Excerpts From A Solo Trip
30 Days Around The World
I love the way that traveling sparks something in us, how it makes us feel brand new like we’re getting to know unexplored parts of ourselves. It challenges us to confront our most uncomfortable states: silence, loneliness, unfamiliarity. Most of all, it tests the boundaries of how far outside our comfort zone we are willing to go. Nothing does that more than going at it solo.
If there is one thing I can’t live without, it’s my black, hardbound journal; It follows me everywhere I go. As I write this, it’s been almost a month since my month long trip to Europe and India. I’m a big believer in timing and the timing of this trip couldn’t have been more synchronistic. Leaving behind K-12 teaching for good at the end of last year, I’ve taken the last few months to focus on family, friends, and self-care. Traveling has always had a way of getting me outside of myself, so it’s no surprise that these four weeks did just that.
This is my fourth solo trip abroad. The most precious thing I always come back with are pages and pages of thoughts, memories, and reflections. Lately, as much as I try to sit down and write, the words don’t flow as well and as poetically as they seem to do in my journal. Rather than torment myself with finding the right ones to say, I’ve decided to share some excerpts from my precious vessel of thoughts. Journaling helps keep me grounded and present, especially when I’m traveling abroad on my own.
A Solo Traveler’s Journal
Reflections from Granada, Spain - March 1st
“It was the summer of wandering - 2010. I’m back in the place where the love affair began: Granada. This is the first time I’m here without the shadow of the past following me around. Though, if I’m being honest, it still lingers. Here’s the thing about Spain: When I’m here, I feel like the true nature of who I am stands out. I go with the flow and I’m a bit more spontaneous.”
“I took a trip down memory lane, at least, that’s what it felt like when my entire study abroad experiences have mostly taken place down one street. It was nice to see certain things stay the same, but others, unfortunately have to change. Yet, despite it being a lifetime ago, I still find myself confronting memories from the past. But, I don’t mind. It shows me how much I’ve evolved, even if just in the sense that I’m not a prisoner of my past anymore.”
Reflections From India - March 11th
“Last day in India. This trip was good for several reasons. India, while new and in some ways frightening, was absolutely a delight. The energy there is unmatched, due to all of the lovely people I met. It’s often we learn the hardest lessons in life without the buffer of something good to soften the blow, but this trip was an exception. Though I continue to feel alone, desperately and utterly alone at times, there are moments of release and surrender.”
Reflections From Madrid, Spain - March 14th
“Why am I afraid to dream? I don’t know. I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever set out to do that I really wanted. Maybe that’s where the fear lies. Maybe I’m afraid it won’t happen anymore, especially since I want to step out from the shadows. I guess that’s really it. So, what does this mean then? Do I live my whole life lurking in the shadows when I so desperately want the light to warm up my face? This trip has pulled out all of my insecurities Marie Kondo style and laid them out from me to ask, ‘Does this bring me joy?’”
Reflections From Lisbon, Portugal - March 20th
“Make the present moment what you want it to be… this is the lesson over and over again. Get rid of the idea of how it should be. That’s why I love traveling. It forces your hand, asks you to adapt and evolve. It surprises you and in turn, you surprise yourself. Be present. Be thankful. Traveling gives us the gift of silence, of slowing down.”
Reflections From 30 Days of Travel - March 28th
“Here we are! End of the road. This has been quite the trip. Honestly, it was wonderful. There were so many moments of clarity. Slowing down was the theme of the month. Granada was surprisingly pain free, despite the cold in my body, there was warmth everywhere else. I was flooded with memories, but not ones I had thought about in a long time. Tucked away somewhere in my mind there were scenes from a summer long forgotten.”
“Back in Madrid, I revisited my old stomping grounds, finding myself at an “in renovation” Colegio Jesús-María. Much like its exterior, the people on the inside were also going through a transformation, each changing with the half decade that had since passed. Familiar faces lined the hallways, some the same, some a little weary, most of them unaware of this girl who once roamed through those halls 4-5 years before. That first lunch with an old friend was lovely. That man never changes, even when his circumstances do. We caught up like we hadn’t been able to over the summer and swapped stories and revelations that brought our friendship closer together.”
“Then there was India. Startling, new, and overstimulating, India was everything I had needed and more. It forced my hand and presented me with one option: let go. So I did. No data, no sense of knowing, but the confidence that it would all be ok. After all, love was what brought all 28 of us there from around the world, so something must have been right in the stars. The unfamiliarity jolted me out of my slumber, out of complacency. It wasn’t just the trip to an unfamiliar place, but the union, the marvelous, colorful union of two bright and beautiful souls that gave me hope.”