Lifestyle

Life || Traveling Alone

As an introvert, I like to sometimes joke that my ideal living situation would be as a hermit. But recently, I did something that absolutely terrified me. I traveled to a foreign country alone. Hold up! You readers might be shouting. You might be saying: You moved abroad, you’ve been on foreign press trips where you’ve known no one, you went to university on the other side of America.

And readers, that’s all true. But even though I knew no one when I studied abroad or went off to university, I had the enforced university infrastructure as a safety net. The same goes for blogger press trips. And when I moved to England for my MA, I had Sam and other friends that I had met when I studied abroad in England previously. 

This was the first time that I’ve taken myself off somewhere where I don’t speak the language, I’m entirely left to my own devices and I know no one at all. And it was scary. Getting sent to the wrong train and then waiting 30 minutes for a bus that *might* take you close to a hostel in the middle of the night is stressful. I may have been close to panic-calling Sam, but I didn’t. And when my flight anxiety reared its ugly head I kept my cool. Kind of. 

Here are things I thought whilst flying: “A panel is loose on the wall of the window seat that I am pressed up against. I will probably be sucked out the plane at some point during this flight. But if I’m buckled in, will the force be strong enough to rip me out of my seat? Or will the entire seat come out? If I’m sucked out of the plane, will I lose consciousness before I hit the ground? Oh no. I have a really bad headache behind my left eye. It’s definitely not just one of the migraines that I’m prone to. It’s definitely the early twinges of a brain clot. I wonder if there’s a doctor on this plane.” And so on went my busy brain. 

I knew that all my neurotic responses were rooted in the fact that I was anxious with no safety net. But I met the challenge. I spoke to strangers, despite that being my least favourite thing in every day life. I don’t even like to call the man at Papa John’s for my tasty, tasty pizza. I laughed at myself with my constant fumbling with a new currency that I didn’t really understand. (I still have to check my £ coinage and I’ve been here for nearly 7 years. Darn you 5p looking exactly like an US dime.) And I was also painfully aware that my Polish knowledge was limited to “pierogi” and “skelp”, and that I wasn’t even entirely convinced that I was pronouncing the name of the place I was in correctly. But I ate at a sit down restaurant without hiding behind my phone screen or a book. I had ownership over the fact that I was alone – and usually lost. 

Of course, I was only gone for the blink of an eye – just a quick city break, but I already have another one on the horizon. It’s to Dublin the time, where English will be my “sort of” safety net. I’m not axing my traveling companions forever, and to be brutally honest, I still have way more fun with Sam or a friend than on my own. (Who will take photos of me? Just kidding. Kind of.) But if it’s down to not traveling at all, or going at it alone, I’m entirely capable of being alone. 

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  • I have traveled alone quite a few times now and find that it comes with its set of benefits: you are in total control of the trip and are free to do everything at your own pace. No need to coordinate or oblige. Of course, it is always nice to have someone to share your impressions and special moments with, but when you have a choice of doing it alone, or not doing it at all, I’m with you – I’ll take traveling on my own any time.

    • You’re completely right – it is really nice not to have to coordinate with others. It’s a relief to just get to set your perfect schedule! x

  • 世事无常,但这个博客定能永保辉煌!

  • I don’t like to strangers on a daily basis either, so I have to push myself to do it every now and again. Travelling alone might be too much of a push for me just now 😀

    Lii
    https://byliil.wordpress.com/

    • That’s totally fair! There are definitely times in my life that it would have been much too hard a push for me too! x

  • So exciting! I enjoyed solo travel but haven’t done in for ages. I really should book another little trip in!

    • Once your life has calmed down a bit you should definitely book in a relaxing solo trip as a reward! x

  • Go you! It’s good you went outside your comfort zone! I’ve done semi solo trips before, but I’m preparing my first real solo trip as well and my main worry is being bored/not getting photos of myself haha

    • Where’s your first solo trip to? Haha I was definitely sad that I didn’t have any photos of me from this Poland trip. I just couldn’t work up the courage. Maybe next time! x

      • Work up the courage to ask people or to go full on with the tripod? haha I’m hoping for Luxembourg, but it may have to wait until next year now because we’ve planned quite a few trips for the rest of the year, trying to make up for not having a passport lol

  • Kourtney Reece

    My first trip alone was to London for my internship. The entire plane scenario is something I always play out in my mind. I like the window seat, but I’m always afraid that a part of the plane is going to rip off and I’m going to be sucked out, so I can 100% relate to that. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that has that run through their mind. I actually ended up going back to London by myself for spring break this year. I met up with two girls that I met while I was out there last summer, but they usually had to work so I was on my own majority of the time. I actually found it pretty beneficial because I could set my own schedule and go see what I wanted to see. I’m a huge introvert as well so being alone is always a plus for me.

    • Haha, it always makes me glad to know that other people think crazy things when they are on planes too! I wonder, if secretly, everyone does?

  • it can be a lot of fun to travel solo but it can also get scary sometimes:)

  • I love that you did this! I took on my first full solo travel (as in, not joining a tour) trip last November to Morocco. And it was kinda terrifying. The language thing is definitely what gets to me – I was trying to get a taxi, and the driver didn’t speak ANY English, and my French leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily, a passerby stepped in to help. The kindness of strangers is something I’ve experienced a fair bit travelling solo since!

    • I’d really really love to go to Morocco. What do you think would be your #1 Morocco recommendation? Interestingly, one of my girlfriends travelled alone to Marrakech and for various reasons, she said it was one of the few places that she’s traveled to solo and felt uncomfortable. x

      • Yeah, I definitely did feel an element of being uncomfortable, likely for the same reasons. It took some adjusting to, and I did tend to stick with the boys I met in the hostel. After a while, I realised the things that were making me feel uncomfortable were a ‘common’ way of life out there – not excusing certain behaviours from local men at all, but quite quickly it’s something I got used to dealing with and it made me feel less nervous/uncomfortable as a result. I really enjoyed seeing the country though, I stayed in a small town called Taghazout, and took some surfing lessons. It’s such a gorgeous country, and the people are mostly friendly – but I think I’d hesitate before going to Marrakech solo, as I hear that’s one of the more prominent places women feel uncomfortable.

  • Amanda, Amanda, Amanda. A pain behind your left eye on a plane is not a blood clot. It’s cancerous brain tumour that’s already eaten through so much of your brain that it’s now feasting on the delicious tissue around your eyes. Your only hope at that point is to rip the head off the person next to you to devour their brains, thus spreading the zombie cancer, but allowing you to use their brain tissue to repair your own and become a kind of sentient master zombie. Everybody knows this. Everybody.

    • You bring up a very good point. I was starting to stare down everyone else around me, trying to decide if I could identify who (if any) the doctor on the plane might be just by looks alone. x

  • No bloody way I can imagine myself doing something like that, you are so much stronger and braver then little ole chicken me, chicken I like chicken, just saying

  • I studied abroad in the UK a few years ago and I took quite a few solo trips. The first one to Brussels was pretty scary, but I understand French okay so I didn’t feel like a total fish out of water. I was nervous about Warsaw because I don’t understand a word of Polish, but I find that in big European cities most people have basic English. I never really had an issue communicating anywhere. Travelling alone is scary, but I think it’s such a great thing to do to prove to yourself that you can. There’s certain places that I wouldn’t want to go to alone, but I love that I know I can do it, and that I have a lot of freedom to travel on my own watch. It’s also nice to be able to do whatever you want when you travel instead of coordinating with someone else who may have different ideas of what they want to see and do!

  • Bravo for tackling your anxiety and completely nailing your first solo adventure! I am heading to Poland next weekend for my friends wedding and going to eat SO MUCH PERIOGI! xx

    Lynsey || One More Slice

  • It’s always good to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. I don’t mean to sound patronising but I think you did so well to push yourself like you did. And it looks like you had an amazing time!

    • Don’t worry – I totally get what you mean, it didn’t sound patronising at all. I’m so glad that I did! x

  • Wow brilliant that you’re confident enough to travel on your own. I’m not sure I would be, I’ve flown on my own, and got a connecting bus in the middle of the night when I went out to see Adam who was working in Turkey, but I don’t think I could have done the whole holiday alone! Very impressed! Alice xxx

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