10 Shades of a Solo Traveler

I am on an emotional rollercoaster of a journey and it is wonderful, transformational and life-changing through and through.  I am traveling the world alone- 9 countries and counting- having a very unique experience.  But here’s the thing, I’m not really alone in this experience.  The more people I meet and get to know in my travels, the more I have realized nearly everyone who travels solo is experiencing the same type of “up and down” existence.

Your senses are heightened when you are traveling in a foreign place- especially when you are alone.  At first the ups and downs surprised me- I even felt guilty for any moment of emotion outside the realm of happiness.  I was so incredibly excited to pursue this lifelong goal of traveling around the world, I did not think there could be any downs.  This is the best decision I have made in my life, why would I ever be sad?  The thing is, long-term traveling and exploring is a quest.  I am on a major journey that is changing me- and anyone who knows change, knows it can be painful.  Growing pains…it’s a thing.  Of course there are emotions attached.

Here are 10 shades of the travel rainbow from a girl on the other side of the globe.  

  1.  Lost: I am constantly getting lost. It’s good and it’s bad at different times- and certainly always eye opening. Sometimes I can ask for help and actually get it, other times I am wandering around aimlessly searching for some sign that points me in the right direction.  Any sign that tells me I am on the correct path is like finding gold.  The feeling of being lost is stressful but also incredibly freeing at the same time.  I’ve learned to embrace this one- most of the time.    IMG_1095
  2. Found: Even though half the time I have no idea where I am or where I’m headed, I have this sense of peace now after months of living in a “lost” state. I have found that I am never really lost. Lost would imply I have somewhere exact to be and I can’t find my way there. I, however, have nowhere to be but here- wherever that is at the moment.
  3. Inspired: You will meet some incredible people on your journey. People from every corner of the world that come with unique, interesting stories and offer insight into a part of the world you’ve never seen. You will see art that evokes emotion out of you and makes you think in new ways. You don’t have to be an artist to feel inspired creatively when you’re traveling the world.  And you don’t even have to be a “people person” to be inspired by all the travelers you will meet.  Whether I’ve looked for it or not, inspiration hits me in an ongoing fashion.

    Amazing people- each one with a story.
    Travelers with stories…and beer makes for a great night!
  4. Lonely: This one is to be expected. You are traveling very far away from home by yourself, after all. Forgive yourself for this one and accept it as part of the process. Every time I have felt lonely, it not only passes quickly but it strengthens something inside of me. It is an indicator and a challenge and a gift all at the same time. Loneliness is a reminder of the bad ass decision I made to travel solo and that is something that takes guts! When this emotion pops up, I am forced to remember that, which tends to shift my mood quickly anyway.

    Bottle of Prosecco for one!
    Bottle of Prosecco for one!
  5. Tired: Oh so tired all the time! Jet lag is REAL. Exhaustion is even more real- especially after long travel days, sleepless nights, and walking miles upon miles while discovering the city you’re visiting. The good thing? When you’re this tired, you know you have earned a good night’s sleep doing something you love. How many times could you say that at home?  IMG_2217
  6. Alive: During my travels I become alive- completely, wholly- and from the stories I hear from countless others, this is a common theme. Travel awakens you and enlightens you. When you are able to see the rest of the world and learn that it’s packed full of human beings with warm blood just like yours, you realize you are part of something. You are part of something much bigger than yourself- something called humanity. You are a living, breathing contributing member of the world and its your choice what you decide to share with the rest of the world.

    On top of the world in Brasov, Romania!
    On top of the world in Brasov, Romania!
  7. Uninhibited: There is this sense of complete and utter freedom that gets you high while traveling. Knowing that you are only temporarily in the place you stand, speaking to people you probably will never see again is quite liberating. You are free to be say, think and do whatever you want- and what better time than to just BE YOU!? You can be wholeheartedly, unapologetically you; and guess what? If someone doesn’t like it and gives you a hard time, you’ll never see them again! So there are no worries.
  8. Naked: How many times at home I used to say “I feel naked without this or that” and now I live without it all.  I am stripped down to complete basics living out of a backpack.  While I don’t literally walk around naked (although that would quite interesting) I feel bared down to just me.   It feels good.  IMG_2126
  9. Light: I am completely free.  I own almost nothing.  My carbon footprint is nearly nonexistent.  I no longer have a car or an apartment.  Some backpackers have much less than I do but I am learning what I really need as I go along.  At the end of the day, I only have what I can fit on my back.  Which leads me to my next point…
  10. Heavy: Me and my heavy backpack (it weights 17 kg and I have renamed it “Big Red Mother F*%ker).  We have an intense love-hate relationship.  Anyone that has seen me set that thing down has probably heard me say “God, I hate that thing.”  But then again, “that thing” that gives me all the back pain and weighs me down, also carries all my belongings that will get me through every country and every climate across all the distance.  I need it and it needs me to carry it across the distance.  Hey, at least I’m getting stronger!  IMG_1268

8 thoughts on “10 Shades of a Solo Traveler

  1. For lack of a more sophisticated comment; you’re blowing me away! Heather, you are an inspiration as we follow you follow your dreams. I feel like I’m traveling with you! 🙂


  2. This is actually so helpful to point out! I remember when I was about to land for my first solo trip, I felt so hesitant and started wondering what I was doing. It was fear, partly of the unknown of travelling solo and partly of how I would fit into the city and with other travellers. I think there’s a myth out there that solo travellers are happy and content with the constant adventure and that’s only half the picture. Thanks for writing this!


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