"What if something happens to you?"
"... Aren’t you scared; why don’t you cut your hair if you're bored, not fly to another country; why are you going on your own?"
My friends bombarded me with questions about why I was leaving my life and flying to another country by myself.
But the only answer I could give was that I was bored. Bored of me, bored of my routine and bored of my life. I needed a change. I had to get out.
I had a burning passion to travel the world and craved the sense of freedom. The thought of being tied to a house contract, or a job, or even having children scares the life out of me. I’m not ready, I’m too young, I have to travel. That’s all I ever wanted, any time people would ask what I wanted to do, I could only ever say travel. "I have to go and I have to go alone", I’d tell them.
They couldn’t understand that I don’t want to compromise my dreams, I’m already doing that with my budget.
If I make plans and I change my mind, then that’s fine. If I decide I don’t want to do anything for a week, then that’s fine. If I decide I want to go to another country that same week, then that’s fine too.
I don’t want to spend my time doing what I’ve dreamed off, compromising with someone else and if that means I’m selfish then so be it, this is my time.
But when is the right time?
When is the time in our lives going to be the perfect time to leave all our belongings, quit our jobs say goodbye to our families and friends, miss birthdays and Christmases, book a one-way ticket and fly across the world - alone?
For some people, that’s never.
For me it was the 15th July and I received a text from my landlord informing me that he wasn’t going to renew my contract once it ended in October.
I spent an hour wondering what I was going to do, then it became obvious - book a one-way ticket!
I sat asking myself "is it worth spending £1000 on a months rent and a deposit?", I could use that money while doing a work exchange and not pay any rent.
My mind was set, I had to get verified on the Worldpackers site. I eagerly waited for my next payday - one month away.
In the meantime, I searched and searched the app for hosts across the world and narrowed it down to 4 places. Once payday came around I paid for my subscription and messaged 4 hosts. As soon as I got a response I set my google flights tracker and waited until my flights were at the cheapest. Lisbon, here I come!
Once I was on my flight it finally sunk in. "What the hell am I doing?". But I was on my way, and there was no going back now.
My first day I spent laid on the beach drinking beers - well my first week was spent doing exactly that.
The first day I went exploring by myself I stumbled across a huge old fort - The Fort of São Pedro do Estoril. The first place I’ve ever explored alone, my first real feel for solo travel.
As I reached the top of the fort to the "look out" I was so taken aback. The views were so amazing, miles and miles of the ocean. So beautiful. And there it was, the sense of freedom I’d been craving.
The following day I packed my bag for the day and headed to Cascais, my inner voice asking me all kinds of questions, "Can you wear the outfit you're wearing, will people notice your at the beach on your own, will you feel lonely?."
"Table for one please."
There it was, that lonely feeling I’d been previously curious about. As the waiter lead me to my table, the one right at the back, in the corner, in the shade, I felt like the most lonely person on the planet.
Then I realised that it’s my own perception of how to view a situation. I ordered my beer, some olives another beer and a beautiful salmon dish and sat contemplating my life. I felt truly blessed, I realised that I deserved this trip, I owed it to myself.
I’ve met so many amazing people in the time I’ve been away - most I’ll never see again.
For me that’s the beauty of travelling, spending all these short moments meeting people, learning about their lives and what brought you both to the exact same place at the same time.
Some you’ll love, some you can’t wait to get away from, some you’ll keep in contact with and most you’ll never speak to again.
"I wish I did it when I had the chance, I’m too old, I have a baby now."
Words I would constantly hear from my friends and people I would speak to. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by, I’m 27 now and I’m finally beginning my adventure!
Going solo was so important to me. I need time with myself to figure out who I am again, I needed to grow and learn and put myself out of my comfort zone to become stronger as a person, more self-aware, more confident.
Staying safe while going solo is the most important thing ever - especially being female!
This doesn’t mean not having fun or exploring, this is the obvious things to do ie, not taking all of your money in your wallet if you’ll be going to a bar on your own, not drinking too much, don’t go with people you don’t know, don’t tell random people that your travelling on your own, do not trust everyone you meet, and always follow your gut.
If something doesn’t feel right to you, run. Get out of that situation as quick as possible, it could be harmless but it’s never worth the risk.
The sunsets alone are enough for me to feel so blessed and grateful that I made the decision to go at it alone. This is just the start of my journey and I can’t wait to see more sunsets, visit more beaches and experience so many more hostel exchanges.
My advice to you would be ‘Just go.’
The time will never be right, you’ll never feel like you have enough money, you’ll tell yourself "I'll save a bit more then I’ll go", then life happens.
And before you know it years have passed and you’ll wish you done it sooner.
Go while you have the opportunity, take what money you have and experience the world. Life is short and the world is wide. Experience life and make it an amazing story to tell.