Traveling the world is great. You can see exotic places, make fantastic memories, tell incredible stories, eat new food, learn new things and meet wonderful people. Traveling is one of the most amazing things one can do with ones life. Nobody has ever said they regretting traveling. Not only this, but it also help you understand how this crazy world around us works and operates.
But traveling solo is one of the worst things you can ever do.
I suppose there are worse things you can do, like commit murder, but when it comes to seeing the world, doing it solo is lonely, awkward and dangerous.
Take for example, my time in London. I had forgotten to restock my money belt before my adventures around the city and I foolishly "donated" £40 to "the children" of a gypsy woman in exchange for a little purple flower. Had I been with somebody during that time, the lady might not have stopped me and I may have actually been able to visit the Tower of London. Or at least somebody would have explained to me that I was making a terrible mistake.
Another reason why traveling solo is terrible is the eating experience. I've been to a plethora of restaurants around the world, from food trucks to fish-ball kiosks to themed restaurants to cockroach infested temples. The food has gone from everywhere from incredible to absolutely horrid, but with nobody with me to experience the food and culture with me, I may have well been eating cereal in my apartment. The stories are great, but how can you explain a Frankenstein themed restaurant full of monsters, zombies, skeletons and a crazed doctor as a host to somebody who has never experienced it? Not to mention it is sometimes incredibly awkward to be a minority skin colour in a restaurant!
Getting lost in foreign cities is another of the greatest things about traveling because you can discover quirky, off the grid things other people don't often see, like the Aventine Keyhole in Rome or the sewer surfers in Munich. But after taking the wrong train in Paris and winding up 45 minutes outside of the city, or having to follow a bus around Rome for several hours because you don't remember where your hotel is, or you end up in the wrong hotel all together, or you wind up at the Hudson River instead of the East River in Manhattan, or being stuck outside during a typhoon, or for some reason having an bio-hazard truck full of several armed soldiers stop feet from you... you really wish you had somebody there with you.
There's the additional threat of being robbed, mugged or kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Some parts of the world are not safe, and violence can break out at any time, like Eastern Europe, the Middle East or parts of Mexico. Some people target tourists specifically, with special attention to solo travelers. I realize the world isn't always dangerous and that the media love to hype things up, but sometimes it's best to be safe and do research before going into questionable countries or dangerous parts of cities.
Another is photographing yourself in front of the world's greatest monuments, like the Eiffel Tower, or the Statue of Liberty. Selfies are great at working around this, but a selfie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't nearly as impressive as a full bodied picture. It also is very difficult to make it look like you're pushing the tower back up, while holding the camera. Being with a group can remove this problem.
The last reason why, in my opinion, is what happens when you come home. When you come back from somewhere, may it be Cuba or Scotland or Rome or Cairo, you come back with a clear mind and a heavy suitcase; the opposite of what you left with. All the drama you left behind feels like they're eons past. But the drama, the stress, the cultural ignorance and everything you needed a vacation from is waiting for you. The worse part of traveling solo is this: coming home with nobody to relate to. During my Contiki tour, Flip called this the "Post-Contiki Depression". This depression is common, and can have devastating effects if you have nobody to talk to. When you travel in a group, you can at least connect through social media or letters and help numb the pain. When you travel alone, there's nobody but your pictures, your pamphlets and your memories. Within a week these memories will fade and it will seem as if your trip was a dream. Traveling with somebody can remind you that the world is much bigger than your cubical, that there's much more to learn and see, and that the world is waiting for you.
People will tell you traveling solo is the best way to travel, but as somebody who has traveled in groups and by myself, in over 12 countries, the memories of my time with my new friends are something I know will never fade. These are my best memories, and I would have never made them if I traveled solo.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.
To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.
At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.
During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.