How Do You Learn To Travel The World Solo?

9-18-23 Skopje, North Macidonia

It seems so long ago, but I remember the night well.

It was the night before my first solo trip to Europe. I spent months planning, and I was going to be the first person I knew who was going to Paris. I was excited, yes. Who wouldn’t be? But I was scared to death.

Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of going to exotic places I found in books. Whether it was the National Parks of the U.S. Or the incredible historical sites of Europe. I remember looking at the pictures of castles I had studied history. And those were places of wonder for me.

And it wasn’t till I was in my forties that I was settled enough to start taking those trips. First, it was places like Utah, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park. And then Europe.

How Do You Plan To Go To Europe?

When I first decided to go to Europe I was going to see everything. 8 countries in 7 days and take in the entire continent. I wasn’t going to let this pass me by. I had a grand plan. I would book train trips at night, sleep on the train, and be ready to go when I got to the next city or country. It was going to be a trip of a lifetime. Or so I thought.

The logistics just didn’t work out. The trains didn’t run when and where I needed them to run. And soon my planning had giant gaps. I would miss attractions and have to skip things and, and, and. I couldn’t make it work. It was then…

My Son Sensed My Frustration and Said To Me…

You like museums, why don’t you go to Paris for a week. They have plenty of museums. Well, I looked closer at Paris and it had tons of museums and a whole lot more. And when I checked prices online, guess what? It was in my price range.

So Paris for a week it was. I spent a month or two searching the internet for things to do in Paris. And it didn’t take long to realize there was more to do than I could in a week. I checked the hours of, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the catacombs, and the Eiffel Tower. I had a great itinerary and pretty soon I was online booking a flight and hotel. And I was done.

I Was Finally Going to Fulfill a Lifelong Dream.

The days went by as counted down till the big day arrived. And here I was, the night before my adventure of a lifetime, scared out of my mind. It just so happened a friend stopped by to wish me luck and asked how I was doing. I said I was nervous. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

The more I thought about it the more panicked I got. I’m going to get in a tin can, fly across the ocean, and visit a city I’ve never been to before. What was I thinking? I didn’t speak the language. I just picked a hotel off the internet. I didn’t know what I was doing.

Could This Be A Total Nightmare?

I don’t remember how I slept that night but I was a bottle of nerves the day of the trip. I got to the airport hours early as I waited for the flight to board.

We’ll I made to Paris, I went through customs. I found my prepaid ride waiting for me and I was now driving the streets of Paris. I was a kid in a candy shop as I looked out the window realizing I had fulfilled a lifelong dream.

But it wasn’t till I was dropped off at my hotel at 8 a.m. When it hit me… I’m in Paris. I dropped my luggage off at the front desk of the hotel I picked online, and headed out. I was just a couple blocks away from the Louvre, so I headed that way. And in minutes fear left me, and curiosity set in.

Well, needless to say, the trip went well. I came back to the States pumped out of my mind. The lady at immigration saw the excitement on my face and asked, your first trip to Paris? I said yes. Have you ever been there? I said. She said yes, smiled, stamped my passport, and said welcome home.

Today I’m One Of The Most Experienced Travelers I Know

I’ve been to more countries, seen more sites, and been to more foreign cities than most anyone I know. And since then I’ve been to 15 different countries, walked on five continents, and been to the five top art museums in the world.

Sometimes I daydream about what I’ve done. I’m kind of surprised when I realize all the places I’ve been to. And all the things I’ve done. I remember a friend asking me, were these the places you’ve dreamed about going to for years? My reply was not really. Because I’ve seen more stuff and been to more places than I ever dreamed of.

So How Do You Start Traveling The World?

It’s simple. Just remember what Like Lao Tzu said in the 6th century BC, “even the longest journey begins with a single step”.

So now it’s time to ask yourself, are you ready to make that single step?

Or are you going to let your lifelong dreams pass you by?

Till next time, enjoy life’s journey.

Joe O’Brien

2 thoughts on “How Do You Learn To Travel The World Solo?”

  1. Great post. I remember planning my first international solo journey. It was scary, but I knew I had traveled a lot before and it’s just a different place. People are more alike that they are different and I took the leap. It was good to read how you allow your curiosity to lead and guide you- I find that a good mindset to nurture. After that first solo trip, I can’t seem to stop. Sure, I get lonely at times, but more often than not, I use the time to write and reflect on all that I have seen and done that day.

    1. Hello Keith, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Time to yourself, self reflection and learning are things you’ll do when traveling long term, its hard not to. My first five and a half months of travel, to eleven countries, were more exploratory. This time I’m digging deeper into every country I’m returning to.

      Again, if there’s any type of specific information your looking for let me know. If I can’t help I’ll send you in the right direction.

      Thanks, Joe

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