It’s no secret I’m obsessed with traveling (I went to Europe 4 times this past year). The rush of discovering a new place is something I just cannot live without. So I travel on.
I always think it’s funny when people find out I always travel by myself.
You are so brave.
No really, who’s going with you?
You’re an idiot.
Gasp away fools. I love traveling alone.
I knew so many people throughout my life who were fortunate enough to travel with their families multiple times before they were in college. I had only seen Virginia and the Carolinas before I finally got to go to Orlando when I was a junior. I had a lot of patience on reserve to be able to see the places I wanted to see. I made lists of countries in Europe and saved photos of castles to a special folder on my computer. I took French so I could speak to handsome French strangers in Paris. I was always prepping myself for that “what if” or “maybe this time” scenario when I would finally be able to go see the world. High school passed. Then college. I was 21 and was still the only person to remain standing on the outside of the circle in that “what do you have in common with everyone in the room” game when asked if I had been out of the country. I had seen every single friend study abroad and heard their stories about adventures traipsing across Europe, Australia, China, Brazil, South Africa….
When I graduated I had created a very short to-do list for myself to achieve very quickly. Buy a dog. Become a photographer for real. Travel.
I quickly checked off “buy a dog.” Best decision of my life. He’s so kind and my partner in crime. Seriously. He dabbles in pickpocketing.
I finally got some weddings and senior sessions under my belt before graduation so I felt like I was at least on the road towards something credible as far as photography went.
Then came travel. That ever so elusive daydream consuming my life since childhood. Dramatic, but you get the point. It’s overwhelming when you stare at a map of the world and try to pinpoint one place out of so many that you will go first. I never told myself “if.” There was no way I was going to tease myself with a possibility like this and then never allow it to come to fruition. So England happened. I went alone.
First of all, my friends were still in college and couldn’t just up and go to wherever I was going. Secondly, you do need a smidgeon of money to pay for flights and so on, so my broke college friends were still a no go. I had saved a lot during high school just to be able to do something like this. Alone I go.
Why do I love traveling alone? I get to be selfish. I don’t have homework to do or a schedule to follow or other people’s whims clouding my desire to discover more. I can do exactly what I want in whatever country I want (within reason). There’s something glorious about flying into a foreign airport and telling the customs officer you are on holiday, even if they do sequester you for 45 minutes.
I’m an observer, a visual being. I love assimilating into a culture seamlessly as though I actually belong. I was in England a total of maybe 15 seconds when I discovered I never wanted to be anywhere else (still working on that). I could wake up in the morning and watch the local news while drinking tea with biscuits. I could take a book to Hyde Park and sit on a bench to read until it started raining. Little things that seem so commonplace took on a whole new meaning for me while I went through England solo.
I also discovered flying solo had some pretty cool perks. Whenever I went to the theater, they always bumped my reservation up to an awesome seat right in the front row to fill that awkward one seat gap. In Ibiza, a man took me on a private tour of the whole island, a dinner party at a rockstar’s house, and bought me as many drinks as my little body could take (he founded Amnesia, the biggest club on the island). In Vienna I met another solo traveler and we spent the whole day exploring random places. He also saved me from being kidnapped (actually). I’ve gotten free dinners from restaurant owners and held a lamb at a children’s farm (I love petting zoos). I got a pass to come back to Windsor for free because I was such a kind girl.
Then I have all the worriers back home begging me not to go. Saying I should save my money or maybe I will get kidnapped or mugged or shot or something else horrible. I get a lot of people concerned for me because I am a girl traveling by herself to foreign countries. Well, I have seen some shady places at home too, but I have enough common sense to not be an idiot about where to go. I also don’t want to let fear consume my life and hinder me from seeing everything out in the world.
I just love being able to travel without worrying I am holding someone back from something they want to do, even if it is just a dispute over where we want to eat a snack. Don’t be afraid to see the world just because there is no one to go with you. I have met so many people in different places that I normally wouldn’t have if I had been with another person or group. You are free to see what you want, go where you like, eat however much you want without your friend slapping your hand no. I live such a crazy life, always mingling with people for work, trying to be the best little social butterfly when the job calls for it. What I really like to do is stand alone in the courtyard of a gorgeous palace, sip some tea, clutch my postcards, and wish I could have an accent as adorable as the little British schoolchild to my left.