Hi to those reading,
It’s been two years since my first solo traveling experience and I never really got to share my thoughts about it. Have you ever traveled alone? I’ve always traveled with somebody, I have terrible travel anxiety even when I’m with someone.
Rewind back to 2019. It was my first time living alone, due to my husband and I taking that wee break. I had never traveled alone before, and it took a lot of courage for me to book my first trip alone. It was only made possible because my husband took a few months off work and was able to cover my vacation days. I’ll explain about vacation as an expat in Korea another time.
Booking the tickets took a lot of thought. I knew I wanted my first travel experience to be somewhere rather safe and a short distance. From Korea, Japan is the closest and I chose there. It took a lot of planning, I planned every day and I knew for sure that I needed to buy one of those WiFi eggs when I landed.
Gangneung to the Airport
So, luckily from the city I’m living in (Gangneung) 강릉, there is an airport shuttle that takes you all the way to the departures gate at the airport. I was so relieved that there was a bus that got me to the airport 4 hours early. Okay, so 4 hours earlier is a bit of an overkill, but with my anxiety, I needed all that time to get myself together. Once at the airport, I checked in as soon as I could, got through security and found my gate. Having a few hours left until my flight, I found it easier to explore the airport (it was very small) got something to eat and chilled until I was ready to board. It was a very drama free time and my anxiety was kept at bay.
Arriving in Osaka
The flight wasn’t very long and once landed it was easy to navigate to customs and security. When I got out of the arrivals gate, that was when it dawned on me that I was alone in a whole different country. I had a mini freak out and managed to get myself together and find the WiFi rental kiosks. There were a lot of options but I went with a 50GB a day WiFi egg. I don’t remember the costs, but I do remember that I didn’t care. I just wanted to be comfortable and having WiFi handy meant I could use the translation app and also GPS on my maps.
Osaka Airport to the Hotel
My main train of thought after getting the WiFi egg was to make my way to the hotel. I knew that once I had found it and settled down, I could enjoy the rest of my trip. Luckily a lot of the signs had English on them and the workers were so nice. I was able to get a train from the airport to one of the main train stations. I’m pretty sure it was Osaka Station. Anyways, I won’t go into detail with all the place names as this isn’t a travel post, more of a “how my trip went” kinda post.
Luckily I had my WiFi egg because from Osaka train station to the hotel was a maze. The maps didn’t show you where to go in the station. I had to follow my blue dot and hope for the best getting out. Luckily, I didn’t panic and just followed the dot as it was moving closer to the hotel. And guess what? I found it! By the way, I found out a year later that the area I stayed in was prostitute central. I’m glad I didn’t know back then.
The hotel room was like a dorm, it had a single bed with a tiny shower but it was perfect for me as it was cozy and I found comfort in it.
I was able to navigate the Osaka subway and found all the places I needed using google maps. FYI Google maps is amazing in Japan, it tells you what train you need and when the train comes. It was a life saver and I got to see everywhere. I even ventured to Kyoto, the next town over using a bullet train. I was impressed with myself because I managed to venture out of my comfort zone. I had a wee blip when buying tickets to Kyoto.
There were numerous trains you could choose. I wanted to try the bullet train, and the tickets were so confusing. I used the machines which had English. It was easy to use until I got to the ticket gate. It wouldn’t work and the man said I needed another ticket. At this point I almost gave up and went back to the hotel but I made myself go to the kiosk and ask the guy what I needed to do. All I had to do was purchase this other ticket to get into the platform. Yeaaaaah, the trains are weird, they don’t include it all in one ticket. You actually have to purchase two separate tickets and insert them both at the same time into the machine. My trip to Kyoto was fun and I had a good time.
Since I was in Osaka, I HAD to go to Universal Studios. I had my ticket all booked and printed. I had a mini freak out because I knew I had to get there early to beat the queues. It was heaving with people an hour before the gates opened. Everything was fine, I enjoyed the park alone and nothing major happened until I left the park.
Oh boy. I went to the bathroom before I left the park and put my phone on the toilet roll holder. After leaving the park, I went to a cafe nearby, it was about a 5 minute walk. I ordered my food and got ready to take photos of it, but guess what? MY PHONE WAS MISSING!!!! That was when it clicked and realized that I left it on the toilet roll holder inside the park.
I explained to the waitress that I left my phone at Universal, crying at this point. She said it was okay and said she’d watch my food. I legged it back, I was a hot mess. When I got to the gate, they wouldn’t let me in. They were so rude and kept shooing me away. Luckily another worker, this lovely woman stopped me and asked what was wrong. I explained to her and she tried her best to help. She yelled at the ticket men and they let me in to look for the phone. I couldn’t find it. When I got back to the woman, I was in hysterics and she was hugging me. She took me to the information desk and they asked me to fill out a form with all the details. I wrote everything, told them I had a Harry Potter phone case and it was wooden. The picture was of my dachshund dog and even wrote down my phone code. After 5 minutes of waiting and me rocking back and forward because I was alone and wanted to go home, the man came out holding my phone. You can only imagine that relief I felt!!!
The man said that a Japanese woman handed it in after finding it. The lady had just handed it in before I got there. Japanese people are honestly the most loyal and kind. In other countries, my phone would have been gone. I was very lucky that day. I managed to calm myself down and the man gave me a tissue and told me to breathe and rest. When I left the information desk, the woman who helped me came over and saw I had my phone. She jumped up and down in excitement and we hugged. I said thank you so many times and I really wish I got her name.
I ran walked back to the restaurant because at this point, I was famished. My adrenaline started to fade and I was feeling faint. When I got to the restaurant, my food was still the there. The waitress asked if I found my phone and she also jumped with excitement. She even took my food away and made me a completely new, hot one. It was amazing, she was amazing…Japan was amazing.
The rest of my trip was fun and uneventful. Would I travel alone again? No I don’t think so. It was fun and a great experience once. But I think I’d rather travel with someone else. I had an amazing experience and traveling alone once in your life has so many benefits. You learn a lot about yourself and your capabilities.
If you have traveled alone yourself, please tell me about it!