have regrets about what you did do than about what you did not do. If solo travel is on your mind: go for it! There is only one way to find out if it suits you. I have never met a single person who went on a solo trip and hated it. If it makes you nervous to book anything; pretend to be booking it for a person that is dear to you. Arrange the bare necessities such as a visa, vaccinations and your first accommodation. Outside of that, I would recommend leaving as much room as possible for chance encounters and unexpected adventures. You will be positively surprised.
If you were writing a book about personal solo travel story, what three words would you use for the tittle? (Similar to Eat. Pray. Love)
Meditate. Meet. Move.
Thanks for reading!
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