90 days of traveling to new places is a long time. Solo travel can make that time feel longer or shorter depending on your disposition for being alone. When you spend so much time with only yourself, some weird things start to happen; you talk to yourself, you stop shaving, and you find out what is really important.
It’s my last day in Barcelona, in Spain, and in Europe until I book my next trip overseas. After three months and seven countries, I think I might be ready to come home. I also think I’m ready to never go back.
How Solo Travel Makes You Confident
My father is an international man of mystery. Throughout my life, he has shown up with gifts from foreign countries that I hadn’t even known he visited. In high school, my friends joked that he was CIA, FBI, or a spy. By college, I realized that he just enjoys seeing places and he thoroughly appreciates seeing them alone.
Oh my god. Aren’t you scared?”
“You’re so brave!” and “Aren’t you afraid of what could happen?” are the most typical responses I’ve heard from friends and new acquaintances while on this trip, and I can’t help but think that these are reactions based on my gender. Being a woman traveling alone should not be a rare case. After all, does my 70-year-old father get the same acclamation?
Although this is only my second solo trip, I’m not afraid to do this again, go for longer, and visit places less refined than Europe. I chose England for my first trip due to the common language. For this trip, I chose the European countries I’ve never been to but always dreamed of.
It hasn’t been a perfect trip. I’ve run into accommodation problems, travel scares, and communication barriers. However, I’ve handled them all; I survived traveling alone! I honestly believe that when you are left to your own devices, you rise to your best self. You never know what you can accomplish and conquer until you have to.
How Long-Term Travel Hurts
My neck, my back, my everything, how ’bout that? Traveling breaks your routine, including eating and fitness. I’m no gym rat but lack of exercise, stretching, and sleeping in a familiar bed has taken a toll on my body, mind, and soul.
My heart hurt when I left France and not just because it has been my favorite country. The rich diet of cheese, foie gras, and delicious (so delicious) wines laid claim to my health. While I had actually gotten sick in Iceland, it was the new spare tire around my waist that I felt dragging into Spain. It’s hard to say no to food when you are in a new country.
When my good friend Kelly came to Northern Ireland to keep me company for a week, I noticed how she didn’t let a vacation mess with her diet. As a Pilates instructor and a spiritual being, Kelly is steadfast in her ability to appreciate and enjoy healthy food. Only under her guidance did I refine my terrible habits of:
- Not drinking enough water.
- Not choosing vegetables.
- Drinking to excess.
Kelly’s health-conscious attitude made me make better choices for the rest of my trip. I started looking for better alternatives, like opting for an açaí bowl rather than pancakes, choosing salad over fries, and drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks.
How Traveling Alone Makes You Face Your Demons
My name is Fela Rue and I’m an addict. Back in Connecticut, I was a weekend warrior, a lust who would drink heavily and party on the weekends. In California, I learned that almost every occasion paired well with an alcoholic beverage and that weed was readily and easily available. I’ve been arrested for being drunk on a flight and have been court-ordered to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.
If I had to guess how much I’ve spent on alcohol alone in the last three months, then I would have to say well over a grand, probably closer to $1,500 on alcohol. Granted, drinking in Ireland, France, and Spain go hand-in-hand with eating and breathing. But nothing ruins your holiday like hangovers and staggering bar tabs.
When I started this trip, I was prepared to go without smoking weed for the duration. However, along the way, I’ve found my favorite herb in Dublin, Cork, Paris, Marseille, and Barcelona. With marijuana offered at coffeeshops in Barcelona, my inner addict found a place within the old city.
After three months of no one to judge me on my bad habits, my inner critic decided to rally. I have a problem with being sober, and it took this trip for me to realize it; not being arrested and not loved ones telling me.
I wanted an Eat, Pray, Love moment and this is it: Getting fucked up is deterring from my goals and ambitions. I know I can face obstacles, I know my body is a mess, and I know what I can do to live my best life.