As some of you may or may not know I recently embarked on my first international solo trip ever. I decided that I had to hop on the killer round trip ticket price I got to Peru and shoot down to Machu Picchu. So a couple of weeks ago, I hoped on a plane and made my way to South America, alone.
Every time I travel I keep some kind of journal with me. It’s a great way to recall details that may otherwise disappear with time and age. Which means I wrote about my deepest feelings towards solo traveling on the airplane down to Lima, Peru and on the flight home back to Rhode Island. Looking back I was pretty blown away to see how my attitudes changed and I thought it was amazing that I had this tool to see the comparison.
Flight to Lima, Peru:
“I am terrified. Absolutely terrified. I am on my way towards my Machu Picchu adventure and instead of being flooded with excitement I am instead trying to convince myself that I didn’t make an awful decision. The fear of uncertainty grew increasingly during my 5 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale. By the time I finally made it to my window seat I was feeling completely overwhelmed and unsuccessfully fighting back tears.
Traveling alone feels just that, alone. I don’t have my girlfriend (aka my favorite travel partner) here to blanket me with her familiar, comforting sense of security. Rather, I just have myself, trying to internally convince myself that this wasn’t a terrible decision. I really hope I am brave enough for this. I mean, I think I am. I know deep down, very deep down that I am strong AND brave enough to do this.
Having heard nothing but warnings prior to leaving for South America is certainly where most of my fear is deriving from. What I am hoping for is to get to Peru and all the fear that I’m carrying from myself and from others will be lifted. Only time will tell I suppose. I NEED to remember that I’m built for this. Traveling is one of the things I do best. I CAN DO THIS.”
Now ten days later, I wrote a very different entry.
Flight to Boston:
“Now I’m sitting on the plane, about two hours away from home trying to wrap my head around this whirlwind that was the past ten days. I have learned a lot about myself and how courageous I really am. At first I wasn’t sure if I was built for solo travel. While I do prefer to travel with my babes, now I know I CAN do it alone. I CAN and DID make my dreams come true. Sure, it seemed like a crazy idea but if your dream is to get to the top of Machu Picchu and you have an opportunity then why not take it?
No matter how scared or lonely I was at first, that eventually subsided. Instead, I met like-minded solo and non solo travelers. Together we all seeked out companionship and it resulted into some incredible friendships which I now carry throughout the world. I feel empowered by this trip. I feel even stronger emotionally, mentally, culturally, and even a little physically (but not really because of tequenos, haha).
I also realized how cleansing being in the mountains really is. Even if altitude sickness was a very real threat. Lima was nice but it was just another city coated in a gray overcast. I found bliss among the clear skies of Cusco. It was the amber and snow capped mountains of the Sacred Valley that surrounded me and kept me safe. The Inca lived in a land that could easily be deemed as heavenly. These people got the pleasure to kiss the sky and walk amongst the clouds. I’m thankful that my solo self can now say that I’ve done that too.”
Solo travel is scary, it’s different, it’s a whole other animal. But at the same time, it’s beautiful, it’s rewarding and it’s something that I am so happy I did. Fear can be one hell of a motivator but it’s up to you to harness it. Once you do, the world is yours.