In February of this year I booked a last minute one-way to London, packed my backpack completely to the rim (a mistake I will have to elaborate on in a later post) and went on my first solo trip around Europe.
Looking back at it now I realize that I had a sort of romantisized image of traveling on your own. I mean I’ve been reading blogs about it for the longest time and I was well aware of it not being easy. But I guess I was a little naive in hoping that leaving everything behind and going on this adventure might make me see the solution to all problems and “find myself” and come back a completely different person, to use these grossly cheesy words. I thought that being on your own would instantly make my path clearer, make you know yourself better and simply be enlightening.
My journey definitely was enlightening; I learned a ton, both about the world and about myself and I got stronger in many ways. However when I got back, I felt more lost than I felt before and to be honest I was quite disappointed in myself, for not having found what I was looking for. I still didn’t know what I wanted from life, had no next step figured out & I didn’t feel happy. Now in retrospect I can see that I found the things I needed to find at that time and that the disappointed feeling is absolutely unnecessary, I just went in with the wrong expectations.
In most posts I read about traveling alone, the general tone was very positive. I got this idea that I would feel confident, excited 24/7 and never feel alone. In some way I was, I was super excited, I felt confident most of the time and I met a bunch of very lovely people from all around the world for whom I’m so so thankful. But let me burst that perfect round bubble , for just a second.
First of all, traveling on your own costs way more energy that traveling with a friend/family/group. You’re making decisions on your own all the time, you’re adapting constantly and since you have no one to vent to, your head will be filled with new impressions en experiences, and processing them on your own takes a lot. After a week of constantly being on the move I was exhausted because I pushed myself too much and I needed a half day in bed with Netflix and a lot of food in a hostel in Germany to feel better. Secondly, walking with all your belongings strapped to your back, in a city you don’t know in the middle of the night is a little scary, I don’t care how safe a city is, it just makes me a little nervous. Finally, there will be days where you feel alone/lonely, you might simply not click with the people you meet, or maybe you just don’t want to make yet another new friend because no matter how much fun you’re having with a new friend, sometimes you’ll find yourself in a unfamiliar smelling hostel room with 11 strangers while feeling lonely because all you want is to cuddle up with your best friend and laugh at the inside jokes you’ve been making in your head all day. Because no matter how much we love adventure and exploring new places, comfort can be pretty great sometimes too!
But here’s the thing, if I could do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat! Because it is so worth it! I learned so much. I learned how to listen to myself and not want too much, too fast (dirty old habit of mine) & just take my time. I learned that doing scary things builds character and makes you more confident. Being scared is absolutely normal and a part of any adventure but its important to learn how to trust yourself! I also learned to enjoy being on my own. I like having a day to myself where I can walk at my own pace and take as much time taking pictures as I want without bothering someone else. On the other side I also learned how easy it can be to make friends if you just put a little effort in it and open your mouth. All it takes sometimes is saying “hi” or “bless you” when someone sneezes and before you know it you’re exploring a new city with your new friend Jane from Canada (true story, it happened at Starbucks!).
So if there’s something I want to you take away from this post is that if you’re thinking about traveling solo, than please take that jump and go for it! But be prepared, its not a walk in the park, its more of a hike through the mountains; challenging and hard at times but the view is absolutely worth it, I promise!
Have you ever traveled on your own? I’d love to read your experience. Also, if you have any questions about traveling solo or traveling in general please feel free to ask, I’d love to help out in any way I can.