Eye-Opening Moments Podcast

Solo vs. Tour Group Travel (and more)

November 07, 2023 Emily Kay Tan Episode 93
Eye-Opening Moments Podcast
Solo vs. Tour Group Travel (and more)
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Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Solo vs. Tour Group Travel and Giving Up with a Twist.

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Hello and welcome to episode #93 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Solo vs. Tour Group Travel and Giving Up with A Twist.

Solo vs. Tour Group Travel
Alone, yet not alone, was I in Mongolia. I arrived alone to meet my tour guide and driver. Since there was only one of me, my tour guide, Neil, had all his attention on me. I asked him many questions about Mongolia, and he had all the answers. I was curious as to why the houses or yurts were round. I pondered why I didn't see another human being for hours while we were on the road. I wondered why I could only see Mongolian horses appear at the foot of a mountain only at a particular time of day. Neil had all the answers for me. I could sense his love for his country and his pride in being most knowledgeable about his homeland.

Since traveling alone, I had time to think, focus, and carefully observe the place I was visiting. Since I was the tour guide's only customer, he also had the time to answer all my questions. He probably told me more stories about Mongolia because he had no one else he needed to attend to. 

Neil quickly became like a friend walking by my side as we went from place to place. Even on a camel ride to the Gobi Desert, he was riding by my side, giving me more knowledge about his country. When we had to stop and start to walk on foot into the desert, workers took the camels, and we were on our way. Walking on the sand was an uncomfortable movement of walking up and down. I decided to take off my windbreaker and put it on the sand to lay on top of it at a slant of the dunes. To my surprise, Neil laid down right beside me and began conversing with me like a friend and talking about our dreams. I am sure he wouldn't have done that if there had been more tourists with us. It was just the two of us in the desert for miles.

On another day, when we got to a high place in the mountains, we stopped for me to see a steel statue of Genghis Khan. After Neil informed me of the man's history and accomplishments, I stood in awe of the enormity of the figure that could be seen from afar, much less close up. Neil patiently waited for me to take it all in without saying a word. I'm sure I would not have all the time needed to enjoy it all if there were others with us. I believe this trip was unique because I traveled there alone and had a tour guide all to myself. 

In another instance, I traveled solo without a tour guide from the city of Taipei to Taichung in Taiwan. I wanted to see Lavender Garden, which I discovered online while browsing for places to visit in Taiwan. I had to plan how I was going to get there. I had to research how much it would cost me to get there, what I would see there, and what was included in the entrance fee.

Since I was alone, I spent more time looking at every detail of the area. I was not hurried to move along since I was not with others or a tour group. I leisurely enjoyed some lavender ice cream and spent a great deal of time at the gift shop, which had many things made with lavender, such as fragrant soaps, shampoos, and lotions. The fresh smell of lavender was intoxicating. Alone, I enjoyed relaxing walks around the fields of lavender and delighted in the nature before me. It would have been nice to enjoy it with friends.

I liked the trip so much that I returned with a group of friends. The experience was not the same. We each wanted to go to certain places and decided to meet back up at a particular time and location. How was that like going with friends? We were not together part of the time. Because we had to meet up at a certain time, wherever we were, we had a limited amount of time and had to watch our time. I couldn't say I was very relaxed since I had to watch the time and ensure I returned on time. My friends and I got back together, where they sold lavender ice cream. We sat down, eating it in conversation. My focus was not on savoring the flavor of this unique ice cream but on where they went and what they enjoyed.

When we walked together to visit another area, one sauntered, two walked fast, and my pace was somewhere in between. So, even walking was not together. I wanted to enjoy the lavender garden with friends, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did alone. But I wanted to enjoy it with others!

On a trip to South Korea, I joined a tour group. While on the tour bus to places, the tour guide would tell stories and facts about Korea. Once we arrived at a tourist site, everyone was busy looking at places, snapping pictures, and chatting with friends and family. 

Ellie, the tour guide, was personable and worked to attend to everyone's needs. With thirty customers to care for, there was no time for individual questions or conversations with her. I was a lonesome tourist. I was with a group, but I didn't make any friends. I found that in Asia, in my opinion, people think you are weird when you are traveling alone in a tour group and wonder why you don't travel with family or friends. When I look at them, I see them snapping lots of photos and not stopping to enjoy the view or look at anything in detail. They are too busy taking pictures and being with each other to care to make new friends or ask locals or the tour guide any questions.

When I went to Shangri-la, China, I went with my friend Lydia. We signed up for a tour guide. So, it was just us, a tour guide, and a driver. This experience was unlike traveling alone with or without a tour guide. It was different from traveling with a tour group of thirty or a couple of friends without a guide. 

Since it was only Lydia and me, I got to ask the tour guide many questions. He did his job, and I felt he was on duty serving us. No doubt, my experience with Neil in Mongolia was unique.

I enjoyed traveling with Lydia for the most part. We were both interested in learning more about China, and I was glad we shared this interest. It was good to have someone also interested in the mysteries of Shangri-la and equally as thrilled as I was to have arrived in the utopia that author James Hilton named Shangri-la.

When I saw the museum house of a foreigner who had lived in Shangri-la for thirty years, I was fascinated by the many pictures and captions in the big house. There was so much to read, and I wanted to read it all. And I got to do so because Lydia understood if I wanted to stay somewhere a bit longer. She also had places she wanted to see longer, and I was happy that she had the interest.

From walking through the museum, I shared with Lydia that I discovered that James Hilton never actually went to Shangri-la! He read about it in a National Geographic article, took what little he knew, and created the fiction story he wrote about Shangri-la! I have to give him credit for unknowingly enticing me to find Shangri-la. Lydia and I were both disappointed that Shangri-la didn't look or feel like the utopia we imagined. But it was nice to have the trip, share the time there, and chat about it with Lydia.

Traveling alone or traveling with others (with no tour guide) has advantages and disadvantages. Traveling alone with a tour guide or with a tour group of many also has its benefits and drawbacks. And there is also traveling with a friend and a tour guide. Which is better depends on what you prefer.

I have tried each way and liked each one at some time and then disliked them at other times.

The best thing about traveling solo with or without a tour guide is that you learn much more about the place you are visiting and observe or notice much more than if you were with someone else. The most significant drawback is not having someone to share or discuss it.

The best thing about traveling with others is you have people to talk to or share it with. In terms of traveling with a tour group in Asia, though, I wouldn't say I had many people to talk to, but the most important thing was that I had the safety net of being with a tour group. Everything, including food, sites, and transportation, is planned out for you. When you don't have to do all the planning, it frees up more time to enjoy your trip than to deal with the hassles of planning.

After experiencing the different ways of traveling, I have come to a conclusion about what I would prefer the most and why. I'd like to have a tour guide because I know the hassles and time-consuming process of planning a trip. Even if you don't mind, a tour guide knows best where it is safe to go and their country's general rules or customs. When traveling out of the country, safety is first for me. I also prefer spending more time relaxing and enjoying rather than planning the trip!

Besides having a tour guide, I would like to travel with a friend or a small group of people I know. It would be best if they were interested in the destination and they were easy to get along with people. It is nice to share and chat about a trip with others. But you don't want to end up with people where you'll be arguing or disagreeing too much and not having fun!

Whether you travel solo or with others, it doesn't matter. Whether or not you travel with a tour guide is not essential. The most important is that you travel, explore, and see the world. It will broaden your horizons and enrich your life!

Giving Up With A Twist
You usually try and try, hoping that your efforts will lead you to what you want. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. If all your actions don’t work, you lose hope and give up. That sounds like nothing new, but what if you didn’t give up by choice? What if you refused to give up? How about giving up because it is worth it? And what is giving up with a twist? Simply put, it is giving up what you want to give up but never perceiving the need to call it out to give up.

I needed money to go to college. It seemed hopeless, but I didn’t give up. I used my creative skills and found the funds to get me there. I earned a Bachelor’s degree.

I worked hard, juggling a full-time job and studying to get a Master’s degree simultaneously. I kept at it and didn’t give up. My work paid off; I got a Master’s degree.

No doubt, consistent effort sometimes does pay off, and we reap the rewards we want.

I joined a network marketing business hoping to make millions of dollars; I was sold a dream and bought it. I worked at it for five years and barely got by. Still, my dream was strong, and I didn’t want to give up. I refused to give up because giving up meant failure, and failure was not an option for me. Giving up meant there was no more hope. And without hopes and dreams, what do we have? I never gave up, but the company went out of business. I was forced to give up. It was not my choice. The result of this smacked me in the face. It said that all my efforts and tenacity didn’t matter. It said that just because I worked hard didn’t mean I would succeed. I wasn’t going to win because the doors to the business were closed.

I was left with the pain of knowing hard work doesn’t always pay off. Worse, I was left with hopelessness. My future didn’t look bright. Would I ever try to do another business knowing that my efforts would not necessarily produce the desired results? Would I ever attempt a new venture knowing that my persistence and resilience would not necessarily have chosen results? The problem with a forced give-up is that your chance is lost, and you can’t try anymore. How can the damage be fixed?

Though I have learned that persistent effort, knowledge, and even talent, help a bit, they do not guarantee the results we want. There is that element of chance or luck to be at the right place at the right time with the right person or people. And we may not have control of that. Then there is faith, belief, or hope, that things will turn out as we wish if we don’t give up.

Faced with the colossal obstacle of a travel ban because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, I couldn’t move abroad as soon as I wanted. If I didn’t move quickly, my bank account would become empty, and I would have an even bigger problem. I almost wanted to give up because I thought the boulder blocking me was too large, and I needed to accept defeat. But if I gave up trying to find a way to overcome it, I would end up jobless and homeless. I couldn’t give up. My life depended on not giving up. With the help of a few people and some creative skills, I found a way to cross the border within the restrictions given. This was one situation where persistence, effort, knowledge, and creativity helped resolve the problem. But I remember that there are no guarantees because you don’t give up.

We often think of giving up after some effort was put out and the results aren’t seen. And the effort is usually put out to attain the things we want. Giving up usually appears to have a negative connotation. I hate giving up and typically persist longer than the average person. Because I tend to refuse to give up, I end up torturing myself or creating pain for myself through the struggle to get what I want.

I have discovered a new phenomenon about giving up that is good; I call it giving up with a twist. Sometimes, it is a good idea to give up! You may not have thought of the need to give it up, but it could be healthy and fun for you to give up! Am I making any sense? What am I talking about? While we hate to give up on what we want, what about giving up on what we don’t want? 

Give up procrastinating. Give up being late. Give up being lazy. Give up on the idea that you can’t do something. Give up on the idea that you are not good enough! Please give it up, give it up!

Since I am bad at giving up and end up giving myself too much pain, I shall practice giving up on the things I don’t want. I give up on the idea that I am unlucky. I give up on the idea that I am too old for romance. I give up feeling sorry for myself. I give up; I give up!

Perhaps through this practice of giving up on the things I don’t want, I can learn to let go of the things I like when it is not worth it or not worth the pain. Aside from persisting in what you want, giving up is not always bad. Remember to give up the things you don’t want, too!

Key Takeaways:Though each kind of travel has its advantages and disadvantages, experiencing them helps you know which you enjoy the best.

Though I find it challenging to give up on the things I want, I have come to learn about giving up on the things I don't like and that it is a good practice to have.

Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called From a House to a Studio Apartment and Remembering That Feeling. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!

Solo vs. Tour Group Travel
Giving Up With A Twist
Key Takeaways