Again, I planned a ridiculous trip that I am trying to accomplish by purely lugging a school backpack around and a purse. This journey takes me to Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest, London, Southend-on-Sea, Cheltenham, and Prague in 3 short weeks. This is my attempt to document this journey which differs drastically than any other trip I’ve experienced thus far.
Prepping for this trip was difficult. You see, I am traveling for vacation and for work. But unlike most people, I’m starting my journey with my vacation and ending with a conference that I’m helping run. In retorspect (as much retorspect one can have before a journey starts) this was poor planning but it was an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up.
I spent the week leading up to this trip dealing with excessively long work days, no sleep, logistical nightmares (at least they were for me since I pack the night before and I had to figure out my clothes a week early) and just a general sense of pure panic.
I choose to do my vacation in Barcelona because I have a strong desire to stand in the Sagrada Familia and experience Gaudi architecture in real life. Plus, Spain is delightful. I added Budapest because originally I was going to go after Prague and it was close proximity. Once I got that idea in my head, I refused to take Prague off my list even though my travel plans changed. I added Brussels because there are no affordable direct flights between Barcelona and Budapest and I’ve heard Brussels is small enough that you can accomplish it in a day.
I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this portion of my journey but I am probably the most terrified for this portion. You see, the last time I traveled alone was the first time I really vacationed alone and in all reality, it was only 3 out of 10 days I spent alone. This trip is different. I am alone for 8 days. 8 days of traveling alone, solitude, soul searching, getting lost and self discovery.
I had a conversation with a friend about traveling alone and she talked about all the people she met on her last trip. I, on the other hand, did not have any awesome stories to share with her. During that conversation I realized that when I travel alone, I surround myself with the city and my thoughts. When I’m home, it’s a go-go-go lifestyle in which I spend most of my day constantly connected to my friends whether in person or via technology. Don’t get me wrong, I adore each and everyone one of them. But one thing I have found is that something comes up when I travel and sitting alone on an airplane and now actually traveling alone grounds me. It brings me a further appreciation of each person in my life. And it helps me remember just how small and trivial my own problems are. Spending time alone with your thoughts is a very grounding experience.
I’m terrified to spend the next week alone and the next three weeks in a different time zone than my friends, foreign countries and perpetually outside of my comfort zone. But I guess that’s also what I love so much about traveling. I can’t hide behind the familiar and I have to experience new things because I have no other option.
I may be panicking but, as I write this (probably posted later), I am so excited that I don’t even have the words to fully express it.