Tomorrow I’m hopping on a train for a three-week interrail trip to Central Europe on my own. I’m planning to visit Munich, Salzburg, Ljubljana, Vienna, Krakow, Prague and Berlin. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. This is going to be my first real solo trip. I’ve taken many flights on my own, spent the occasional day alone at a destination, even moved to London alone. But I’ve never travelled alone for several weeks. I’ve always wanted to try solo travel. Independence is something I find very important. I want to know that whatever situation I may find myself in, I’ll be strong enough to deal with it. I believe it builds character. Even if I wouldn’t enjoy it, it will hopefully still be great life experience. It’s the hard times that teach the most.
But this doesn’t mean I’m not scared. I’m so excited for all the adventures I might have, but I’m also scared that it might be terrible and I’ll be feeling very lonely. That maybe I should just stay home and make my way through my book collection and catch up sleep ? There are several things I feel nervous about, because this trip is going to be many firsts for me.
It will be the first time I’ll be sleeping in hostels and even night trains. Apart from summer camps I’ve never slept in a room with strangers, and I’m not sure I like the idea. It is however something I think I should try while young, so I’m gonna go for it! As so many people stay in hostels all the time, I should be fine. It’s just that I don’t really know what to expect and I’m not an easy sleeper, so I’m slightly nervous to see how it goes.
I’m also feeling a bit nervous about taking trains in countries where I have no clue about the language. Will I be able to find the right trains on time? If I get lost, will I be able to ask for help? I’m generally a bit scared to travel to countries where I don’t understand a single word of the language. I’ve learned many languages in school, so in most countries I’ve visited I’ve had at least a basic understanding of the language. Or other times the language was similar to one I already spoke. You often hear about native English speakers being inflexible or apprehensive about foreign languages, but I must admit that I feel the same way when it comes to unfamiliar languages. I’m sure I’ll be fine, as many others have done this before me. And I guess in touristic city centres at least some people will be able to speak English.
But then there is one thing left that scares me the most: I’m about to leave on a multi-city train trip on my own… I’ll be solely responsible for my survival in unknown places. On top of that comes minding my belongings and finding my way around everywhere. And I’ll have no one to share the experience with, no one to go to a bar or restaurant with and no one to have a fun time with. I know that I might be a bit overly dramatic here. People travel alone all the time. I am a capable human being, so why feel fearful or nervous? I love being alone, but only for about a day or two. After that it gets weird. I start talking to myself, try to make myself laugh with stupid jokes. And after that I just start to feel down and lonely.
I’m not afraid of meeting new people, I’ve had to get over that fear on the day I moved to London. It’s still scary to be the one to start a conversation with a stranger, but I can do it if I push myself. But then I ask myself; what if there isn’t anyone to meet? What if everyone else in the hostels is part of a group of friends already? What if I’ll really be on my own?
That is the thought that scares me most. I tell myself I can go out and see cities on my own, take as many pictures as I want, without feeling rushed by other people. That’s a bit of luxury I like the thought of, but I am still apprehensive about feeling lonely.
I think it all comes down to one lonely afternoon I spent in New York, a little over three years ago. It was the time when David was living in Colombia and we were in a long-distance relationship. I had just visited him there for the first time and knew for sure that I wanted a future with him. That morning we’d said our goodbyes and we didn’t know when we would see each other again. It was later that day that I would roam the streets of New York on my own.
I thought an overnight stop would be a great opportunity to get to see a bit of New York, but it turned out to be a big mistake instead. Still feeling sad about the goodbye, I walked around the city. I’d just come from warm Colombia, and New York was cold in April. The cold seemed to go right through me and I was literally shaking. But I had to see New York, so I bought myself a cardigan and went to explore. Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building and Central Park. I’ve seen them all, but I haven’t really experienced them. My chest felt hollow, and I could only think about the fact that I was all alone. On that day, surrounded by so many people, I felt so vehemently alone. I clearly didn’t have a good time in New York. It has left me with sad memories and a certain dislike for the city altogether. I’m sure it’s not New York’s fault, I never should have visited on such a sad day.
The thing is, I am now afraid that being lonely will result in sad memories of all the lovely places I’ll be visiting the coming weeks. Although I’m probably just being over dramatic ?
Please let me know your thoughts and experiences on solo travel in the comments below! Any reassurances very welcome ?
This is going to be such an amazing trip. The best trips I have taken where when I went solo. Trust your instincts and be fearless (or pretend to be fearless until you are in a safe zone).
Best wishes for this journey. I always get very excited when people go solo!
How exciting that you’re going on your first solo trip!! I think it’s normal to have a few doubts and fears, but try to not let them get to you. Just trustthat whatever happens it will be an adventure and you’ll learn so much about yourself when challenges arise. Have fun! <3
I went through a similar expeirence earlier this year with my first solo adventure. I am usually a shy quiet person, so it was certainly out of my comfort zone. I got a culture shock when I first arrived in Myanmar, but once I was settled into my hostel I made some friends and enjoyed my time. Remember to put yourself out there and be confident to meet new people and try new things!
I just came back from my first solo trip in Korea. I was pretty scared to start with because I had never travelled alone before, but it ended up being incredibly rewarding. The hardest part, oddly enough, is eating at restaurants alone! But aside from that it was fantastic and you meet a lot of new people you may not otherwise meet.
Best of luck and enjoy your trip! The places you are visiting are all absolutely gorgeous 🙂
Don’t worry about being alone. I always say that travelling solo may mean you’re often alone but overall you don’t have to be lonely. You will meet many people along the way – on the train, in your hostels, in a cafe or a bar… Wherever you are, don’t forget to turn to those around you and make a comment about whatever it is around you and you’ll quickly be chatting away. This sounds like an epic trip! Enjoy it!
That’s a big trip and I can understand why it would feel daunting! I did something similar last year – although I spent a week with friends in Switzerland, but then headed to Austria and Sweden on my own. Ended up having a great time and it was actually the solitary journeys on trains and boats that now make up some of my fondest memories of that time. I think there’ll be enough people travelling around Central Europe in much the same manner, who’ll be looking for friendship too. Best of luck with it all.
Thanks so much for all the nice comments! It was really encouraging, and I ended up having a great trip! Will write something about it soon 🙂