Since leaving Australia my traveling escapades have been mostly solo.
Its true that yes, as my plane took off over looking Sydney Harbour I had an old friend from home sitting beside me with our heads full of explicit dreams of what was about to unfold… And yes, I did meet up with a dear friend in New Mexico and traveled down into Mexico with her, for 6 weeks we explored the earths depths together loving and learning as we grew to our substantial selves, the inevitability of us both knowing that we would soon part ways and once again, we would both be on our own.
I cherish the times that I have with those I travel with. A deeper connection is made than one of an individuals every day life.
For one; Your both on this self discovery lighted path (you can defy and deny it all you want, but every single human is on a path to self discovery, a traveler is just more pro-active about it, that is what traveling is all about!) and so you connect with certain beings, you either repel them or hold onto them, weary but curious as to how this individual can impact your life.
For another; your both uncertain of the road ahead, what will you do today, tomorrow, next Sunday? Some people dis like the uncertainty of what their days could bring them, but for the most part, travelers love this, it becomes a way of life for you that you thrive towards. After all who wants to know what tomorrow holds? Not knowing is SO much more fun… who knows what could be looming around the corner for you. This can bring you close to those around you, as your interests and indulgences contrast and mix together.
In between the mountains you climb, the bridges you cross and the spirited people you connect with along the way, you start to unravel yourself into the human you knew you had inside of you (at least this is how I feel).
A few days ago, I was sitting in a hostel in Dublin, Ireland. I had spent a week with friends down the West coast of Cork and I had come to Dublin a couple of nights to explore and to catch my flight to France.
I sat there watching the minutes tick by, waiting to catch the bus to the airport. I had a new friend next to me, an American named Ryan, who I had spent the day with in Dublin, posting mail back home to our loved ones and resorting from the outside word of Dublin’s cold winds to the inside world of a guitar store, were we sat and played for hours. Although I had this incredible person with me, although I was surrounded by people, I felt lonely. Really, really lonely.
Something that for a long time I would not admit on the road, people would ask me, “Don’t you get lonely traveling by yourself?” and my thoughts are instinctively something along the lines of,”No I’m awesome to be around, I love my own company”. Of course I would word this to those who ask in a less self-obsessed way. But it is true! I do love my own company and I LOVE traveling by myself, I honestly would not have it any other way. Because at the end of the day, who would you want to chose to spend 24/7 with? Who would you want to travel the world with? Who would you want to share some of the most crucial moments in your life with?
I am a firm believer of this, and yes I’ll admit I am selfish in this way. I am 22 years old and I am selfish because I don’t want to work my way around the world with someone, jeopardizing my own interests and actions for someone elses. I don’t want to travel with someone, find a place that I love and have to keep moving because ‘that’s what we had planned’. And I certainly do not want to give into societies standards of finding a job, staying in one place for an extended period of time and living life like so many in this world do, doing something I dislike, surrounded by people who are connected to the constant rat race of what our lives have been “planned” to do, to eat out at night. I would much rather eat plain broccoli and granola anyway… (oh wait I already do that).
However, from time to time the loneliness sets in. You find yourself in a crowded room asking why you did this alone, why your miles away from your family and your friends. Why you are in the BLISTERING COLD, wrapped up literally layer upon layer, while your friends sip ciders, with their sunburnt skin, sitting in the sand on a 40 degree day back home.
All apart of the experience you say? Yes, this is true, but when your sick in bed, far from home, in a cold house in Ireland you some what say “Fuck all the inspirational quotes, I want to go home.”.
Those of you who know me are probably thinking; “Nat?! Saying to hell with it with those inspirational quotes?! No way.”
But its true and it happens.
Fast forward to a week later. I am sitting in my own private hot tub in Paris, I have just had an incredible meal I got to make in a huge kitchen (for me this is a heaven in itself, especially when your traveling and cooking and kitchens are a luxury), I am about switch from hot tub to the sauna I have all to myself, all this regardless of the fact I have literally run out of money, no dollars to my name. This is all thanks to a wonderful French family I found via Workaway.com. In exchange for a little bit of house work I stay in Paris for free for the dedicated time we organized. (Lets be honest though, all I have done is vacuum and make delicious vegan goods for everyone…)
I thought to myself, “To hell with being lonely, this is great! It really IS all apart of the experience!”.
I have said it before and I will say it again and again, I am constantly baffled and astonished with the love, support and unreasonable amount of protection I have been given and I have constantly watching over me. It is overwhelmingly awesome!
The American I met in Ireland handed me over an old book he had already read, he wrote a note in it before giving it to me. Not individually to me, but to whom ever comes across it in the future. It read;
“To you, dear reader, I say: Live, even when living seems hopeless, when all is dark, there are still enough sparks in the world to light your way.”
After a day of mixed emotions in Ireland, it ended in a warm bed in France, I opened the book and found this hidden note, and the sparks that for the first time in a really long time were very dimly lit, (yet still afloat) sparked back into reality, into existence, and I didn’t feel alone anymore… Because in being alone, I have come into so much abundance, so much love, so much personal growth and healing, and have found so much hope in everything I do, and every person I meet, and I knew, I could feel, that we are all alone together.
I called this post “The Fundamentals of Traveling Solo”, I guess what I am really trying to state is that, the most fundamental thing you will experience when traveling solo, is loneliness. Loneliness in its erratic negative influence, and in its forever seeing positive existence. Loneliness, that in the end, could be one of your greatest gratitudes.
In the morning I say Bon Voyage to Paris and hello to Amsterdam! A decision I abruptly made on the spot last night, ahh the joys of spontaneous travel. Making my way to Berlin for Xmas and New Years one country at a time.
PS. If anyone wants to travel on a low budget, check out workaway.com. Bloody excellent site! Like Wwoofing but broader options!