HOW IT ALL BEGAN
When I first began to tell people that I would be traveling to Europe on my own, I got unexpected reactions from those who obviously didn’t know me all too well. Some people stared confusingly at me and simply asked “Why?” Others were shocked and said they could never do that and that I had some- pardon my language, balls.
This all led to a dozen follow-up questions like: “Why isn’t your boyfriend going with you?”,”Aren’t you scared?” and the most famous question of them all was, ” Have you seen Taken?”
First of all I’ll start by saying that I have seen Taken. And secondly that the desire to travel alone has always been with me. I have always been the one that always finds a way to escape on family vacations, I go many places on my own during my daily life and truth is it was always meant for me.
You can tell people that they should try traveling on their own, but recommending people to travel alone is not like recommending a movie to watch or a new restaurant to try. To travel alone is something that only certain people have inside themselves. And chances are if you’re reading this it’s in you. Or at least you’re pondering the idea.
I really can’t pinpoint when it was exactly that I decided I wanted to travel alone someday but I do have one vivid memory of myself as a teenager sitting by the window and I recall looking out into the neighborhood and trying to see as far my eye could. I was lost in a daydream, listing and imagining myself do all these wild things as an adult. Building my bucket list inside my head and traveling alone was there. And since then it became a sweet, sweet fantasy.
Flash forward to my 23-year-old self. I was making decent enough money, I had traveled already in the past but never completely alone- I was ready. Without any worries in the world, I booked my European trip.
STOP ONE: LONDON AND The Creepy Policeman
For the first three stops I decided to go with a group of strangers and the fourth stop would just be me. I did this because it was a money saver and because I also wanted to meet new people who shared similar interests as I did.
My first stop was London, and after two days of getting a layout of the city with my tour group, it was the third day that I decided I would head off and explore on my own. I thought of it as a mini practice before I would really be left on my own.
Besides losing my map fifteen minutes into my adventure, London was easy to get around and explore. First off, because I speak English and secondly because I knew how the Tube system worked and I felt extremely safe with all the CCTV cameras on each corner. I ended up touring the city with only my camera, my map (which I had to buy), and myself for 12 hours. I went to the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and so many other notable tourist locations.
The only time I got spooked out was when I noticed a policeman had been following me around. I couldn’t understand why and just like a spy in a movie I tested my theory. And after I purposely stopped, the officer approached me. At first he seemed friendly enough, warning me of thieves, and being careful with my knapsack. However, then he began asking me more in-depth questions like where I was from and if I was alone. I quickly remembered the Buzzfeed article I had read before my trip on safety tips and I made sure to tell him I was definitely not alone (Lie).
Besides that one creepy Sherlock Holmes moment the rest of my day was a perfect adventure. At the end of the day I had a wonderful feeling that I would be escaping on my own a few more times for some thrills.
STOP TWO: PARIS and My Friends
My next stop was Paris, because I wasn’t in Paris long enough I decided not to take off my own. I was actually having a thrilling time with the new friends I made on my tour group and it was nice getting to know them and hearing their stories.
However, if you’re planning on traveling to Paris alone or with a group, you should be highly aware of your belongings. Pick-pocketing is a huge problem in the city. Also, avoiding scams and people who try to ask you for charity donations. It’s better to ignore people and do what feels safer.
STOP THREE: BARCELONA and Getting Lost in the Dark
After a few days in Paris, we headed off to Barcelona. And within a few days of being there, I headed off on another solo adventure. Again, the good thing was I can speak fluent Spanish and I understood the metro system, so I was off. This time I really didn’t have a clue about where I wanted to go or do, so I just walked and walked. And of course, I got lost. I had a general idea of where I was, problem was that unlike London; Barcelona doesn’t have metros on every corner. And it was starting to get dark. But with a tad bit of common sense and my killer Spanish speaking skills, I was able to find my way back. And guess what , it was super awesome.
STOP FOUR : IRELAND and My Escape
Then FINALLY came the day that I was off to Ireland all by myself. Basically, I had been mentally preparing myself for this for quite some time. I knew I had to be alert and if I ran into any problems, I would have to solve them myself because everyone I knew was thousands of miles away from me and not to mention a whole other time zone. But it’s funny because even though a few things did go financially wrong, I was smarter and more clever knowing I was the only person I could count on.
During my time in Ireland I went sightseeing by myself, dined by myself and had a lovely, wonderful time by myself. I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted. I was me, and the only person that existed in my world. I had moments of solitude, clarity and joy. Truly, I would say I fell in love with the world around me and the person that was taking me. Me.