When I think of the adjective “solo,” I think “free,” “independent,” “unrestrained.”
Just a few years ago, I would have shaken my head and chuckled at the thought of adventuring abroad alone. Today, I have made the very decision that would shock the person I used to be into disbelief. This summer, I will spend a little over a week traveling around Europe with my friend. After that, I will explore the continent solo. Yes, that’s right. Reserved, cautious me will be traversing a new continent without the comfort of familiar faces or abundant resources. Why, you ask?
Off the top of my head, here are the reasons why I am committed to traveling around Europe solo:
- I have always wanted to go to Europe. As much as I would love to share this entire experience with friends, the fact of the matter is that the majority of them are not ready either financially or time-wise. Why should I wait for them? There will always be a reason why they cannot go, but I do not want to wait until I am older, settled, and have more fixed viewpoints.
- On that note, I am not going for the sake of “vacationing” but to immerse myself in new cultures. I absolutely love learning about new places and having the opportunity to be alone will allow me to be far more perceptive and hold onto less preconceptions.
- I know I will never be lonely – traveling solo gives you the luxury of deciding when you want to be alone and when you want to be in the company of others. As an introvert, I appreciate my alone time, but when I crave the company of others, I can easily find that through the friends I know abroad as well as other fellow backpackers staying in hostels.
- And speaking of which, I had already spent roughly a week in a hostel last summer. Everybody there was on the backpacking trail and very open-minded. Because they were from all over the world, they brought many interesting viewpoints and stories that I never would have come across in the past. They made for great conversationalists as well as travel buddies, and I am still in touch with some of them. I am completely unconcerned about being lonely ever.
- And in terms of safety, I know for sure I can navigate Europe just fine because 1. I speak French and 2. I speak English. Furthermore, I know to do my research regarding the places I visit beforehand. Having already traveled in unknown areas, I know the precautions I must take in everything, whether it be to clutch my bag close to my body at all times, to not go into closed-off spaces, to lock up my passport in the hostel, and others. In addition, the places I intend on staying will take care of me – they have useful knowledge about the area and will have organized group activities.
I will finish this school year strong, but come June, say a temporary goodbye to Ms. Z, and a “welcome back” to Kathy the Wanderer! I cannot wait to update you all on my experiences, both with my friend and solo.