Travelling on your own is a very unique experience and one that I personally think everyone should experience at least once in their life…
The long train rides in countries you don’t know that makes you braver.
Finding your way through foreign cities that makes you stronger.
Navigating languages you don’t understand makes you wiser.
Experiencing another countries history and culture strengthens your empathy.
The values and lessons that you learn as you travel are invaluable, but you need to take the first step and get on the plane.
To be honest, before I left for my trip I was probably less nervous than most people would be when they head to a country across the ocean for a month. What made my trip so easy and what calmed my nerves was that I knew that I had so many people waiting to see me over there. I had countless friends who were waiting to see me again; who I knew I could call if I ran into any trouble. Having those people over there made travelling to a strange country where I didn’t know the language a thousand times easier.
This trip was a long time coming and had taken on several different forms until the final journey emerged. Yet I wouldn’t change any of it; not the disappointment of constantly pushing the departure date later and later, not the difficulty and stress of applying for a visa (that I never used), not even the anxiety of trying to fit in everything that I wanted to see. It is because of all of those things that I pushed myself to be assertive, to go after what I wanted, to stick with it even when things got tough, and to see the little bumps in the road and the unplanned events as all part of the adventure.
Every late train, missed bus, wrong turn, and muddled restaurant order pushed me out of my comfort zone. It pushed me into being okay with the unknown, into being okay with not having everything planned out, into letting go of the need to have everything planned out (and have everything go according to plan). There are so many great places you get to see – and food you get to eat – if you let go of the need to schedule every moment of every day and just see how the day unfolds.
This trip proved that amazingly wonderful things can come out of even the worst circumstances and that if you want something badly enough you’ll find a way to accomplish it (this also applies to fitting all of your clothes for one month into just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack). People said that I was crazy for travelling around for a month on my own, or they told me that that was something that they would never be able to do themselves. Yet I never saw this trip as crazy or something that was entirely out of the realm of possibility for me; I saw it as something that I had to do…for me.
Instead of planning the trip that other people would want to take, or trying to see the things other people would want to see, or going because other people wanted me to go, I went because I wanted to go. As my one friend said, “This is your Germany trip, what do you want to see?” And that sort of became my motto for the month. I embraced my tourist side and saw the stereotypical tourist attractions and took the cheesy tourist pictures. But I would rather endure the awkward moments and look back on the cheesy pictures and see all of the cool places that I went than play it cool and come away from the trip with nothing to show for it.
During my time abroad I shed much of my awkwardness, and embraced the side of myself that is silly and rolls with the punches…and I hope to continue to embrace that side now that I am home again. There are so many lessons that are waiting to be learned and memories to be made during travel. However, they will continue to remain undiscovered if we continue to remain rooted in our day-to-day lives, never taking a moment to explore the world that it around us. Never taking the chance and getting on that plane to that country or city that you’ve been dreaming of visiting since forever. Why wait? It only takes one little trip to broaden your perspective and enrich your way of life (It doesn’t have to be to another continent, it could be to the town or city next to yours).
“The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo