About a month ago, I had two of my friends come to visit me in Prague. They have been keeping tabs on me on social media, so they asked me, “Erin, who exactly are you going on weekend trips with?”
And I told them that I mostly went by myself.
They were really surprised to hear that.
And truthfully, if you told me at the beginning of the semester, that I would be booking trips by myself, I wouldn’t have believed you.
When I first went abroad, I told myself that there was absolutely no way that I’m going on any trips alone. I would only go with friends. However, that didn’t work out because my friends either already visited the country that I wanted to go to, or they were visiting friends in family. So, I only went on weekend trips with my friends. Since that didn’t work out, I could either go on the trip by myself or not go on trips at all. But the latter would be silly so I decided to go solo. It was nerve-wracking in the beginning but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
I was able to get out of my comfort zone because let me tell you, being in a foreign country by myself and having to navigate without using google maps (you can thank my terrible phone for my cell service not working) helped me feel truly independent. Going by myself was great because I got to go wherever I wanted. But my absolute favorite thing about solo traveling is the people that I’ve met.
I’ve gone out for brunch with a girl I met in my hostel who was from Finland but was living in Australia to improve her English. I’ve gone on walking tours with girls from New Zealand, Japan, and France. I rode a camel with a stranger in Morocco and then we spent the night walking around the square sharing cookies. I spent the day in Amsterdam traveling with a girl who was originally from China and had never traveled before, but she wanted to get out of her comfort zone by studying in Ireland. I’ve had chocolate cake and coffee with girls I met in Vienna and when the trip was over, we planned to meet up again in Barcelona. In Nice, I’ve shared an umbrella in the pouring rain with an American girl I just met and we had conversations about politics our shared love of the French language and culture.
I never imagined that this would be one of the benefits of solo traveling. I’ve always been kind of a loner so I didn’t expect to spend my weekend trips with people I’ve just met. But looking back, that’s what made my trips so great. I think about these special connections that we made by sharing these experiences together and even though some of us come from different backgrounds, we all met because we all have a shared love of travel. When we talk about studying abroad, we always talk about “the places you’ll go”, but we should also talk about is “the people you’ll meet.”