If you had told me 10 years ago that I would travel alone around the world, I wouldn’t have believed you. That’s because I’m a social person. If you’ve met me, you’ll know, first hand, that I like to talk, and I love being in the company of others. As far as I was concerned, I couldn’t possibly travel on my own because it was a social thing. I’d never travelled on my own, and I didn’t see the point of it. The thing is, when you have no one to go with, you have 3 choices:
- Wait until someone can go with you.
- Don’t go on holiday.
- Go it alone, whether it’s an organised trip or independent travel.
I went with option three. As I’ve mentioned before, it was a very big deal. It was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. There was a lot of uncertainty and fear, but I did it. I’m so glad I did.
Apart from having an amazing time and seeing so many places in a relatively short period of time (a year), I met some amazing people and that trip had a much bigger impact on me and my life than I could ever have expected. Naively, I thought I would travel and then go back to ‘normal life’, whatever that is. I did, sort of, but things had changed. I had changed.
Since then, travel has remained a big part of my life, even with a full-time job. I go somewhere most weekends and during my holidays. Over the past year, I have been trying out different ways of travelling. At the moment, I am preparing for my biggest travel challenge since I travelled solo for the first time 8 years ago. This time, I’m going on a solo camping holiday to Iceland. I have always loved camping, but I had never been on a solo camping trip. In fact, I had never considered it because I thought of it as a social activity. I had to rethink that, though, when I booked a one-way plane ticket to Iceland, on a whim.
Perhaps I should explain. I needed to take some holiday in August. While I was looking at flights to different places, I remembered my mum had mentioned Iceland to me when I spoke to her over the phone one day. I found a flight that was well-priced, so I booked it without thinking. It’s a country that has been on my ‘bucket list’ for years, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. That was until I started looking at accommodation. Boy, did I get a shock! As I looked, I was beginning to regret booking the ticket. I knew it would be expensive. I just didn’t realise it would be that expensive. It was time to start thinking laterally and find alternatives. I had booked my plane ticket, so I had to make it work. Even a bed in a dorm was pricey due to the time of year. I really didn’t fancy sharing a room, and I had no intention of paying through the nose for the privilege. That’s when I thought about camping.
I had a tent gathering dust in my parents’ loft, as well as a self-inflating mat, and I bought a warm, compact sleeping bag. At least, I would have a bedroom, of sorts, to myself. I really didn’t want to share. I suppose it was that and the cost which helped me get over the issue I had about camping solo.
Knowing that I would be spending 2 weeks camping in Iceland, by myself, with no one else to rely on, I had to get used to it and fast! So, over the past few weeks, I have been preparing for my trip. Just like the trial run I did when I started thinking of travelling around the world on my own, I have been doing something similar to prepare for my forthcoming trip. Every weekend, I have gone camping somewhere to test out my equipment to work out what I need, and to see what I can and can’t take with me.
Thankfully, this trip to Iceland has helped me to get over the belief I had about camping being a social thing. That’s the problem with these stories we tell ourselves. They aren’t true, and they stop us from doing things. The great thing is, I have realised that I love camping whether I’m with others or on my own. Not only will it make my trip to Iceland more affordable, it will be more interesting, and it gives me more freedom and flexibility because I won’t have to book accommodation in advance. I will be able to turn up, pay, and set up my tent. This takes travel to another level for me, which is liberating.
My trip to Iceland will certainly be a challenge. I will be camping solo, travelling around without the luxury of a car, and I will be carrying my kitchen, accommodation, and wardrobe on my back. That makes it my biggest travel challenge in years. I am looking forward to the trip, although I am a little apprehensive because it’s a different way of travelling solo for me. Will I camp for the whole time, or will I stay for a night or two in a guesthouse, hostel, or hotel? We’ll see.
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What has been your biggest travel challenge?