As I write this, I am sipping a vin blanc outside a Parisian bistro on a lazy July day. The only reason I am here is because when I left Barcelona two months ago after wrapping up my first solo trip abroad, I was wracked with anxiety and struck by the realization that I simply had to continue traveling during my lifetime. And for several reasons. After five weeks back home, I sold my car, saved up some money, and booked another flight back to Spain. And now my office is in every café in Paris.
Prior to my first traveling expedition, I armed myself with as much knowledge as I could regarding tips and tricks for solo traveling. But no one warned me of what would happen after my time abroad. I figured I would clue you in on a few things you will experience post trip.
It’s a real thing. You will miss terribly the people you knew only for a brief moment in your life, but who profoundly impacted it. You will simultaneously be restless and lethargic. Your body will be exhausted, but your mind will be spinning and unsettled. You won’t know what to do with yourself. You will find it difficult to acclimate to the world you grew up in; a world that not long ago was the only one you ever really knew. Now this home is a stranger to you and you feel unwelcomed, lost, and out of place. The place you called home for so long is no longer your home. The world is your home.
You Will Annoy the Crap Out of Your Friends and Also Make Very Special Friends
After you travel, you will want to tell everyone about it. You will want them to enjoy the wealth of knowledge you have obtained the way you enjoy it. You want them too to marvel at the wonders of the world and the delightfully diverse people. And to friends who have never stepped out of their own comfort zone, you will be quite a nuisance. You will learn it is better to shut up and only tell of your adventures to those who share your affinity for travel. You will bond with those people and hope to keep them in your life forever.
A Newfound Sense of Responsibility
You realize how little you know and that you will never be able to cease your education. You feel a greater responsibility to discover the different ways people live. You will want to be as knowledgeable as you can on their history and customs and political situations. If you already had a desire to immerse yourself in new cultures and languages that desire will only be strengthened.
A Greater Urge to Travel Your Own Country
Most people who plan their first solo trips do it in a foreign country. But afterward you will recognize (if you haven’t already done this) that you have left a great deal of your own country unexplored. You will yearn to visit all those places that were essentially in your own backyard.
A Better View of Life’s Big Picture
You recognize how precious and fleeting life is. You will have a very difficult time swallowing the idea of “settling down” and “getting a real job” that shackles you to a desk from 9-5 in a tiny cubicle and subjects you to a way of living you don’t even enjoy. You will be astounded at how easily so many people will accept that traveling is only for wealthy brats who have mommy and daddy’s credit card or for the retired. Your heart will break at seeing people accept that travel is simply not practical or purposeful. You will understand how greatly travel will shape you as a person and continuously strengthen you. And that is why you will continue to do it.
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