Don’t wait on others to go to that exhibition you’ve heard about. Don’t wait on others to travel. Don’t wait on others to live your life.
I had always thought I needed to be in the company of friends or family to visit the world, try out new activities, or simply go to the beach. I thought doing it alone would feel awkward, out of place; that, to some extent, it wouldn’t be acceptable. I was convinced that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing things on my own.
Last summer, I decided all of these thoughts were bullshit. Being back in my “hometown,” I realised that given the lack of friends I had there, if I was not ready to wake up and go out alone, I wouldn’t get anything out of that summer. And I wanted to get something out of it; I didn’t want to sit in my parents’ living room waiting for time to go by for two months.
I will not lie, starting to do things alone was not that easy. But I took it slow, I was kind to myself. At first, I decided to go to the swimming pool on my own. Then, I went to a group yoga class near a lake. I moved to going to museums, going to exhibitions alone, spending hours reading all the information about the art or objects presented. And eventually, I travelled.
In two weeks, I travelled over more than 3’000 kilometres, visited six cities in five different countries, and spent more than forty hours on trains. At times, I felt lonely, I felt homesick, I felt deeply sad. But I do not have a single regret; doing this alone was simply incredible.
Despite travelling on my own, I was rarely truly alone. I must admit, staying in hostels was pretty useful for that matter. On the first evening of my journey, while I was wandering around Salzburg, loneliness and tiredness hit pretty hard; I wanted to cry and go home – without even really knowing where home was. However, my hostel had a bar, and I went there just to sit down and text my parents before heading to my dorm. At the bar, there were two young men chatting with the bartender; they seemed to be nice. So, I ordered a beer and went to chat with them. Two hours passed by; the bartender offered us more drinks; and when it was time to go to bed, I was not feeling lonely anymore. Towards the middle of my trip in Budapest, I got to meet two Colombians with whom I shared an incredible evening. After a long conversation at the hostel’s restaurant, we decided to go together to a ruin bar – these are bars that were built in buildings that got bombed during WWII – and spend some time there. The next morning, I was badly hungover and getting out of bed was hard, but I got to spend an incredible evening with two very nice people. Don’t get me wrong, even though I really enjoyed the spontaneity of an evening with strangers, I also cherish some alone time. And when solo travelling, you get plenty of it. In a 14-day trip, I spent 8 evenings watching the sunset and practising my Spanish in my travel diary. I preciously held these memories in my heart as instants of self-discovery and emotional rest. I must also admit that visiting cities at my own rhythm was a great pleasure. I am not the kind of person to sit down to slowly enjoy a lunch or spend three hours having dinner; I am actually quite the opposite. I like to make the best out of my days, seeing everything there is to see, and walking around cities without knowing the concept of breaks. This kind of travelling is definitely not something everybody enjoys, and because of that, visiting places with others can easily become strongly frustrating to me; I enjoy the intensity of life, not the rest that many associate with holiday. Being on my own allowed me to see all there was to see in each city I visited without staying there for more than two days.
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