I traveled through Europe in the spring of 2017, solo. It was my first solo experience and it changed me in so many different ways. It ignited a fire in my soul that I knew would never burn out. How could I go back to life before solo travel? I knew that I had been changed from the inside out and that my life would forever revolve around long trips globetrotting alone.
Now that I am officially one year past my first solo travel trip through Europe, I can look back and remember the things that have REALLY stood out to me. The good, the bad, the ugly. I’m able to recall the things I miss the very most… and the things that if I could do over again I’d pass up. All I can tell you for certain is that the spring of 2017 was the best time in my life thus far. And the four words I’d use to sum it all up? Exhilarating, healing, exciting, challenging, and so much more that can’t be put into words.
I started my journey in London and Paris (with my sister), when I flew off to Skopje, Macedonia alone. I used Skopje as an anchor city while I volunteered with Project Hope at the Children’s Hospital of Skopje and used the weekends to solo travel to different European cities. I was able to meet strangers that turned into friends and experience Springfest with them in Munich. I traveled to Zagreb to see if Croatia was all it was cracked up to be (spoiler alert: it is). I hopped on a cheap flight to Ljubljana for no other reason than it was the cheapest at the time. And let me tell you, Slovenia is one of the most beautiful and underrated countries in Europe. I experienced the incredible city of Barcelona while drinking too much wine, eating too many tapas, and staying out a little too late each and every night. And I fell in love with the magic of Vienna as I walked around gigantic “summer homes” and marveled at the Viennese architecture. Spring 2017, was quite the spring.
The 4 words I’d use to describe my first time traveling solo…
Although I was alone in Skopje, my first true solo trip was to Munich. With the extra confidence only one too many glasses of wine can provide, I booked a ticket the day before I was set to depart, packed my bags, and hopped on a plane! With no weekend plans, I aimlessly wandered the streets knowing that what I had just done was incredibly ballsy and spontaneous and gave me such a zest for life. I walked miles and miles through Munich, made lifelong friends, and even experienced the magic of Springfest! (A less crowded version of Oktoberfest).
Every trip that I booked in the Spring of 2017 wasn’t done more than a few days in advance. And while at times it was stressful, it was also completely and utterly exhilarating. To not know where the next destination would be, to just show up with no plans and nothing but a backpack at times. This is the type of naive and innocent travel you only experience once and it shapes your life forever.
2016 was a year of challenge and growth. And still looking back, it was one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. With that being said, I welcomed 2017 with arms wide open! My only New Year’s resolution was to focus on myself and do whatever I pleased whenever I pleased! It was the year that I began travel nursing, it was the year that I started saying “yes” to any and every adventure. It was the year I decided to focus on myself and put myself first before anything and anyone else. And traveling solo through Europe was exactly what I wanted to do, and exactly what I needed to do. That alone time with myself didn’t leave me more heartbroken or more depressed. Instead, I dug deep, began to love myself, and bit by bit my heart began to heal.
“Hi, I see that you’re walking alone – want to join us at Friday markets? We’re going to sample the local cuisine and drink the local wine and beer.” – A quote from someone I met walking the streets (alone) in Ljubljana. It ended up being the best weekend of my whole trip. How could something like that NOT excite me?!
Wandering the streets alone open to any and every opportunity. Coming upon hole in the wall bars and restaurants that only locals visit. Keeping an eye out for friends to make, conversations to have, European boys to kiss. All that excitement in just a few short weeks was enough to carry me through the rest of the year.
And with all of the excitement, comes challenges. Sometimes your phone dies, you don’t speak the language, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t even know who to trust! Where do you eat, where do you stay, are you in a good part of town? Is someone trying to rip you off? All of that is hard, and challenging and can at times feel like it might break you. But trust me, if you stick to it, and stick through it… it pays off. And you only get better and better at traveling solo.
The spring of 2017 was an incredible and once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a time in my life that I will never be able to replicate again, but will always chase the feeling anyways. So if you’re reading this and you’re scared, depressed, heartbroken, or toying at all with the idea of solo travel. I urge you to JUST GO FOR IT. Stop standing in your own way, bite the bullet. You’ll only get older. Your responsibilities will only grow. Stop making excuses. You’ll be happy you did.
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