Solo travel is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. You hear it so much before you go – “You’ll come back a changed person,” or “you’ll never be the same again.” Being the very stubborn little creature I am, I didn’t believe it. But as corny as it sounds, you really do come back a changed person.
You will be a bundle of nerves, and excitement. There will be times before the big trip that you procrastinate, pack and repack your backpack, have a mild freak out and start to wonder why the fuck you are actually doing this anyway! You will spend hours glued to your computer screen, or phone, to google every tiny detail, for every single possible thing about the destination you are going to. You will get overwhelmed about what to pack and have a specific Pinterest board titled ‘Travel Packing Tips and Tricks.’
You will notice that your family and friends will never tire of the good old saying “Stay Safe” and you’ll hear other advice that you really don’t want to hear. Some of these questions have you wondering about peoples sanity. If you’re an organized freak like me, you’ll be holding your intinerary as closely as you hold your passport. When you land in your destination, whether it be your first of many or just this one, you will be entering into the unknown. When those doors swing open and you take your first steps from the safety of the airport to the great wide world, you are and will be leaving your old self behind.
You will enter into a mind frame you have never been in before and you meet a person inside of yourself that you have never met before. You’ll discover that, that person is awesome and where have they been all your life!? Your eyes will open to a whole new way of life, you will see different cultures, try new and exotic food, and marvel over some breath taking buildings and views. The friends you meet will be friends for life. You will have holiday romances and you never know you might even fall in love.
I can only warn you in so many ways. You have to discover for yourself, that you will indeed not come back the same person that was the bundle of emotions when they first got on the plane. Your outlook on life will never be the same. You will never have the desire to go through the same motions, that some people call ‘real life.’ Your day dreams will be memories of when you were swaying to the live band playing reggae music in Belize, learning Spanish with the cute language teacher in Columbia, reading a book why the world passes by you so fast on the bullet train in Japan, or making eyes at that person across the bar from you in Mexico.
When you do eventually make your way home, you will notice that your everyday life will constantly revolve around saving and dreaming about your next destination. You might have one too many wines one night, and try and create that perfect pasta dish with the really creamy tomato sauce that you had in Italy. Only to burn the sauce, overcook the pasta and under season the whole thing leading to a flood of tears and even more glasses of wine. Unfortunately, a true recollection and not my proudest moment! I am the first to admit, I am not someone to look up to when it comes to handling post travel blues. One of the down sides of being a part time traveller.
When you start your first solo journey you have done hours of google research, your itininery neatly hand written in an adorable notebook, (that was way too cute not to buy) you will realise early on that you have in fact over packed, and you will start to wonder why you were such a neurotic OCD idiot in the first place. You will learn that the world isn’t as scary as you thought, a smile will light up your face every time you allow your mind to wander down memory lane and little pieces of your heart will forever be scattered throughout the world. Your whole being will always belong to travel.