In a previous post, I have mentioned that in this year, it is my aim to travel by myself. I don’t care if it is going to be in or out Greece, in a city or a village, a well-known place on the map or somewhere totally unknown either to me or to you.
I was thinking that for a while now. Whenever I had this desire to leave for somewhere else and the mouse on my computer might have clicked on a travel website for plane tickets, I had my concerns. I would decide in an instant where I wanted to travel, where to be, which place I was longing to explore. Thankfully I keep a budget for my personal escapes. But I was afraid deciding to leave alone. All alone. Without anyone else being there waiting for me.
My next usual reaction, when I had a place in mind, was to look for a travel buddy. Who will be available to take the plane or any other mean of transport and follow me? Many have the will, but few are determined. Work, finance, hobbies, personal pursuits, full program. And so, any hope to travel gets canceled.
“Hey, I just saw the tickets for Italy; I will book them for March, ok?”
“Nah, I will pass, can’t come”
“But why? Is the cost too much for you?”
“No man, I am just not in the mood to travel now, better some other time”
This is a common conversation with friends, where I have caught myself wishing for them to think again. To adjust the program, the accommodation, the costs, in order to come. Unfortunately, I have also seen myself in this kind of situation many times in the past. Thankfully those times are over. Only if there is a serious reason, therefore I will pass.
I remember when I was still in my university years (yeah, when I should have been traveling at any chance) two of my best friends were trying to convince me to go for camping in Samothrace (Greek island, famous of its isolated beaches and vivid nature). For someone, who was not used to sleep under the trees, in a small tent, with luggage as a companion while somebody might be trying to play guitar day and night, well, it wasn’t my first choice for vacations. But, at this time, I decided to say yes and it was for the best!
During the next years, when, after a long time, I had again an offer for a trip in another place to camp, I wasn’t so sure. Without any serious reason. And I didn’t’t follow them. But I regret in the future since we haven’t managed to travel again all together. You see, they left to work in other countries.
From that time, I got more serious about my travel choices and I had rarely said no to trips. With or without known faces. And I started learning things about myself, adapting in tough situations and trying to get the most of the days I was lucky to travel. As many experiences I collected, I applied them later in next trips and so on. As a result, I started missing more the waiting time at the airport gate than a night out in the city with friends. Who I was trying to convince often to come with me but I was usually getting rejected. And I was a coward to travel solo.
But why I’m still feeling like this, I think. Why I prefer to organize a trip and I wait for other’s approval and support to travel together, but when this thing doesn’t happened, I settle in canceling anything since they haven’t said yes? Why to get into the trouble to try convincing them even though I know their intentions?
Millions things have crossed my mind: what I am going to do alone all those days, what if I have a problem in the country I will go, what if I cannot communicate, what if I will look too lonely and desperate when I will go in a bar or a restaurant to eat…what if , if , if. The funny thing is that I have been in this kind of situation before, to wander alone in a foreign country, at least for one day (I didn’t have the chance for more). You can say it is a minor experience before the big thing. Like in Eindhoven, Netherlands, where for one day I was wandering around the city and getting pictures. In Berlin, Germany, since I had to wait for least than 12 hours at the airport, I decided to get to the city center without having somewhere to stay, until the departure of my flight. Just for the experience, it surely, it wasn’t bad.
But there were tough situations also. In Batumi of Georgia, except of the common difficulty with the language, there was a not so good experience when I decided to try a quite unique dish of the country. I won’t get into details, my stomach had the worst. Again, in Brussels, when I tried to get on time for the bus in Amsterdam, I lost the last line and I had to pass the night until 6 in the morning for the next one. At least, I found a McDonald’s open, 2 hours before my departure.
The point is, I don’t think it is easy to travel alone. Especially, if you have never tasted those few hours waiting, without somebody to talk with or when you have to solve problems alone. Even this feeling, when you enter a restaurant or bar alone, with people being in groups or couples around you, it could be uncomfortable. But, then you will have to handle it. To leave aside your lists and walk around with your alter ego in unknown roads. How terrifying it might seem!
But it is more terrifying if I won’t travel alone, even for one time in my life. Because I would to see how this experience might be like other did before me. To feel this sense of oppressed freedom, getting relieved, without being limited to anyone’s program. This does not mean that I will stop counting relatives and friends.
I have read somewhere that if you will manage to travel solo, you might have gotten the most difficult Master. I think it is time to fill this application!