*Author’s note – This novella was started in November, 2015 as a part of the Nanowrimo challenge. Obviously, I never completed/posted it. But, my goal is to publish all the chapters in the upcoming months. Enjoy!*
I’ve been talking about traveling since my first international trip in 2007 when I went to Italy. I went on that trip, by myself, but met up with a friend who is an Italian native. I was incredibly fortunate to have my first trip with a local person, taking me around to the places he thought were important and would give me a true sense of the culture. It was an amazing way to see a new place. It’s the best way, in my opinion. It opened my eyes to see normal life beyond tourist traps and trinket shops. From there I was hooked.
So, why am I just now in 2015 talking about this? Well, because I really haven’t traveled internationally since that trip, save for a couple trips to Canada which in my opinion, doesn’t really count. And the reasons for my non-traveling are vast: I was still in school, I had no money, I had no time, I had no one to travel with, etc. But after I graduated with my bachelor degree, changed jobs, and got through my cancer treatments (yes, all of this in one year), in 2012, I was ready to start living my life. I was ready to just go, get out there and see everything, experience the world. But the one reason that wouldn’t resolve was my lack of friends who traveled due to their own various reasons and I couldn’t even fathom the idea of traveling by myself.
To me, traveling by myself was the epitome of scary and depressing. I have always loved doing things with people, sharing experiences and having someone else to depend on and I couldn’t imagine just being on my own. In 2014, I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding, but there were a few of us heading down from Seattle, so I didn’t anticipate any real alone time even though we were all staying in different places. But, I actually ended up on my own for a majority of the long-weekend there and it…wasn’t a great experience. I was nervous going into places by myself, sitting at a bar and ordering food and drinks. Exploring on my own brought feelings of anxiety and knowledge that I really wasn’t super comfortable just being with myself which is interesting since I live alone.
I left that trip thinking that I would never be able to travel alone, that I would be stuck waiting on other people’s schedules and financial statuses forever. But, at some point over the next few months, something (or maybe a bunch of things) changed inside and I found myself moving further and further from the fear of being alone and closer and closer to boldly grasping adventure and letting that overpower anything else. And once I reached the end of 2014, I was convinced that in 2015, I would let nothing stand in the way of me experiencing more in my life. And as I started to plan out my year and think about trips I could take, everything began falling into place.
This is how my year of travel worked out:
April – Austin, Texas with my best friend
May – Denver, Colorado for my sister’s college graduation
June – Paris, France to meet my friend from Italy for 3 days and to spend 4 days on my own
October – Atlanta, Georgia for a 5 day fitness camp and then 3 days in the city by myself
November – San Juan, Puerto Rico with one of my closest friends
In the following chapters, I’m hoping to give you a sense of what happened both externally with what I saw and experienced, and internally with everything I learned about myself and the world around me.
I don’t know that I could have anticipated what being alone in a foreign place can do to and for you if you just allow yourself to remain open and willing to experience each moment as it comes. It’s truly life-changing in the best of ways.
To say I am someone who likes control would be an understatement. I love to plan out my trips on spreadsheets, do a lot of research, even map out my trips by day with the goal that I will never just be sitting around in my room saying “Well, what should I do now?”. I hate that. But, with each trip I’ve taken this year, I’ve learned to give up a bit more of that control mentality and allow myself to go with the flow in the moment. I still plan out and research a bunch before my trips, but I’ve become much more comfortable with living in the moment with myself and allowing life to just happen around me and to take detours as they come.
Please join me in my experiences.