Featured, Personal, Travel

Deep Thoughts from Traveling Solo in Greece

June 27, 2019

Photo by Erin Outdoors

What a trip. For a full recap, see this post

On the flight over, I was trying to think about why I was going on this trip and what I wanted to get out of it. 

I also wanted a chance to explore what travel means for me. Why do I travel if it’s alone and not to spend time experiencing something with someone I care about? A weekend trip is one thing, but a 2 week trip to Greece is another. Why was I really doing this? It’s a hard thing to answer. Maybe I just got it in my head. Or just wanted to. But I think I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I think I had to separate travel from relationships. 

I’ll break up the trip into a few parts.


First, the first 6 days when I was completely solo.

 

Traveling along gave me confidence

I loved traveling solo. More than I thought I would, which is saying something. Figuring out things like metro maps, public transport, AirBnb locations, ferry tickets, food, money, and rental cars wasn’t easy, but it gave me such confidence when I did these things successfully. I even survived being pickpocketed with very minor losses.

I learned to be patient with myself

Being alone, I was only accountable and responsible for my own actions, feelings, and desires. I challenged myself to be patient with others, with logistics, and most importantly, with myself. It felt incredibly liberating and almost powerful to be so in tune with myself and what I wanted to do. I could do everything and nothing all at the same time. It’s a wonderful thing to enjoy hanging out with yourself.

There are more important things than posting on Instagram

I posted less on social media than ever. I wasn’t as obsessed with getting perfect photos everywhere I went. Somehow photos and posting just seemed less important. There seemed to be more important things to do than worry about what to post on Instagram.

I survived getting pick-pocketed

I think the solo part made me stronger. If I wanted something, I had to make it happen. No one else was going to, and I had to stand up for myself a little. I couldn’t let myself be embarrassed if I walked by the same street vendor 3 times because I took a wrong turn. I had to sit alone at restaurants and flag down the waiter for the check. I even had to figure out what to do when my wallet was stolen.

Sometimes I had no plan

There was really only one time when I got really frustrated/upset, and that was when Google maps sent me to the wrong address for my last AirBnb and I ended up walking 25 minutes in the wrong direction with my suitcase. Other than that, I was the most relaxed and flexible I’ve ever been with myself. Sometimes I had no real plan. I’d lay on the beach until it felt like the right time to move on. I spontaneously went to dinner with a girl I met on a beach.

I met some really cool strangers

I also found that I really enjoyed talking to other travelers through the trip. Since I was alone, it was almost like there was less of a barrier between me and other travelers, especially other solo travelers. I met so many really cool people from all over the world. It was surprisingly easy to talk about deeper topics too. Since we weren’t going to see each other again, there was nothing really to lose. I had really good conversations with strangers, and they each really inspired me. Here are a few: 

To Kamal, the engineer from India: I learned a lot more about Indian culture. I admire that you are taking advantage of your time in the Netherlands to travel throughout Europe. 

To Dmitris from Delphi: You were an interesting one. I trusted you a bit and let you drive me down a hill on your scooter to my car. I probably shouldn’t have done that, but you were true to your word. However, when I looked at you, I knew that when I’m 37, I don’t want the life that you have. Thank you for that.

To Michelle: Oh you were just the best. You travel so much, and you’re so inspiring. You have a full time job, but also make time to travel solo. Thank you for watching the sunset with me, letting me take photos of you, and for a wonderfully long dinner with deep conversation. It was also refreshing to see you ask for exactly what you wanted- flagging down the waiter, asking for a discount in the store. You are fearless.

To Tom: You were also really great. You taught me to look for passion, talent, and then experience when building a team. You want roots, but you also want the freedom to travel the world. Even though you’re almost 40, you seemed so self-assured, free, and yet in control of your really awesome life. You told me that you left Australia because you didn’t like being a big fish in a small pond. You wanted to be surrounded by people who were also really good at what they do. That really made me think. You were obviously brilliant and talented. I want to be like you when I’m older.

To Michael: You literally interrupted me while I was journaling. You were funny, and it was interesting to hear your perspective on the US.


Now for the group trip:

Even though I never thought I would do a group trip like this. I’m glad I did it. Erin and Dimitris did a fantastic job organizing the trip. Erin led great group discussions, and we definitely did things that I would have never been able to do on my own. I was happier with the group trip than I thought I would be, but it didn’t have quite the impact that the solo portion did. I think maybe I get more out of an experience when I’m in charge and I have to figure out what to do. 

That being said, the people on the trip were incredible, and by the end of the 5 days we had become a super close knit unit. I’m thankful for these people who pushed me out of my comfort zone a little, and made me really think about my future.


So what am I taking with me into the future?

  • I don’t need to wait for clarity to do things or make decisions
  • I will set aside quite time at night again to journal and reflect. 
  • I will have more patience with myself.
  • I will be more open to talking with people.

 

Thank you Greece.

Sarakiniko Beach, Milos

View from the top of Tsigrado Beach on the island of Milos

Photo by Erin Outdoors

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I'm Abby, an arthritic introvert living in Delaware and traveling the world with a chronic illness, a camera, and a love for ice cream. I'm passionate about outdoor adventures, and overcoming obstacles to make those adventures accessible.

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