4 Things I Learned Solo Traveling For the First Time

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Venice was something else.

I didn’t tell my parents I was solo traveling until the plane took off. I sent a quick selfie to the family group chat, said goodbye and turned off my phone. Suffice to say, they weren’t thrilled.

The day I booked the tickets, my mind wasn’t working right. I had been crying, worried, angry at myself. It could’ve been anywhere. I had been looking at Oslo the night before but the tickets to Venice were cheap - a return from Bristol was only £24. That Saturday morning, I booked the flights and the following Monday, I left.

I never thought solo traveling was for me, I imagined someone else tagging along but this was a trip I had to do myself. It was a necessity. Four short days in Venice, Italy left me better than ever.

Here’s why.

1. It’s terrifying.

The first thing I did when the plane landed in Venice that late evening was break my portable charger. I had tripped on my way to Immigration, which took so long I almost missed my bus to the hostel. 

Not a great start to my trip.

When traveling alone, there is an underlying tone of fear. I clutched my backpack, had no valuables in my pocket, and printed copies of my passport. I always returned to the accommodation before 8pm. These small precautions made my trip feel safer, I wouldn’t have done if I traveled in a group.

This fear heightens your awareness of your surroundings. You’re focused on new people and the places you go. Solo traveling makes the fear just a slightly bit more real (in a good way, I promise).

2. Time for self-reflection

I spent more time writing notes in cafes and streets in those 3 days than I did in the past 6 months.

I was able to do what I want when I wanted. Whether to see landmarks or sitting down at a cafe just to write my thoughts on said-landmarks. Being alone in a new city provided me space to think, at a time when I was incredibly lost. I had no direction, no reason, no feelings left to comprehend anything. 

If I didn’t leave the UK, I don’t think I would have made it.

You’re forced to grow. When I felt empty, I left to develop a new sense of self. The change of scenery and time away makes you think. I definitely needed that.

3. Being alone is okay

I struggled with being alone, I always needed to be with someone - friend or otherwise. My mornings and nights spent attached to the point it had become exhausting. I had forgotten who I was by being another. For someone like me, supposedly so sure of myself, that was destroying. 

Taking time to be alone meant I started enjoying myself. 

I realized my love for writing again, typing out feelings and research in one article or more. Taking photos without keeping others waiting. I even missed sitting down just to take in the scenery. I hadn't done that in so long. 

4. You're a freaking BADASS.

Seriously. Going to a new place without anyone, feeling afraid but doing it anyway is bravery to me. At the moment of my first solo trip, I was having a meltdown and didn't think about the wild adventure I was about to go on.

I walked around Venice streets alone and heartbroken. Instead of sulking, I wrote about it instead. Badassery can be as small as picking up a pen and writing, or as big as traveling. It's all subjective. 
Why do you travel solo?
And if you don't, would you?

with love,
Bash Harry

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