I know that, for the most part, I try to keep my blog as light-hearted and cheery as possible. But bear with me friends; this post is much more serious that I normally write. It’s about Solo Traveling.
Solo Traveling. That phrase strikes fear into the heart of many. So many things could go wrong. You could get mugged, or lost, or taken advantage of. It’s perceived to be twice as dangerous for a woman to be traveling alone than for a man. Many people would never even consider to go solo traveling, because they would be afraid. When I decided to take my own solo trip, that’s what I heard. Everyone told me that they were scared for me, that they would be praying for me. They asked if I could take someone with me, or just not go at all. They made me promise over and over again to be safe and smart, to keep in contact so they knew I was okay, to give them an itinerary so they would know where to send the authorities if I went missing.
Now, I’m not scared of much. I’m scared of heights, which is why I took up rock climbing, always insist on going to the highest possible point, and eventually want to go skydiving. I’m afraid of failure, but I attempt new things anyway. I believe it is important to challenge your fears, so that they can’t control you. I was afraid of solo traveling, which was a large part of the reason why I felt that I needed to take the trip. I had been thinking about taking this trip for about a month, but I didn’t really start planning or making reservations until two days before I left. I did everything myself, in an attempt to convince myself that I could do this. I passed around my information to make myself and my friends and family feel better. I packed up my things and I left, just like that.
I got myself to the Hatfield train station and then the London Victoria Coach Station. I took a bus to Paris and explored the city without a map or a plan. I saw so much of the city, places that I have read and dreamed about for as longs as I can remember. I figured out how the public transportation worked, without speaking French, and I found my hostel. I repeated my adventure the next day and found my way to the Paris Maillot bus station, and my bus to Berlin. In Berlin I did the same thing: I wandered around the city, I figured out the metro, I went where I wanted, and I did it all by myself. From Berlin, I got myself safely back to Hatfield.
At some point during the trip, my fear of solo traveling vanish, as if it had never been there in the first place. It’s an amazing thing to know that I can take care of myself. If I can make my way around a city that I’ve never been to before, where I don’t speak the language, then there are probably few things I can’t do.
I think everyone who has the means should consider taking at least one solo trip in their college years. Most people at this age are in a weird transition place between their parents and their future, learning to stand on their own. I know I feel like I’m stuck in some kind of limbo, when I think about how I am an “adult” but there are very few things I’ve ever done on my own. But I feel much more confident in my own abilities now.
As much as it pains my friends and family, I think there will be many more solo trips in my future. I’m not afraid of them anymore, and there is something wonderful about traveling and doing the things you want, without having to answer to anyone else.
For anyone who is still on the fence about solo traveling because of safety, remember; your trip is as safe as you make it. As long as you’re smart it’s not very likely that anything bad will happen. You do have to consider where you are going to travel – I wouldn’t recommend going to a war torn country – but once you’re there, it isn’t much different from being home. Don’t tell strangers where you’re staying or that you’re alone. Keep an eye on your bags. Stay out of sketchy locations, especially at night. But most importantly, remember to enjoy yourself. Solo traveling is an amazing experience; I hope you give it a try.
Bons voyages, and sichere renditen!
(Good travels and safe returns!)