Solo Travel for the Lonely

When I was 20, I was fortunate to be able to study abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland for my Junior year of College. There, I lived in a flat style dorm, sharing the kitchen and living space with 9 others. Unfortunately, my relationship with my flat mates was tenuous at best (save the times I made apple pie, then I was their best friend).

One day, I couldn’t handle their snark anymore and decided to journey on my own for the weekend. So I took the train down to a little town on the coast of Ireland, arriving just around 5pm. I imagined a hike followed by a lovely meal out where I would visit with locals and be invited to their home for tea and crumpets.

It didn’t work out that way.

My hike was cut short due to darkness, the one cafe was closing in about 20 minutes, and there was nobody around to boot.

All was not lost. I thought, I will go back to the hotel, enjoy my book and some television and perhaps catch up on my emails to home.

The hotel had no tv and no internet access. So there I was, 7:00 at night, just me and my book that I was suddenly not interested in. I panicked. I was alone. Literally. There was nobody but me and the thoughts that I could conjure. And boy was I good at conjuring thoughts.

That’s the problem with loneliness. When we are alone, we often become our own worst enemy. I ended up panicking, checking out of the hotel, and catching the last train back to Belfast.  The trip was a shambles. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed in myself. My perception of myself as an independent world traveler was destroyed. I couldn’t even handle one night on my own.

Over ten years later, I was reminded of this failed journey when a friend recommended this blog post to me: “How and Why to Travel Alone.”

As I planned my solo trip to Turkey a couple of years ago, I dreamed of an experience like this bloggers, but I also feared a repeat of my Irish jaunt. Being alone is a skill that some people just have to learn and practice to be good at.

I wish I could say I knew how to learn to be alone. My personal journey of learning to enjoy it came out of necessity – moving to new cities and having no friends, roommates moving away, being dumped, etc. Slowly, I figured out that my own company was pretty great. So great, in fact, that when people asked me if they could come with me to Turkey, I flat out said no. It’s just like the blogger above said, I wanted all the WTF time I could have.

The best thing, I met other travelers, was never lonely, and still got my own WTF time. So find your bliss, and do it…alone.

 

WHAT THE CARP AM I DOING?

You know that moment when your senses are on high alert and you simply stop doing anything?  My counselor said, generally, when people are afraid, they will take one of two actions: a) They will RUN or act quickly in some soft of way or (less likely) b) they will freeze and do nothing.

So here I am, I finally have the information on how much my tax return is (not as much as I was hoping, damned tax brackets), and there’s a really good price on a flight to Istanbul.

In the meantime, there was just a suicide bombing at the Embassy in Ankara (not that I’m going to Ankara anyways) AND a young woman just one year older than me (who was travelling alone) was just found murdered in Istanbul.  Commence family and friend panic which = Jessica panic.

So I’m sitting here, frozen by fear of money and terrorists, doing nothing and wondering if I should go someplace else. I talked to my mom who made some suggestions, but nothing is jumping out at me. NOTHING.  I’ve been thinking about Turkey since last May, so maybe I’m just too focused. And of course, I could go another time, but really, when will I ever REALLY have the $$ and when will it REALLY be safe to go anywhere?

So I booked it.  Yep. Just did it. Decided not to let the fear make me frozen.  Can’t wait to see what my counselor says about that.

Am I afraid? Absolutely!  I’ve had had so many friends tell me how brave I am for going alone, they would never do that!  (You hear that enough and you start to doubt yourself pretty quickly).

But am I excited? EVEN BIGGER ABSOLUTELY.

So, here goes the newest adventure in Jessica Kimmet’s crazy life.

Well, here it goes on May 30-June 11 anyways 🙂