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How to prioritise your well-being and reimagine your leadership style with solo travel

Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS, reflects on her passion for solo travel and how it has shaped her leadership style.

Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS, reflects on her passion for solo travel and how it has shaped her leadership style.



“I would describe solo travel as liberating. You make decisions on your own, sometimes spontaneously, and deal with whatever comes next — even if it’s something bad, like a missed train. Being alone gives you the space to reflect and observe. During a trip to Kyoto, Japan, I noticed how softly people spoke on public transport, out of consideration for others. It made me a lot more conscious of my own tone and volume; something that I continue to be mindful of even today.

As a leader, I value these quiet pockets of time for inspiration and introspection. They’re hard to come by, which is what drew me to solo travel in the first place. I embarked on my first trip around five years ago, shortly after I turned 50. I remember thinking that my whole life until then had revolved around others, in my roles as a daughter, wife, mother, and manager. ‘What am I doing for myself?’ I wondered. At that time, solo travel was all the rage on social media and I decided to give it a try. Of course, I still enjoy family vacations, but these solo journeys are now also a must for me.

Solo travel has influenced my leadership style. Not knowing things and making mistakes are a part of life, and travelling on your own can remind you of this. You gain humility.

Picking a destination for my first solo trip was tricky. Friends encouraged me to challenge myself, perhaps by visiting a place where English is not widely spoken. I also wanted to feed my natural curiosity about the world by going off the beaten track, albeit in countries that I had already visited. Eventually, I settled on Japan, which I’ve since repeatedly explored as a solo traveller, discovering new areas and landscapes each time.


I always challenge myself to try something different, like a driving holiday or not purchasing mobile data. The lack of a Wi-Fi connection can be challenging, especially when you’re so used to posting on social media. I’m a shutterbug, and not being able to share my vacation photos wasn’t easy. But I resisted the temptation and was thus more ‘present’ during the holiday. I’m glad I did it; I took some photos that I’m very proud of and will probably share them with my friends and family soon.

Of course, there can be moments of frustration while travelling solo. Once, I was lost in Japan and getting quite desperate because I couldn’t speak the language or read the street signs. Naturally, hailing a taxi — which was the easy way out — popped into my mind. But I had told myself at the start of the trip that taxis were a no-no. Somehow, I persevered and found my way around. It reminded me of my own resilience. Such experiences also teach you to accept that things will not always pan out the way you want, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying to make the best of the situation.

Planning these trips is a breeze with online resources. But I’ve learnt over the years that you can over plan and miss out on spontaneous experiences. It’s a new concept to me since I’m usually very particular about planning. Gradually, I’ve learnt to let go. I now plan about 80 per cent of a trip and leave the rest to chance. I think that approach is also useful at work, where we deal with curveballs at times. The recent pandemic comes to mind; even our best-laid plans had to change as the situation evolved.

Now that I’ve completed three trips in Japan, I’m looking westward, specifically to parts of Central Europe. I’m still working out my plans but I hope to embark on this adventure later this year. During the next trip, I might engage in a newfound passion. I’ve recently taken up art and might spend some time drawing and painting in another country.”


With the Year of the Dragon fast approaching, Ms Agnes Eu shares the traditions and memories that make the festive season extra special for her.

My most memorable Lunar New Year: I think many can relate to this — the first time I had to give ang pao (red packets)!

My most cherished Lunar New Year tradition: Family time. I’m the one who coordinates the gathering among all my immediate and extended family. The Lunar New Year just wouldn’t be the same without that big gathering.

My Lunar New Year wish: It’s the same every year: a happier one for all and peace everywhere. And as always, we hope to widen and deepen our engagement with the HomeTeamNS community.

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15th March 2024
12:21 PM

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