People always wonder how solo travellers begin their journey. They also think it takes a lot of guts. Some solo travellers start out by searching for themselves, others to prove something, some love to travel so much that not having a partner or friend to go along can’t stop them, and others (like me) discover it by mistake or in other words due to circumstance.
I was set to go visit one of my university friends, John, in Belgium. He got a job there and being a fellow traveller was excited to travel through the region and explore new places with me. We have discussed which dates I could take off work and what time was best to explore central Europe’s countryside. So we selected the end of April. I also had a friend, Roman, who was going to school in Coventry, United Kingdom. I was planning to spend a few days with Roman and then take either a train or flight to Belgium. As flights were the cheapest between Toronto and London, I booked my ten day trip with Air Canada and was all excited to start planning my journey.
|Stratford Upon Avon|
However, about a week after my international flight was booked, John had informed me that he was going to go back to Toronto for a conference the same week I was scheduled to arrive. Lucky for me, I did not book any internal trains/flights. I was disappointed but knew that no matter what, I was going to Europe and I still had one friend who was awaiting my arrival.
As I started to plan my trip through England, Roman informed me that while it was cool that I come and stay with him and we can go see places around his area, he had exams that he would have to study for so he could not go everywhere with me. After studying my travel guide, I realized that there were only a few places that I would want to visit (seeing as I have been to the London area already).
After a small shock to my system, I have never flown alone, let alone travelled alone in a foreign place (even if they do speak English). I realized something had to happen, remembering my first trip abroad at 18, I thought of Contiki. A tour operator who specializes in vacations for 18 to 35 year olds. I decided to check their website and realized that there was a trip from Vienna to Budapest that was a perfect fit for my schedule and still had spaces. I booked immediately before I realized that I was actually going to do it!
I arrived in London and took a train to see my friend for a few days prior to going on the tour. Going through the green lands with sheep, I realized that this is a great way to travel. First of all, you get to really do some soul searching (no matter how cliche it sounds). Second of all, you are free to do what you want.
After meeting the group from Contiki, I immediately realized how lucky I was to have fate show me the way! On that trip, I met friends with whom I would travel to other destinations and who reside all over the world and to whom I can always turn to when I am feeling down. I also realized that no matter who was there, I only needed a passport and some money to travel. I would never rely on anyone else to explore and follow my passion.
To anyone who is considering going Solo, I would suggest to start by joining a tour which lets some of the group go solo with free time. Once you get comfortable, you can explore cities without tour groups and feel totally free and alive. For tips on solo travel, you can check out the solo traveler blog.