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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

4 reasons to go solo travelling on your gap year with CanGap Ambassador Rina

Rina - 00:00

So a couple months ago I took my very first solo trip all the way down to Kyoto, Japan. I train hopped for 11 1/2 hours to get there all the way from Tokyo. I stayed at a hostel to save up that money and to make new connections and of course, I saw so many beautiful natural and historic sites that I will remember forever.

Hi, my name is Rina, I am an Ambassador here at the Canadian Gap Year Association and these are four reasons why I think you should also go solo travelling on your gap year.

Rina - 00:40

So my first reason is that you have full control of what you choose to spend your money and your time on. So for example, usually people travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto take the bullet train, which gets you there in about 2 1/2 hours, but also can be quite expensive.

Now, evidently I did not do that, and that was because it was this train ticket that I'd always wanted to try travelling with. These were the rules for the ticket, so for about 2400 yen or about $24.00 you get a full day's access to the JR lines, which is kind of like the main train service in Japan.

You can get on and off as often as you like, but you are not allowed to go on the limited express trains which kind of sucks when you're going long distances like I was.

I used this train to get all the way from Tokyo to Kyoto while stopping for brief sightseeing and like lunch stops in 11 1/2 hours.

I'm pretty sure that this would have been very difficult to arrange to do with someone because it takes very specific interests and values to want to do something as time consuming and quite frankly, exhausting. But the perks of travelling alone is that you can spend your time and money on whatever you please.

So for example for me because I saved so much money on transportation, I was able to go there for a couple of days longer, which was more important to me than having a comfortable seat on the way. But someone else might rather spend just two days there, but make it the ultimate relaxing retreat.

The same goes with the actual sightseeing portion as well. I was able to spend a long time in places that I really enjoyed, but at the same time skip places that I didn't really care for. When you're going solo, it's all up to you.

Rina - 02:42

#2 on my list is that you can really hear yourself think. I probably did more reflecting on this specific trip than I did the rest of the year combined.

So in this journal, I wrote down all the things that I was thinking while I was roaming the streets of this new city or when I was sitting on the bus travelling from one place to another.

In this journal I wrote all the things that I was thinking as I was walking around the streets or sitting on the bus waiting to get from one place to another. Or when I was, you know, lying on my bed, retiring for the day. When you're in a new place, I think your senses sharpen, you feel and experience a lot of things a lot more vividly and being alone for that experience allowed me to have the peace to indulge in those thoughts.

So if you do go solo travelling or really any travelling, I really recommend you keep a journal and you track all the little things that you notice because reflecting allows you to soak it all in and be more present in the moment. Plus looking back at it will be the best gift you can give yourself above anything that you could possibly buy.

Rina - 04:02

And #3 It makes you more confident. Now, this may not be true for everybody, but for me, taking this trip gives me something to feel so proud of myself for.

I think up to this point in my life there weren't a lot of things that I truly accomplished that I could take full credit for because I always had someone guiding me, helping me, giving me ideas, things like that.

But this trip was different because I had to plan and execute all by myself. Even when things didn't go as planned, it was up to me to turn it around, and I did.

Having that full ownership of my experience made everything that happened on this trip truly my own. Being your own boss and ploughing through a place that is not familiar to you is a really surreal experience and makes you realize just how capable you are as a person.

I think even after I came back I've became a little more confident in myself because I now trust myself just that little bit more.

Rina - 05:12

And lastly, when you're travelling alone, you make bolder choices. So I had an experience like this on the last night of my trip. There I was in the common room of my hostel trying to see if I could invite someone like a stranger for dinner.

I sound so creepy, but the people in the common room are very quiet like there was no conversation and I looked behind me and there's this woman looking up dinner options in the area and I remember being this close to just walking away from that woman and going back to my room alone.

But that day I decided to be that creepy and ask her for dinner recommendations, hoping that you know she would kind of sense that I'm on my own, I'm looking for a companion for dinner and asked me to come with her.

Now, it turned out that she was actually looking for dinner places to go with a friend of hers, so I just made a casual conversation with her and went back to my room, ended up being alone anyway.

Fast forward a couple minutes. I go back downstairs to, you know, leave the hostel for dinner and lo and behold, the woman is sitting in front of the elevator and so I go and talk to her just until she meets with her friend.

And then at some point in the conversation, she turned to me and she was like, “do you know this country called Canada?”

And I was like, Yeah? And then she got really excited because apparently she had lived in Canada for the past five years, and so she really, really loves Canada. So we really hit it off then and then a couple minutes into that, her friend finally arrived. He saw that she and I were really hitting it off and believe it or not, he was like, oh, “do you wanna come and have dinner with us?”

And so that day I ended up having this wonderful, wonderful dinner with two really cool people and then, because we were all staying at the same hostel, we went back and we ended up talking until 2:30 in the morning even though I had to leave early the next day. It was honestly one of the best experiences out of the whole trip because I still keep in touch with the woman that I met that night.

So yes, the moral of the story is, you make crazier choices when you're travelling alone and those crazy choices are all often the most memorable choices of your life.

Rina - 07:52

So I hope this inspires you to travel on your own or do something a little out of your comfort zone and your gap year, because trust me, it is so worth it! As always, thank you so much for watching.

Make sure to check out some of the other Canadian Gap Year Association videos, because they are honestly going to help you so much and. I don't know what to say, so I guess this is my cue to leave OK bye.

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