In 2007, when I first got my job as a flight attendant, I decided that I wanted to travel outside of the US, however, I had no one to travel with. No one I knew had a passport or had the money to travel outside the US. I relayed this frustration to one of my pilot friends and he said, “Go by yourself! If you wait for someone to travel with you, you will never travel anywhere.” I thought to myself, “ah hell nah, I am not doing that.” He explained that he traveled alone more than once and that insured me that if I was scared then I should go to London. He explained that people spoke English and the subway system was easy to navigate. Mind you I grew up in Denver and California and the only place I lived outside of there was Houston, Texas. However, I decided to take his advice and I began to plan my trip to London.
Preparing to go solo across the pond
For my first trip to London I over prepared. I booked a lot of my tours and transportation cards on-line so that I would have them prior to getting to London. I booked a hostel without really knowing what a hostel was. My routes were all mapped out from the airport and to the hostel I was staying at. Let’s just say the preparation was pretty overwhelming but I figured that it’s better to be over prepared than not prepared at all (a motto I don’t really subscribe to anymore). With all this preparation I felt I was prepared to go across the pond to London.
Arriving in London, UK
Once I was through customs and went outside the airport to find the train into London and the reality set in that “I’m really in London ALL by myself!” I’m not going to lie I was scared and anxious. All that preparation that I did prior to leaving the USA didn’t prepare me for the anxiousness that I would feel, but I got on the train to London and took in the scenery and the landscape of a country that I only seen on TV. Soon my anxiousness became more of amazement and soon I began to relax. I got to the hostel way before the check in time and I realized that the flight and the time difference hit me hard and the only thing my body wanted to do was sleep. I only had 4 days in the UK and did not want to miss out on anything. However I realized that when I was booking my hostel and tours I didn’t think about the time change! After I checked in I realized I payed for a night that was a day before and I missed one of my tours! Of course I was living in California at the time and being nervous about making a solo trip I didn’t think about the time change! Nonetheless, I decided to book a hop on hop off bus tour from the hostel and I went to explore London.
The realization of being solo in London
Since this was my first trip alone outside of the states I wasn’t as social as I am now. I was too afraid to put myself out there and I didn’t want people to know that I was traveling solo because I didn’t want to get ‘snatched up.’ I didn’t go out and drink or really travel alone at night to see some cool places. Put it this way, I was a complete nerd and was at times bored wishing I had someone with me to explore this amazing place. I stuck to my schedule of tours and really didn’t try new things. I know I missed out on a lot of things and meeting new people on this first trip solo.
My growth in traveling
Since my London trip, I’ve been to 13 countries! Israel, Thailand, Switzerland, and Ireland were all solo trips. London was just a tip of the iceberg for things to come. It wasn’t as adventurous, but it made me realize that I can travel solo and safely. I book fewer tours and I have become more of an explorer. I’ve become social and I’ve made many new friends. I’ve seen and done things that I thought I would never see in life all because I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I discovered that I could overcome challenges when faced with adversity. With each travel adventure I learn a bit more of myself.