My very reason for being on this earth sprung from my parents’ meeting at a youth hostel in Switzerland. Traveling is in my blood. Solo traveling is a right of passage.
I spent hours on Pinterest virtually exploring different places and gaining insights on cities around the world. I read blog post after blog post about all different girls who had taken months, years off to travel the world. All alone.
So, the minute I graduated from college and my shackles of time constraints were undone, I bought a one-way ticket to Munich, Germany — the beginning of a journey around the world (well, at least western Europe). I kissed my boyfriend goodbye at the airport and boarded an airplane to the unknown.
With visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I thought these next 3 months were gonna be a breeze. People would be throwing themselves at me to get to know the cool hip solo California girl. But what I learned is solo traveling is not easy. Like really freaking hard, actually.
The next 3 months were mixed with days where I met the most awesome people and went on the most awesome adventures and days where I cried alone in the hostel laundry room (true story).
And after 3 months of tears and triumphs, here’s what I learned:
1. Not every day will be an Insta-worthy moment.
So you see glamorous pictures of your friend sitting on a camel in Morocco or a picture of a young woman smiling on top of Macchu Picchu on The Blonde Abroad and you think, “Man their lives are so awesome. I want my life to be this awesome”. Yes, you too will have these awesome moments. By the end of your trip, your Instagram is sure to be full of #wanderlust. BUT these moments will come also with moments of boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Moments when you will want nothing better than to up and leave for the comfort of home.
In such moments, you have to remember that nobody wants to show anything but happiness and perfection on their social media accounts. So even though your camel-riding friend posted a glamorous picture of herself in Morocco, just know that moments after that camel probably spit in her face and she cried about it.
Not every day is going to be the best day of your life. In fact, some are gonna be pretty shitty. But there are sure to be a few gems in there.
2. You will be lonely.
Unless you wear a neon sign on your chest that says “talk to me please” at all times, people will not flock to you like you are the next messiah (even if you do wear said sign, people will probably still not talk to you because that’s freakin’ weird, man). You have to go out there and start the conversation. And still, there will be days where you have to eat dinner by yourself and that’s OK.
That’s when you post pictures of yourself and food and tell the world you’re having a good time. At least that’s what I did.
3. It will be #worthit.
If you have managed to get through this list without now having a bad taste in your mouth about solo traveling, then congrats! Buy your ticket now (and I mean now. Those ticket prices WILL go up). Solo traveling is a mixed bag and don’t let your friend’s camel pics tell you differently.
BUT the 10 days where you cried alone in your hostel laundry room will be worth it just for that one day where you spontaneously hopped on a plane at 6 AM to Bucharest with 8 strangers and had the best hot chocolate in the world (true story).
And, at the very least, even if you spent ALL of your time crying alone in a hostel laundry room, then at least you’ll have a kickass blog post to write.