Reaching the midway point on my European excursion, I devoted time to reflect on my experiences thus far as a solo female traveler. I’ve gained countless insights not only to how others live throughout different parts of the world, but also how I deal with challenges & cope with difficulties.
Would it be a ‘real’ trip if there weren’t bumps in the road?
I don’t think it’s a reach to say that every traveler encounters some difficulties during his or her trip. Whether big or small, facing challenges help you improve as a traveler and grow as a person.
It was inevitable. I knew I’d start to feel homesick sooner or later, I just wasn’t sure when it would hit me. Around the time I arrived in my second Workaway is when I was feeling the early onset of homesickness and noticed a downturn in my attitude.
Help from a dear friend made me realize how remarkable my current situation was and to remember to be grateful for where I am physically, mentally, and emotionally. With that, I snapped out of my homesick haze. The longing of home & any worries I was having dissipated. Almost instantly, I saw an improvement in my attitude and began to really enjoy my time.
Loneliness comes in unannounced waves. I noticeably felt the weight of my solitude when I was enjoying beautiful moments that I knew my loved ones at home would have also enjoyed.
However, I have come to distinguish the difference in going through new experiences alone verses with family/friends. Being alone gives me the opportunity to focus on the rarity of my whereabouts and allows me time to reflect on it’s impact on me. Through solitude, I’ve learned to appreciate & find peace within the silence and to tune into & find ways to connect with the life surrounding me.
And then I realized that to be more alive, I had to be less afraid. So I did it, I lost my fear and gained my whole life.
To all my fellow female travelers: keep on keepin’ on
I have met a handful of females traveling alone for the entirety of their trips. Through each one I’ve met, I was able to bond with these women through the similarities of our current situations and lifestyle choices.
The confidence that exudes these women is indescribable. They are fearless in the way they reveal their previous travels and where their next adventures lay ahead. One underlying theme I’ve noted through meeting these incredible women is that they all relish in the feeling of ultimate independence. To travel where your heart desires, do as you please, and be able to solely focus on yourself is something that they all cherished, and I as well.
And the Wheel of Knowledge keeps turning
What I’ve personally come to understand about life and the knowledge I’ve gained through my travels can be summed up into 3 things:
Have some confidence & stop overanalyzing
Since I’m a first timer with solo travel, I had no idea how things were going to work out and it was very shell-shocking at first. Due to my fear of what people would think of me for being a newb and needing help, I found myself struggling. I was afraid people would think, “What the hell is she doing” if I couldn’t provide all of the answers about what I was doing or where I was headed.
Fortunately, the more people I met, the more I realized that no one really has their plans figured out 100%. I have become comfortable with not having all the answers and gained confidence in my ability to know when to ask for help when needed. Instead of beating myself up over my mistakes, I’ve altered my perspective and attitude. No longer viewing my mistakes as a failure or questioning myself why I put myself in this position, I now view them as lessons. These mistakes and failures are stepping stones to bettering myself and moving towards my goals.
Know the true value of your relationships
I can’t say enough how grateful I am for the overwhelming support I have had from my family and friends at home. Going against the grain and quitting my job to do this trip was extremely nerve-wracking. There were always “what ifs” floating around in my head that made me sometimes doubt my decision. But through long discussions with close family and friends, I was amazed at how many people supported my choices and simply wanted me to just be happy and to do what’s best for me. They gave me the strength to continue forward and to know that all things have a way of working out.
Life is way too short to not have some fun
I graduated college and started my first job without skipping a beat, because in America that’s pretty much the standard route to take. What I came to realize was that I wanted to be apart of something that I was passionate about and that was worth the stress. I came to a point where my self-induced stress eventually burnt me out and I was ready for a change.
Some may say that this trip might be an escape from reality for a short while. I think it’s quite the opposite. Traveling has made me realize how to truly live life. I re-learned to enjoy simplest gifts life has to offer that I began to overlook at home. I learned to slow things down and enjoy the view and the company.
Knowing that I will have unavoidable difficult & stressful times at some point further down the road, my hopes are that I remember this feeling of tranquility, peace, and understanding to look at the bigger picture. I hope to always remind myself what’s truly important in life and to always find positivity.