When I started this exchange, I was sure I would never do a solo trip. I had lots of reasons: it wouldn’t be as fun, I’d get lonely, I wouldn’t have anyone to take photos of me. These are the reasons I told people jokingly, anyway, whenever the topic of travelling alone came up in conversation.
The truth is, though, that it was just too frightening.
I like to think of myself as cautious, but the truth is that I’m just a wimp. I don’t like talking to strangers. I don’t like walking alone after dark. Most of all, I’m afraid of the possibility that your run-of-the-mill street harassment will turn into something more. These aren’t unique considerations, nor are they things I only worry about while I’m travelling, but they were enough to hold me back for a while.
So, what changed?
There wasn’t a specific moment I decided to travel alone. It was more like a compilation of moments that built up until I thought: I’ve met so many amazing girls throughout my travels who have all travelled alone. If they could do it, why not me?
Plus, I wanted to push myself, to have something concrete to look back on at the end of the four months that I point to and say, I did this. I was scared, and I did it anyway. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and I’m proud of myself for doing so.
And so, I booked a flight to Lisbon. (Why Lisbon, you ask? It was the cheapest destination other than Manchester, and I have no desire to visit Manchester.) I booked a hostel. I made lots of lists, because that’s how I stay calm. I counted down the days. Finally, finally, I got on a plane.
And it was amazing.
I’m a naturally selfish person (I’m being completely honest in this post) and being able to walk around by myself, and do exactly what I wanted to when I wanted to, was amazing. If I wanted food, I’d eat. If I wanted to do a detour, I would. (It turns out that I’m better at being alone than I thought.)
Being alone in crowds for an entire weekend felt incredibly liberating as well. I met a few people at my hostel, but I chose to remain by myself because it felt more genuine. I wanted to have an experience that was just mine- if I was going to do this, I would do it all the way.
Not everything worked out. For example, it poured and I got soaked because I still don’t own any coats with a hoods or a decent umbrella. But then, I’m coming to accept that nothing ever quite goes how I want it to. (I also never check the right transit times. If you ever travel with me, save us both a lot of difficulties and do it for us.)
And honestly, if this kind of thing is my main struggle, it’s clear I’m incredibly lucky. Looking back, it’s easy to see how privileged I am, and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly: thank you, universe, for working out in my favour. (Now try harder to work out in other people’s favour, please.)
In conclusion: travelling alone was amazing, and I feel liberated and cool, and if you’re considering it, do it.