I dreamt often about my solo adventures across Europe, filled with love, laughter, and bravery. I never fathomed the emotional rollercoaster I would experience during these dream travels. Sure I was aware of real-life problems like planning and money, but anxiety, well that was a new problem.
My first solo trip was to Mykonos, I chose it for several reasons but mainly because of convenience. This is the honest take on what I truly learned on my first solo trip.
This was the first official trip I made by myself, as an adult. And boy did I do some growing up.
I packed my backpack (this seemed to be the prerequisite of being a solo traveler in Europe, terrible idea for my tiny body) strapped on my sleeping bag and made my way from my aunt’s house in Athens to the island of Mykonos. With my basic Google skills and even worse Greek, I managed to take several buses, trains, and ferries to make it to Paradise Mykonos Resort. Who knows why I chose it but I had a brilliant idea of saving money and camping.
Lesson 1: DO NOT TRY TO GO CAMPING WITHOUT A TENT IN 30 DEGREE HEAT (read don’t be so naive)
OK, this was a very rookie mistake, and I see you judging me through your screen, but hear me out (thinking about it, I have made this mistake more than once). I didn’t have a credit or debit card and couldn’t book any accommodation online, so as mentioned I decided to go camping in paradise Mykonos I read on a few blogs that they had slept under the stars and it was do-able, if not enjoyable.
My mistake here was definitely being naïve, I didn’t think Real world, I thought Ideal world. And here is the thing- that’s what people think travel is. This ideal world where everything is perfect and goes according to plan and is exactly as you dreamed. But honey, I hate to break it to you if you haven’t gathered this already, no matter where you go the real world catches up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom but I did learn that there has to be a coating of realism over your bubble. And that is essentially what keeps your bubble from popping (read pooping, if toilet humour is your thing)
My naïve self thought that I would enjoy camping with no tent, but I was wrong. It was scary and I was getting eaten alive by bugs. This is where I realised I had made a mistake, but this brings me to my next lesson.
Lesson 2: PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY VERY FRIENDLY
This one shocked me, I know people are nice but I didn’t realise they were that nice, on my camping night a couple approached me half way through the night and offered me their luggage tent to sleep in. I mean can you imagine – I don’t have a tent for myself and they had one specifically for their luggage, the way I felt like a peasant.
They weren’t the only kind souls I met along my way, unfortunately, I cannot remember all their names and I haven’t stayed in touch. Most people I stumbled upon, were there to be my friend and guide me, I have never felt more seen as I did on that Island. And that says so much about how travel grows amazing people.
Lesson 3: TRAVELLING SOLO DOESNT MEAN YOU GET LONELY
This lesson relates to the second somewhat, one of my biggest fears travelling solo as an introvert was that I would be so afraid to put myself out there, that I would get really lonely.
The opposite is true, I found myself approaching situations I would previously never open myself up to, not only because I was alone and I had to, but there were others in the same boat, which made it all that less scary.
Turns out being alone is actually quite freeing, you learn to enjoy your own company and start to appreciate that your schedule truly is your own, no compromises needed. Alone does not equal lonely.
LESSON 4: YOU’RE BRAVER THAN YOU THINK
This lesson was the most important to me. Bravery is something I have somewhat lacked growing up and due to it, my confidence wasn’t at its highest.
Firstly, putting myself in a situation where I had no one to use as a crutch, was the bravest thing I had done. I know you think that’s a bit much, but I was shy and had a bit of social anxiety.
This solo trip taught me that if I could do this and actually have fun, then I could do most things (obviously had to take baby steps) But I did do most things after that, which eventually lead me to be confident enough to make the move to London. And seven years later I’m still having a love affair with London
LESSON 5: YOU MADE THE RIGHT DECISION- TRAVEL IS FOR YOU
This one is straightforward as I believe travel is for everyone, it’s the best education you can get! But you always have doubts and this lesson definitely needed to be learned by me. The things I experienced, I would never normally if I had just stayed at home. This is where I realised that to travel is to live.
There you have it, my five lessons. Looking back this was the real start of my journey and I’m glad I made that leap, however scary it was. I hope if not anything else this has inspired you to take that same leap. Or if you already have, I hope you can relate.
As always I would love to hear from you, comment below and let me know what travel has taught you, or what you would like to learn from it.
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