Today I set out on my most ambitious adventure to date: a two week solo trip to Japan.
Yup. Two weeks. Alone. JAPAN.
I know, I know. A lot’s going through your mind right now and you’re not alone.
In the last few weeks, as I’ve told people about my journey, I’ve been met with puzzled expressions and an onslaught of questions.
The two major questions I’ve got:
1. Why Japan?
2. Why ALONE?!
Before my flight to Tokyo takes off this afternoon I want to address these questions openly and in doing so hopefully make you think a little bit differently when you plan your next vacation.
Let me preface this by saying that going to Japan was not a childhood dream nor a lifelong bucket list item.
To tell you the truth, Japan only peaked my interest as a travel destination within the last year. And even then, I didn’t settle on this trip until four months ago.
But there are a number of reasons why Japan makes a lot of sense for me right now.
First, this will be my first trip to Asia. My travels so far have extended to parts of North America, South America, and Europe. But as my love for travel has grown so has my appetite for seeing unfamiliar worlds and exotic cultures. After last year’s trip to Peru, Asia seemed like the next natural step for me.
I learned in Peru that going to a country that is completely different from your own not only provides an escape from a life you have grown accustomed to but also gives you a new perspective that you can take back home.
It’s a learning experience that will pay dividends for you personally, socially and professionally. And it’s this I hope to get from my trip today half way around the world.
When it came to considering the wide variety of Asian countries, I knew that many would provide the immersive travel experience I desired. No matter which I chose I would not be able to speak the language and would therefore be way out of my comfort zone.
Japan came to the forefront of other Asian countries I was considering for a number of reasons:
- Outstanding reviews from trusted travelers – Thanks Nita, Jessica, & Karl!
- The renowned culture and history – Shintu, Sumo, Ramen & More
- Weather during time of travel – April is Cherry Blossom Season
- Safety and ease of traveling around the country – polite people & high-speed trains
- Direct flight from Boston to Tokyo- 14 hours!
The more I read about the majestic metropolitan cities of Tokyo and Kyoto and the remote mountain villages of Hakone and Takayama the more excited I became. I booked my round trip ticket to Tokyo back in January and never looked back.
Now onto the second, and perhaps more intriguing, question: Why go alone?
Aren’t I afraid? Don’t I have any friends that would go? Wouldn’t it be easier if I had someone to go with me?
These are all legitimate questions that deserve to be answered.
First, I’d like to let you know that I did not always travel alone. In fact, I had never traveled alone until a trip to San Francisco back in the spring of 2015.
Before that trip I was just like you. I looked on in wonder at all the people on Instagram who were seemingly conquering the world one solo trip at a time.
But that one trip to San Francisco was enough to get me hooked. I loved what solo traveling did for me.
It allowed me to create my own itinerary and timeframe for travel. It made me more responsible while planning a trip and navigating cities. And most importantly, it forced me to become a part of the culture and the city that I had arrived in.
I had to meet people. I had to ask questions. I had to break out of my shell.
Since that trip to San Francisco, I went on several other domestic solo trips to D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago. After I had mastered the domestic scene, I was ready to take the next step and flew to Peru last summer as I mentioned above.
That trip to Peru was undoubtedly one of the most momentous events in my life. I experienced a foreign culture and language, met many likeminded travelers, and (barely) survived a trekked to Machu Picchu.
I found out then that solo trips are more than just discovering a new land, but about discovering a new version of yourself.
It gives you a chance to reset. A chance to transform. A chance to grow.
And as I make last minute preparations for this trip to Japan, I anticipate yet another chapter of discovery for me.
Sure, there will be challenges. Sure there will be moments of loneliness. It is not all glory, I will admit.
But in aggregate, it’s always worth it.
And if you’re willing to take flight on your own journey I’m sure you’ll witness the same freedom, wonder and enlightenment that I have.
And the best part about solo travel? It’s all up to you.
So, are you ready to take flight?
Are you ready for your own transformation?