My boyfriend and I decided to spend a few days in Buenos Aires and Uruguay for the holidays. We were both in a funk, emotionally and professionally, so I was hoping this trip would ignite some passion back into our lives. Just a few days before our trip, he had issues with his job and needed to cut it trip short. I was disappointed but that didn't stop me from continuing on to Uruguay.
Traveling is about the people you connect with along the way and going solo allows you to meet more people. Nobody likes to be a third-wheeler when you’re with your boo.
When you’re by yourself, you can let your guards down. There's no reason for you to act a certain way. The only way is to be you. You end up expressing more and sharing secrets that only your best friends know. Everyone has struggled and failed. Each person has something to teach you.
6 Lessons I've Learned from the People I Met while Traveling Alone
1. The older Argentine who bought me an alfajor (Argentinian cookie) on our boat ride to Uruguay. We talked about the current situation in Buenos Aires and his hope for the country with the new president, Mauricio Macri.
He also dreams about South America becoming ONE country instead of a continent divided by borders. He believes people are more alike than different. Thanks for reminding me to hope for something bigger than myself.
2. The hippie from Minnesota who now lives in Uruguay. We sat next to each other on the bus from Montevideo to Punta del Diablo and talked nonstop for 4 hours. He played professional hockey. He loved the game until it was no longer fun for him. The pressure got to him and it made him aggressive. So, he quit and moved out to California to work in a bagel shop.
Later, he moved to Australia. When his money ran out, he met buskers who showed him how to make money by being at the right place and time. He learned unconventional ways of making money by selling his art.
Now, he is part of a collective community in the middle of Uruguay where they live off the land. He bought a piece of land and is building his first house with his partner. He doesn't think he could afford his first property at this age if he'd be in the states. Thanks for reminding me that it’s not crazy to quit your job and travel the world.
3. Two girls from Uruguay and Paraguay. Maria and Ale met ten years ago at a conference in Europe. They maintained their friendship and met for the first time in the hostel where I was staying. They invited me to dinners and we spoke in Spanglish about boys, love, and whatnot.
Thanks for reminding me what real friendship is. You don’t constantly have to see your friend but when you do, you pick up where you left off.
4. The only other Asian girl from NYC. First, there were no Asians in Uruguay. It was the first country I’ve been to where I haven't seen any Chinese restaurants. So to meet this girl, who literally works 3 blocks away from my old office in NYC, was nuts.
Not to pigeonhole her but she is like the daughter that my mom always dreamt of — an Ivy League grad who is making lots of money. She works and breathes investment.
Thanks for reminding me what passion looks like. Even though finance might not be for everyone (definitely not me), she was excited to talk about her job and you could see her sense of proudness. I’m hoping to find a job that will make me tick.
5. The 3 Brazilians boys on their first road trip together. They invited me to join them to Cabo Polonio. We spent the day drinking caipirinhas, discussing Brazilian politics, and soaking up the sun (though, a little too much because I got sunburnt). The day was perfect. But with traveling, you part ways and move to the next destination.
After a few days, I headed to a new hostel in Punta del Este. I met people right away at the hostel and then the folks were all heading out to the club at 3AM (way past my bedtime). I don't really like clubs but it was my last day so why not. The scene reminded me of Miami. The people were beautiful and the music was loud.
Out of nowhere, I couldn’t believe who I bumped into - the 3 Brazilian boys! For the rest of the night, it was like scenes from Pitbull's music video. We danced till the sun came out. It was hilarious how people were wearing sunglasses in the club because of the sun shining at their faces. We finally left the club at 8AM, blasted Brazilian trap music in the car, and jumped into the beach. Thank you, boys, for reminding me to say yes more than no.
6. Me, myself, and I. Yes, that’s right. Though I’ve met many travelers along the way, there were days I chilled by myself at the beach, journaled, ate alone, and spent days hiking and biking through the forest. I reflected on my year living in South America and gave myself a pad on my back. There were so many times I felt lost or questioned my choices. I didn't know how to cope and people from home couldn't understand it. My friends thought I was living the dream. This was a quiet reminder of my small wins and chilling the beep out. I don’t need more inspirational quotes or listicles telling me where and what I should be doing. I am what I am until I’m not.
Tell me your reasons for traveling alone. What are your favorite moments? I'm always interested in hearing your thoughts so comment away!