06.20.16, BCN / by Shaun Ventulan

Traveling solo has its perks. Leisure and the freedom to explore with spontaneity is most definitely the best part. The sense of independence is beautiful, especially when it comes to exploration. Independence does come with its drawbacks, which not a lot of travelers talk about. When one thinks of travel, it's the idea of escape or masking familiarity with something abstract. The idealization of what life is all about is a common plague for travelers too.  

While getting lunch in a tapas bar next to my hostel, I made a friend - another solo traveler. Both jet lagged, we talked about our first travel experience as solo travelers. Despite all its glory, we touched on the subject of loneliness and the feeling of being homesick, which is both new to us since we've always traveled with company. During my time in the Tokyo and Bagan (Myanmar), I was with either family or friends, which negates the feeling of unfamiliarity and loneliness. At first, I thought it was only I who felt this way during my sleepless nights in Barcelona. I was no longer alone when she explained her situation and I gather that it is within normal to feel that way. 

Commonality is how you make friends during travels. From my recollection of my insane nights in Tokyo, where getting shit-faced was part of the itinerary, most of the friends I made had something in common. We all long for adventure and an escape from the busy metropolitan life, if not, we were trying to figure out what life is all about. My new friend and I decided to go to Park Güell to enjoy the scenic view of Barcelona. A 4km walk uphill was brutal, especially for her who wore sandals. After the torturous walk to the park, we were blessed with a gorgeous view of an old city with rich history and the never ending ocean that surrounds the city. At the same spot, we made a new friend from Colombia who is traveling to Lyon to meet a friend. As we debated whether or not to walk or take the metro to la playa de Barcelona, he asked an interesting question. Although I don't recall his exact words, it was themed after the meaning of life and what will I do after the journey is over. As we walked to the nearest metro station, we all talked about our history - who we are, why we travel, and where our next destination will be. The three lone travelers now became a trio. 

Although loneliness comes out in waves when in a country where you know no one, life does eventually lead you to find friends, and when you do, they tend to be life long friendships. Travel, no matter how long or how far, will always reward one with new friends. The longing for familiarity is what makes us human.