I got my first taste of solo travelling this year in April. I left home – this safe, food filled sanctuary that we all know as; and parted for Europe — Italy to be exact. I was able to fit in 4 beautiful countries in 9 weeks total.
Reminiscing on the plane back to Vancouver, I was able to think of 6 things travelling solo had taught me this time round.
1) Your Weight Will Probably Change
Whether you lose weight or gain it, your body will probably change either way. It makes sense. You’re doing a complete 180 to your natural routine of life (at least for me). I’m not even going to be nice. I gain weight. More than I thought I would. I usually am one of those girls who weights themselves every second morning or so. Not having a scale over these two months was one of the best things that ever happened. It’s not that I ate terribly, I just “lived in the moment” (to put it nicely). Yea, a gelato may have substituted for a meal some days, but you grow this state of mind that tells you: Charlotte, how often are you in italy? I grew to love that voice. Though, you get into that 4th week of pasta and pizza and think when was the last time I ate a carrot? If you can’t remember (like I did), then you know it’s time to eat a carrot. I figured out along the way to eat healthy in Europe.
Not having a scale for 2 months was weird at first. Though, once the third week kicked in, I could care less. Yes I came home a little heavier than I did before I left. Let’s be honest here…I did go to the food capitals of the world — no shame. I was proud of myself. It only showed how much I enjoyed myself the entire trip. All those 2:30 am crepes were worth every euro.
2) You Will be put in Difficult Situations
…and it’s not a bad thing! Solo travel was something completely new to me. I walked into this trip not knowing what might happen. Yes, I knew where I was staying, and which cities I had planned to see; but it’s the in-between stuff that can be “iffy” at times. I remember my Mum telling me to practice my “don’t f*ck with me face,” and to use it whenever I’d be walking alone. I laughed at first and only thought it was the most ridiculous thing, but when in fact, at times I was happy I could pull it off.
Of course there is always the factor of being the female kind. Yea, I got cat talked a shit load in Italy, but it’s just the way some people are there, and you have to accept it. You learn to ignore the sly comments and walk on. At one point I was put in a difficult situation where an old man stood there and hit on me for a good 10 minutes. I’m going
to be honest and say I was incredibly anxious and scared at the time. It was the stress of not been able to get up and go anywhere at the time, because I was already in an unfamiliar place. That made me worry. I don’t want to make it sound like you have to constantly watch your back everywhere you go, but honestly, having experienced those situations, as I did — it makes you grow a pair.
3) You will get lost & miss trains/other public transport
Yea, you will feel like that complete idiot holding a huge tourist map as you desperately look for the street sign. I can recall finding my hostel in Milan on the first try with no problems. The other 90% of them I would walk past at least 3-4 times before I realize it was right in front of me. There was a time in Rome I had to actually ask some police officers where this address was It was then I turned red when they pointed across the street. Live and Learn they say — well it took me about 4 hostels in to get it right. I must admit, looking like a complete idiot at times put the “fun” in travelling. Laughing at yourself and the mistakes you’ve made only make the situation less stressful and daunting.
I can definitely say that not knowing where I was at times in Europe freaked me out pre-trip. I googled mapped all my hostels and searched the walking directions they suggested from the nearest train stations. I screen shot all of them and kept them in my travel envelope — true story. But hey! Wasn’t a bad idea in the end…
And for the icing on the cake…I had the lovely experience of missing two of my trains. At first when this happens to you it’s feels horrible: oh my god I’m stuck here. Both train failures happened to me in Termini Station in Rome on two separate occasions (you think I could get the hang of it by the first incident — nope!). Anyways, it turns out trains in Italy are amazing. They run every 20-30 minutes to all sorts of major cities! My phone was full of travel Apps, and Rail Europe is a real helper if you’re a newbie solo traveller like I was.
4) You may have to live on airplane mode
At first, I thought not having an overseas phone plan would be awful. I would be without WiFi in desperate times and would literally have to find a hotspot. Don’t fret! This sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised on how many hotspots and free WiFi europe provides you! When I was in Florence, my phone would automatically connect to this WiFi all the time. Turns out, Florence is an even more awesome city than I thought. Free WiFi everywhere you walk (around most places).
When I wasn’t walking the street in Florence scooping up some quality Instagram updating, I was meandering through another city (one without wi-fi). I won’t lie and say life was great without my “weefee.” There were definitely those times when I thought “Gee…I could use some WiFi right now…shit.” Being honest, I will tell you that happened to me maybe 3% of the time. The other 97% you get by with what you have. You find yourself asking locals for those directions, or a great pizza place. I tell you now, they are the walking “Trip Advisor” and ultimate travel guide.
5) You are going to be forced to meet AMAZING people
The one thing I really noticed upon myself travelling solo was the fact I was forced to meet a ton of people. I didn’t want that social anxiety at a hostel where I’d be the awkward Canadian in the corner of the room. It’s safe to say I stepped out of that “being by myself comfort zone” to “Hey! Where are you travelling from?!” zone. I can say, that line was what started a ton of great friendships I made and still have till today.
6) You are going to have the time of your life
Hand down. I don’t even need to explain this.
When I reached home, common questions that were asked included: “So why “solo”” and “what did you think of going alone?” Every time, I answered it the some-what same way below:
Travelling solo was probably one of the best decisions I have made in my life so far — and I’ve made a heap of decisions. Yea, you could say I “found myself,” but not necessarily in that way. I found myself being this kind of person:
I enjoy, and gain energy being around people — and at times just being by myself. I love making decisions for myself, and spreading ideas with others I meet along the way. I am a person who is not afraid to completely be myself in front of a group of strangers. I’ve grown to love saying “so where are you from?” and grown to hate leaving great friends I’ve met along the way. I find it rewarding when I catch myself making good decisions, and a learning experience when I made that bad decision. I love to eat everything and anything. I enjoy splurging on the quintessential things (*cough* gelato), and stopping myself during frugal times. I enjoy the feeling of getting lost and eventually finding the place. If I had to put “travelling solo” into one word…it would be this:
So stop waiting to find a friend to take along, grow a pair and go solo already!
Have you ever travelled solo anywhere? Was your experience similar to mine? Lemme know in the comments below!
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