When solo travel sucks


sunrise over angkor wat

“You like beer, Miss Lauren?” a voice called out as I stumbled groggily out of my guesthouse.

Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I turned towards the noise and looked up in a daze – just in time to see an ice cold can of Angkor Beer rushing towards me.

Ouch.

“Oh, Miss Lauren, I’m so sorry”, my tuk-tuk driver apologised as I stared at the can rolling around by my feet in confusion.

It was 4am. 

Beer? At 4am? What on earth is going on?

I had somehow been convinced the previous day that it would be a great idea to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat that morning. At this particular moment, however, I was beginning to regret that decision. With little sleep the night before, I was feeling like death and being suddenly attacked by beer cans wasn’t making me feel any better…

I wasn’t allowed to feel sorry for myself for very long as I was soon being dragged outside by my driver, who was now pointing manically at the back of his tuk-tuk.

“Look! Angkor Beer!”

Attached to the back of his tuk-tuk was a brand new Angkor Beer advert.

“I am now sponsored by Angkor Beer. They give me big crate of 50 beers to thank me. Look! I have so much beer!”

He lifted up the seat, revealing a giant crate of beer in an ice cooler.

“Let’s celebrate!”

“At 4am?!” I laughed. “Maybe later?” 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t spend my morning drinking beer.

I had a sunrise over Angkor Wat to watch.

sunrise over angkor wat

Fast forward several hours and I was hot, sweaty and exhausted from my day of pretending I was Indiana Jones.

I fought my way through the swarms of children trying to sell me postcards and bracelets and clambered into the tuk-tuk, only to see my driver immediately leap out and come and join me on the backseat.

the bayon angkor wat

“Miss Lauren! I would be honoured to have you come visit my house now to drink my beers with me. I can invite my friends too!”

Ordinarily, I would have jumped at the chance and I know I would have had an amazing time. Had I been with friends, with Dave, or even with just one other female, I would have said yes without even thinking about it, but because I was on my own…

I hesitated.

Whilst I’m sure I would have been perfectly safe and that would have had an amazing evening, I just couldn’t allow myself to go.

How could I just follow a stranger to his house and get drunk with him – knowing very little about him, and knowing that my low alcohol tolerance means that after just one beer I can barely even stand up straight? I know I tend to do really stupid things while I travel, but there is still that 2% of my brain that occasionally forces me to make sensible decisions – and I just couldn’t ignore it this time.

I felt terrible as I awkwardly made my excuses and saw his smile fade and the disappointment in his eyes. I wanted to go, but the fact is that as a woman on my own, I just didn’t feel safe putting myself in that situation.

Sometimes we  just have to listen to our intuition.

I’m a big advocate for solo travel – I truly believe it is one of the best, and most important, things anyone can do, and I think most people should try it at least once. It’s changed my outlook on life, I now feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and I have so much more confidence – something that I probably wouldn’t have gained from travelling with someone else.

But sometimes, travelling alone can prevent you from doing something you really wanted to do.

And that’s when it sucks. 

 

Have you ever had to turn down an amazing opportunity because you were travelling alone?

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21 Comments

  1. Scarlett
    August 9, 2012
    Reply

    Ahhh that sucks – I definitely wouldn’t have gone alone either. Like you said, sometimes you just have to follow your intuition x

    • Lauren
      August 10, 2012
      Reply

      Yeah, it’s a shame as I’m sure it would have been badass getting drunk with a load of random tuk-tuk drivers!

  2. Waegook Tom
    August 9, 2012
    Reply

    I’m not sure that solo travel has made me not doing anything I wanted to do, but I sure don’t hesitate as much when I’m with another person or a few friends. I’m always a bit warier about stuff like getting ripped off – and also less vocal when it does happen.

    However you are right in saying that it’s important and that everyone should try it once if they have the chance. It has made me a lot more confident in myself.

    Also, beer at 4am after just waking up?! I’m getting a headache just thinking about that. Or a liver ache. Or both.

  3. DebbZ
    August 9, 2012
    Reply

    “Sometimes we just have to listen to our intuition”
    I couldn’t agree more, Lauren. It’s hard to turn down a friendly invitation but I would do the same.

  4. mandy
    August 9, 2012
    Reply

    We have intuition for a reason and it is important to listen to it. It’s rare that i feel at a disadvantage as a solo female traveler but i would have been wary too.

  5. Alouise
    August 10, 2012
    Reply

    I love solo travel too, but you’re right it can suck. I probably would have done the same thing if I was in your shoes.

  6. Kaleena's Kaleidoscope
    August 10, 2012
    Reply

    Aw, that’s such a tough call. I have been in similar situations in which I really wanted to do something, but there was some small part of my brain telling me not to. It’s always best to trust your intuition, though, it’s the smartest thing you can do as a traveler! But otherwise, that is an absolutely stunning photo of the purple sunrise! Cheers to that! :)

  7. Escaping Abroad
    August 10, 2012
    Reply

    This is a situation where being a big male comes in handy :) … then again I might not have gotten the same invite haha.

    I agree with your choice.. that wouldn’t be a wise one to make anywhere in the world.

  8. Penny
    August 10, 2012
    Reply

    Lauren I travel alone all of the time and what I know is this, if you don’t listen to your intuition, you will regret it. So good for you. I once went out on a boat with a bunch of guys and it seemed ok at the time I said yes, but half an hour later with a bunch of drunk guys and I’m the only woman, it was really awkward and weird. You did the right thing.

  9. Ella
    August 10, 2012
    Reply

    I think you made the right decision – too many women wind up in very bad situations because they’re afraid of offending someone. Sounds like you handled it with tact and manners though, so don’t feel bad!

  10. Laura @Travelocafe
    August 15, 2012
    Reply

    Yet another funny situation about you will laugh some time later.

  11. Diana Edelman
    August 15, 2012
    Reply

    I have definitely done this before and definitely should have done this more. It is never easy to pass on opportunities, but sometimes you just have to.

  12. Ali
    August 15, 2012
    Reply

    I totally agree that solo travel can be an amazing thing. It also gave me so much more confidence than I had before I ever tried it. But yes, it makes you a little more hesitant to do certain things. I’m all for pushing past my comfort zone at times, but within reason, and sometimes that means holding back if I’m alone.

    Also, I’m glad you made yourself get up to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. I hated getting up early enough to see it, but I’m so glad I did because it was so gorgeous!

  13. Monica
    August 16, 2012
    Reply

    I’ve never travelled on my own and I really want to at some point but I know there must be a lot of times like this when you’ve got to think about your own safety first.

  14. Reena @ Wanderplex
    August 23, 2012
    Reply

    You definitely made the right decision! I’ve traveled by myself lots and also felt frustrated by the need to be extra cautious and sometimes miss out on things you would like to do just because there are extra risks if you’re a solo female. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry and there’ll be plenty of other adventures ahead.

  15. Ian [EagerExistence]
    August 24, 2012
    Reply

    I would’ve had the 4am beer!

    And being a guy, I would have gone home with him to drink the free beers.

    But yeah, you did the right thing, for sure.

  16. Sarah
    September 1, 2012
    Reply

    I travel everywhere alone and yes got myself into some very bad and scary situations….

    But travelling alone is the best.. Noone to tie you down, get up and go whenever you want and its just pure freedom. You have a wonderful personality and that makes it easy ! :)

    Cant WAIT for more blogs !!xxx

  17. Turtle
    September 3, 2012
    Reply

    What a pity. As everyone has said, you probably made the right decision. But look at it this way: you may have missed out on a fun afternoon of drinking but it’s another step to becoming a strong independent woman who is a good judge of character and makes rational decisions.
    Although I would’ve had the 4am beer, if I was you… :)

  18. T Hall
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    Where did you find this Tuk-Tuk driver? Ours only supplied iced cold bottled water!

    I loved the Khemer people, they almost have a child’s innocence about them (what can you expect after all they’ve been through the last 2-3 decades). Still, a wise choice by you. :-)

  19. leandra / adbenturera
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    totally agree that you made the right decision… i am a beer/alc jug myself but only when at home, in PH or BAH…when travelling, i try to stick to water or will risk many stuff, LOL

    esp. for solo travel like urs, really need to be extra careful… kudos to intuition…

    and more safe & happy travels! i love ur blog! ^_^

  20. Laurence
    September 19, 2012
    Reply

    Free 4am beer! That’s quite the service :)

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