One of the questions that I get asked the most frequently is “you’re going [on a one year round-the-world trip] by yourself?!” Yes, I am. If I were to wait around to find someone to do this with, I could potentially be waiting forever, and I prefer solo travel anyway.
I like doing my own thing, I’m not a huge fan of compromising with someone on what to do or where to go, and I can get bored easily with other people. I do enjoy doing some things in groups, but sometimes I just want to enjoy the experience and not have to carry on a conversation.
I also consider myself to be very introverted. I’m not antisocial, but sometimes I just don’t want to be social, even when I want to get out and do fun stuff. I want to be able to freely say “I’m done” or find a quiet park bench to take a break and get away from the crowds without having to worry about anybody else.
Don’t get me wrong, traveling with friends and family is great, and I am very impressed by those who are able to travel long-term with a significant other. It can be nice to have a companion to share experiences, memories, & costs with. My mom is by far the best travel buddy I have ever had. We have gone on many trips together, and she only drives me a little bit crazy (love you mom!). But traveling solo gives me the ability to go at my own pace and do exactly what I want to do.
The only solo travel I’ve really done is going to visit friends or family. However, I have had opportunities to explore some of these places on my own, including Houston, TX, Sarasota, FL, & Amsterdam (more on that later!). I also have a tendency to go out to eat, go shopping, visit Kansas City, go to museums, or do “touristy” things where I live alone.
The first time I traveled by myself I was nine years old. I flew from Kansas City to Fort Worth, TX to visit my cousins. Of course, I had airline personnel looking after me and I was never left unsupervised, but I didn’t have my parents or any travel buddies with me. I felt so grown up. I had already done a lot of traveling with my family, but that first solo trip sparked a sense of independence and ignited a love for venturing out on my own and exploring the world.
When I was in college I flew to Venice, Italy to visit friends who were studying abroad. We spent a whirlwind weekend over Thanksgiving break visiting Venice & Rome. The day I left my friends had classes, so I had to get from the hotel in the small town they were studying back to Venice on my own to catch my flight. I then had a 13 hour layover in Amsterdam, over night.
I took a train from the airport to Centraal Station and set out to explore the Red Light District. It was actually a fairly quiet night and I didn’t see much out of the ordinary except a bondage mannequin window display. I walked around for a bit, got a hamburger from a street vendor, and went back to the airport and got a Heineken at an airport bar (lame, I know).
I had seen an ad or something for some kind of sleeping pod mini-hotel-room sort of thing at the airport and planned on staying there, but when I went to inquire I found they were closed at the time. So finally I made my way to a shuttle and got myself to a nearby hotel and booked a room. How I managed to do this late at night, by myself, in a very foreign country (where I knew zero words of the language), I’m still not entirely sure. But it does give me faith that I can handle this whole round-the-world solo travel thing. I can’t wait to get started!