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How did your first solo trip change you as a person??

Arre

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2006
I've never done a solo trip by myself (I'm only seventeen), but I was an exchange student in Sweden last year and that definitely changed me a lot. I love the feeling of figuring things out by myself and, like some of you have mentioned, I'm a lot more outgoing and lively when I'm out on my own.

And I know it's peanuts compared to a real solo trip, but I had the coolest afternoon of my life recently when my dad and I were on a trip to Singapore and we got separated in the middle of Little India. I had NOTHING with me except a room key and about three dollars for emergencies. I wound up having a blast working my way back to where we were staying.

Like a lot of you, I'm in my element when I find myself somewhere unfamiliar and have to work out how to get what I need.

Travel Mum

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  • Added on: April 6th, 2006
Well, it wasn't techically a solo trip but considering I was with my seven year old, it was all on me. I am embarassed to even say this, but we went to London. I know, not exactly exotic -- but it totally opened my world. I bought the tickets totally on impulse (I was looking for tickets to North Carolina and a super sale on BA popped up -- I bought those instead). It was much harder than I thought it would be -- I had told myself that it would be a piece of cake because they spoke English -- but everything was out of my comfort zone -- the city, the traffic, the money, the food, the accents, the transportation, everything...

Coming home from that trip, I felt like such a grownup -- never mind that I had a career, was raising a child alone, and had finished a graduate program -- I really felt like an adult when I took my child out of the US for the first time (and myself -- it was the first time I had ever been out of the country...I hadn't even been to Mexico or Canada!) and figured out how to make it work with absolutely no one as my safety net. It absolutely was one of my defining moments -- I was so proud of myself on the plane back to the states. And we totally got the travel bug...that was only three years ago, but since then, we have already been to Ireland, Mexico, Canada, London (again), Hawaii, Thailand and are heading to Costa Rica next week and Kenya next year.

I found out that I am much stronger than I thought I was and that I will do whatever I set my mind to. That first trip has enriched my life tenfold -- and has changed the way I view the world and my feeling of responsibility of raising a child with a global perspective. My impulse buy was the smartest thing I have ever done.

happytraveller

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  • Added on: August 29th, 2006
Great thread, btw.

It's so true... travelling by yourself can be a real eye opener. You learn so much about yourself.

Before my rtw trip I always used to say that I wasn't a fan of my own company and preferred to be around others. But after living in dorms and using communal bathrooms for a few months I quickly learned that actually I really value my privacy and time alone with my thoughts.

Travelling alone also provides a huge sense of achievement - it makes you a stronger person and teaches you to believe in yourself. I remember one particularly bad day when I was suffering from a mild fever and was travelling between Malaysia and Thailand with some friends. The journey was horrendous - we came upon quite a few obstacles and my feeling so bad didn't make the day any easier. I've quite often said how glad I am they were there that day as I couldn't have managed it on my own. However, when I actually stop to think about it, I would have managed on my own because I would have had to have managed. The only alternative would have been for me to just sit down and say something along the lines of "That's it. I'm not going any further... I'll just stay right here on this spot with no food or accomodation until somebody offers to help me." Hmm... !

At the end of the day, when you're on your own you just have to deal with whatever situation life throws your way. Sitting down and burrying your head in the sand simply isn't an option. It might not be easy, but I think everybody has it in them - sometimes it just takes a difficult situation and an unpleasant day to realise it.

Corvinus

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  • Added on: August 29th, 2006
It was 1975, and much to the grief and anger of my parents decided to go to Yucatán rather than Cleveland to visit them. Several things happened on that trip that have affected me ever since:

  • I lost my fear of heights forever by climbing MesoAmerican pyramids. Not that I went in for mountain-climbing or anything like that, but the fear just evaporated.
  • It suddenly hit home that a dank mildewed tropical city like Mérida could still be a really neat destination. Things could be remarkable while not resembling Disneyland in the slightest.
  • I felt for the first time like a traveler, and that this was my destiny. (Since then, I have had to make compromises in order to keep my head above water enough to allow me to travel.)
  • I stayed in funky old cheap hotels for the first time and didn't mind it. The atmosphere at the Gran Hotel and other places more than made up for the ratty showers and threadbare bed linen.
  • Shortly after my return, I started having better luck in my relationships. Something undefinable had changed inside of me.

Now, if I could only travel more.

Jim Paris

sonofpatter

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2006
When I was in 8th grade I went to Haiti. I think my father thought I should see the worst hell-hole he could find so the two of us joined an Church work mission there. It was shortly after Baby Doc had lost power but no one had replaced him yet. Anarchy is supposed to be frightening but the island was still celebrating the riddance of that man. I wonder if that is why I enjoy traveling so much. Because Haiti was the first place I went overseas I think buried in my sub-conscious is the idea that anywhere outside of the United States is Haiti. Therefore no manner where I go I always am pleasently surprised. “Hey, at least its better than Haiti.”

I say that with tongue firmly in cheek. As an 8th grader Haiti was overwhelming but I want to go back again and see what my younger eyes could not.
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otherspoon

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2006
Fantastic thread!

I'm a few months into a long RTW and although Russia was a little rough, a story too strange for this post, I feel completely liberated traveling alone.

NY is home so I'm usually working at lightning speed. But these days nothing riles me. I have no reservations, no plans, I do what I want without notice.

Biggest change, and I thank BnA for the suggestion, I propositioned my hometown newspaper and they made me a travel correspondent.

It's a dream to write for a living, albeit a meager one. But I'm finally doing it. I never had the balls before to try it.

Two years to go. Already I can eat anything, sleep anywhere, take pleasure just in existing. "This is living" I think all the time.

Se_Globetrotter

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2006
I realized I was better off by myself and out of my booooooring country that is Norway, when I went on my first trip for six weeks in London by myself. I realized that I could only realize my potential outside of my normal setting.

Smile
After that I have been traveling for almost a year (with six months study mixed in at two locations) and am now back home. I can not wait to get out of here again! So I am thinking of going on a grand Asia tour for six months. I will be officially studying at Uni but have planned for months my genius scheme of choosing subjects with no obligatory attendance and never showing up (except from continuing exams in spring) and getting a loan from the government to fund my studies

Genius Cool

ohmama

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  • Added on: September 18th, 2006
first solo trip to the US- i decided to take a year off of school and take 2nd solo trip
second solo trip to Aus/NZ - i decided to drop out of school and follow a new path
3rd solo trip to West Africa- i got married to a local, came home and enbarked on 4th solo trip (well my hubby was there so maybe it wasnt so solo?)
4th solo trip to West Africa - came home preggers and havent looked back!!

i have been home for 2 years now but i try to live everyday here at home as a traveller - always discovering new places and things and secret corners of this crazy city i live in.. i have life-changing realizations practically daily. life is crazy!! Wink
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travel bug

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  • Added on: September 25th, 2006
I really have to echo much of what people have said here.

I've done a few solo trips, scattered over the past 6 years or so, all just a bit more adventurous than the last. I started out with about 5 or 6 weeks travelling across my own country and up north, moved on to a short overseas trip in western europe, and to a longer overseas trip in eastern europe.

For me, the major benefit has been to be able to prove to myself that I can be independent and can take care of myself. To know that in theory has been quite different from having concrete evidence. That knowledge, in turn, has I think left me feeling more confident at home as well.

Michelle72

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  • Added on: December 11th, 2006
It's been great to read all of your thoughts.

Although my last two trips have been solo (albeit the first one was quite short) in that I went alone, I was rarely ever actually alone because on both trips I started finding people to hang out with on the plane. I realize this is a bit of cheating, but it was a big step for me and I still find myself agreeing with much of this thread.

Before I went away had very little confidence, and my main worries when I was leaving were last-minute doubts about finding anyone who would like me at all. I was never able to feel like I could ever break out of feeling this way when I was here. It wasn't until I went away and was in some senses on my own that I was able to stop hating myself so much and actually become somewhat confident in myself as a person, and in my abilities to survive (and be happy) on my own. I surprised myself by being much stronger than I thought I was, and this feeling stayed with me when I came back, although it isn't as strong as it was before. Case in point: I never noticed, cared, or questioned it before when my family insulted me (although never in a malicious manner), but four insults into my dinner the day after I came home and I definitely noticed because I wasn't used to it and I didn't believe it anymore. I didn't hesitate to say that it bothered me and that it hurt me more than they intended it to, and was actually able to change something that's been bothering me for a long time. Sure it's a very small example, I mean this wasn't exactly standing up to Goliath, but it meant and still means a lot to me.

Traveling alone also changed my views of what I want to do with the rest of my life and what it means to be successful. Before my boldest dream was spending a year abroad, but after proving to myself that I get along perfectly well on my own I know that I'm able to and want to go to university abroad. In more long-term plans (because thus far this post has been nothing if not a flashing sign pointing out that I'm not exactly a paragon of elderly wisdom), I now know that happiness doesn't necessarily come from the typical idea of success, or at least not for me; I was happier being dirt poor than I've ever been here and would gladly give up all the money I have to be that happy again.

Moiraine

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  • Added on: December 18th, 2006
It made me realize how much I had been missing. And luckily now, stuck at home working and trying to scrape together meager savings, it makes me realize those things even more.

Bush Trekker

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  • Added on: December 23rd, 2006
My first trip alone started out with a companion when I was 17. We had an argument so I continued on alone. Since then I have travelled with companions and alone. Now I travel by myself because when you travel with others you tend not to spend time meeting as many of the local people and that's why I travel. I love meeting new people and getting into the culture.
One exception I love travelling with circuses and carnivals but that is whole 'nother world.
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I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
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Traveler_2007

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  • Added on: January 2nd, 2007
I took my first solo trip last summer. I was pretty nervous about what to expect because I always traveled with someone. Meeting new people and the total freedom to do what you want when you want are definite pluses. I was also very surprised by how many people one can meet, locals and fellow travelers alike.
I actually look forward to travel solo again.

Jacob G. Norlund

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  • Added on: December 29th, 2007
I went to New York alone for a week last March - not the biggest adventure destination or most distant voyage, but "adventurous" and "distant" enough for my solo-ness to surprise people at home.

I don't know if I'd call it "life-changing", but if anything, the trip made me much more confident as a traveller. Prior to going to NYC, I had a morbid fear of airports - losing luggage, not going through the right lines, etc. Now I am especially more confident in that respect.
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Craze_b0i

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  • Added on: December 30th, 2007
I remember my first trip, I was really scared of the airport as well. It was so massive and I had no previous experience of airports to tell me how it all worked. I was there hours early and still scared I would end up at the wrong departure gate somehow.

My first trip was 10 days in Berlin. I had bought a pocket guide that listed the sights, but no LP. I didn't even know LP existed. Beforehand I had been cautious about travel and just planned to stay in Berlin for 10 days. But after I had been there a few days I became confident and decided to travel around a bit. Having no guidebook I just picked out various German Towns and cities I had heard about in history class, so I went to some odd places - but it felt good to have chosen them myself.

It was lucky that I chose Germany, since it is one of the friendliest countries I have ever been. That first trip gave me confidence that I could travel alone. I also heard the word InterRail for the first time, which opened the door to future travels. I had been pretty reserved as a person, sticking closely to the friends I knew. Travelling alone forced me to be more open and speak to new people. As a result I became much more confident in talking to strangers and meeting new people.
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