Deciding to travel solo

I haven’t written a whole lot about my upcoming travel plans, aside from my mentions of attending FINCON12 (speaking of which; I need a roommate or I won’t be able to go! Please email me if you’re in the same boat!) Mostly, I haven’t mentioned it because much of it has just been dreaming and half-planning things I would like to do. I’ve been thinking about taking a week or two off this summer to travel. I love travel and one of my primary motivations to get my financial shit together has been an increased freedom and ability to see the world. I feel such excitement when I get the privilege of being able to go somewhere! I realize I am so fortunate.

At first I had a short jaunt planned to NYC with my sister last month, which got cancelled after she had her passport stolen, after that I discussed travelling to Newfound Land with some family members but for various reasons that also, fell through. (It was expensive too) I also talked to long-lost childhood friend from Milan, Italy, this past winter about going to Italy to see Milan and Rome and was invited to stay at their vacation home in Tuscany. How awesome would that be? Meet old friends, and see beautiful Italy too! But that never came together either, perhaps next year.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Left with no summer vacation plans I dreamed of exotic destinations I feared I would never see. But, since I regularly traipse discount airfare websites to dream about faraway places I  accidentally found a great deal on airfare at the end of July, almost exactly $1,000 for a return ticket to Europe. I didn’t put much thought into it and booked the flight a couple of weeks ago with no plans for accomodations etc. I was hoping I could go, but wasn’t sure if I would actually make it. Aside from making an attempt to get time off work I haven’t talked about it here or in real life because still, my plans are uncertain.

With my planned travel date getting a little close for comfort today I took advantage of and booked another few deals while planning out my trip. I’m still not 100% certain that I will be able to follow through because of crazy work obligations, but I’ve made my plans and hopefully come next week I’ll get a chance to see a few new places. Yeah, if you’re wondering how I deal with this type of uncertainty in my life being a type-a, slightly ocd, organized geek… not very well at all! It’s 1:30AM and I can’t sleep! Back to the point though…

It took me years to get to this point of just booking a trip and going, without a buddy a sibling or some sort of travel partner. I’m not sure what has held me back, fear, I think mostly. I tried to plan things with friends but too often they fell through and I felt disappointed because I had truly intended to go. While I would love to be going with someone, I’ve realized that travelling by yourself isn’t a bad thing at all. I am independent by nature, have travelled a bit in my young life already and have survived not one but three immigrations. Surely, I can handle travelling through the Western world by myself.

This will be my first, true, solotrip to foreign countries, one of which I don’t speak or even slightly understand the language. I’ll be hitting four countries; Iceland, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. I speak and understand Dutch fluently (it’s my mother tongue) but french, flemmish and icelandic? I might be able to get a few words out in French but my Icelandic is limited to ‘Takk’ which means thank you. Flemmish just baffles me with all their funny words and soft g’s, though I can understand 75% of it because it is a form of Dutch. I’m sure I’ll be fine but it will be interesting!

As for why I chose these countries: Iceland just happened to be included in the itinerary since IcelandAir allows free stopovers on your way to North-America or Europe. This got me googling Iceland and it turns out it’s a place I would love to experience. From Iceland I move on to Belgium. I chose Belgium because, while I’ve been there passing through, I’ve never really visited as a tourist and I’m curious! I hope to indulge in much chocolate and beer and sights, from my single private room at a central hostel. While booking private rooms as a single person is a little bit more expensive than doing the dorm rooms, I’m making it work in my budget by getting discounts on other things. For example. I ran into a deal (hi-speed.nl) where I was able to book a first class train ticket from anywhere in Belgium to anywhere in the Netherlands for 25EUR (which is a steal for a first class 5 hour train journey!) Woohoo! Which allows me to get from Brussels to the very tip in the North of the Netherlands where my place of birth is and where I have family.

Of course my home, the Netherlands is a given, I will be visiting my grandparents, the primary reason I began thinking of this trip… seeing them before they don’t remember me anymore, as they are getting on in age, the other reason: to see C. and visiting my uncle in my place of birth for a night or two.  Ahh and then the UK where I will be for a couple of days with C. during the official opening of the Olympics. Not that I’ll be attending because I don’t have tickets.. (yet?) but hey. I can say I was there! Land of the red phonebooths and fish and chips has been on my must-see list for as long as I can remember. I can’t wait to go! Legoland awaits!

After that, back through Iceland, I’m thinking of walking around Reykjavik, seeing the sights and perhaps doing a boat tour… and after that back to Halifax, Canada.

Four countries, a few days in each, a few familiar places (Halifax Stanfield Airport is probably too familiar at this point) and a lot of places I’ve never seen. I’m so  excited and I do hope that work doesn’t get in the way and I have to cancel, as of right now… it’s a go. I’ve started nailing down my plans, my family and friends now know, I’ve announced it on the blog! I’m going to do it! One week from now I’ll be working my way to Iceland where I’ll have my first spa experience ever at the Blue Lagoon. (how cool does that place look!??)

At a certain point your dreams and desires overcome your fears and I think that after 26 years on this planet, I’ve finally reached that point (atleast in this regard) So what do you think of travelling solo? Have you ever done it, how long, where did you go! Details details! 

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17 Comments

  1. Sounds like an awesome trip Renée! Congrats for pulling the trigger on your first major solo trip. I should get more adventurous and be willing to travel on my own too. My finances aren't where I want to be able to do that, but I think I'd be able to really enjoy having the freedom to do exactly what I want on a trip. Good luck with work not interfering. It would be a shame for that to get in the way of what should be an amazing experience.

    • Work interference is moderate so far, I had one request for a phonecall so far and I said hells no! The world hasn't gone down in flames yet so I'm sure it was dealt with. :p If you can find a travel buddy that's coll but I really recommend that if you want to see places and can't find someone to go with… just go! Things are so much easier when you are young and free (vs 50 with bad knees)

  2. You are going to be in London on Opening Day? Me too! This trip sounds amazing, especially because it's by the seat of your pants, and solo. I'm a hardcore planner and have also tried to take it a bit easier on the planning this time. Keep us updated!

  3. omg I'm so jealous of you going to Iceland!!

    And I miss the Netherlands <3 love it there! As you already know, I hated Beligum lol.

    I think you will get along fine not knowing the languages. It seems English is spoken everywhere.

    • So far… not sure how I feel about Belgium either! I'm in a great location but in a neighbourhood where allthe coffee houses outside just have foreign men speaking arabic (or whatever it is) drinking coffee from glasses. I stick out like a sore thumb walking down the street in my bright coat and blonde hair. LOL. I don't know if you would like Iceland, I wasn't a fan… it was a great start to getting myself into the feel of travel and slowing myself down after work but Iceland really didn't excite me much! It felt like being in the boonies in Canada, very vast and expansive and beautiful but not very exciting.

  4. I think that sounds like a great trip. If you're comfortable with travelling solo, then by all means! I know that lots of people covet being able to feel ok travelling solo. I'm a very social person so I think I'd get lonely not being able to share it with somebody.

    • I'm very introverted, haven't felt lonely yet, I tend to get overwhelmed in social situations etc. but I'm not afraid to approach people if I need something or want something. I don't mind it, I think now that I'm on the road alone I would prefer to travel with a close friend… but alone is good for thinking and settling the mind.

  5. What fun! I have never traveled solo, except when I was 10 and flew from Florida to California by myself. I think it would be great, I should try to escape my family. ;P

  6. This is going to be awesome!!! I'm so excited for you. I travelled overseas last week for the first time by myself, though I can't imagine what it would be like travelling alone to a place where you don't speak the language.

    • I'm spending a lot of time asking in French if people speak English, I know more french than I let on, especially reading it I can usually get a general idea of whats going on… but they talk so fast I can't catch up so I stick to 'parlez-vous anglais?' Most people try to help out after I make an effort to try their language so it's not bad overall! Islandic though…. :/ yikes what a strange language (now I understand how canadians feel when they hear me speak dutch, it's completely foreign!)

  7. Fantastic!
    I haven't traveled alone in the past much, but plan to going forward. I'll probably try it out with the old people tour groups first though.

    • Old people tourgroups can be a ton of fun! I went on a cruise when I was 18 and it was a total blast, I would absolutely do it again… people tend to think that's for older couples but it can be very nice to just relax, enjoy the ship and not worry about anything. It can also be a great intro to further travel 🙂

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  9. Congratulations, it sounds like a fantastic trip! Oddly enough, Iceland was also my first trip travelling completely solo; fell completely for the culture and geography. You'll have a blast.

    Re: addvodka, solo doesn't mean alone; I'm a big advocate of couchsurfing [removed outdated url February 25, 2014] and seeing places from the perspective of locals.

    • You know, while I enjoyed the time off and was able to start relaxing in Iceland… I didn't like the country a whole lot. It's beautiful, vast… but not a place I would visit to vacation I think.

  10. Looks like a really fun trip! It's always good to get a break from work and explore the outside world.

  11. Sounds like an amazing trip.
    I've yet to travel by my self, yet I've been contemplating for the last few years. I know a handful of people who travel alone all the time, and they say that they are best trips they've ever been on.

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