I recently arrived home from traveling abroad. Yes, it was very exotic and romantic, like every abroad experience must be. Instead of having a hot, steamy fling, traveling solo helped me test the edges of my comfort zone and expand some of my boundaries. I think being a Cultural Care Au Pair would really test me and this might be something I consider doing in the near future.

(Just like at home, my cat distracts me while working so these two cute little puffs took his place to help me feel more at home)

My travels felt neither exotic nor romantic. It felt comfortable, like I was just over visiting my old friend Europe. I actually felt I had walked down the very same streets and talked to the same bartender before. I felt I belonged there, even during the several times I took a wrong turn, missed a train, or couldn’t communicate through the language barrier; I was right where I was supposed to be. Trusting that feeling made my trip an opportunity to grow instead of a week of anxiety and self doubt. A friend was telling me how great it was that he got a motorhome to travel alone in. He was able to afford it thanks to Auto Finance Online.

Trusting the Universe

AirBnB is my preferred lodging when traveling. Every AirBnB host I stayed with offered completely different experience that happened to be exactly what I needed during my stay. A beautiful young couple hosted me in Brussels, opening their home, sharing the cuteness of their kitties and including me in their weekend plans, truly set a wonderful tone for the beginning of the week.

( If you’re looking for your next business venture, start a waffle truck, you will be rich just from my patronage )

Frankfurt opened up the opportunity to befriend a lovely art teacher who shared her intricately creative apartment with me and led me to the best schnitzel and apfelwein I could ever imagine enjoying. She taught me all about the history of Frankfurt, told me about the popularity of frankfurt escorts, and showed me the best sights Frankfurt has to offer.

Two Tubingen college students rented me a room in their home and gave me a perfect recommendation for some Chinese take out, and let me enjoy my evening resting and preparing for my last day.

My last night in Europe was spent in Paris with a cheerful designer, who helped me buy my last train ticket that got me to my plane the next morning.

Every person that opened their home to me were so different for one another while also maintaining the same friendly level of care and welcoming spirit towards me from the moment I stepped in their home. I had met none of them before hand, and out of the many places I could have chosen to stay, I was guided to each of these people and each home was exactly what I needed at that point in my jounrey.

(Sweet Eva in Frankfurt laid out this cozy breakfast for me while staying with her)

Keeping My Shit Together When Traveling Solo

I am a notorious laugher and crier.

Happy, laugh until I cry. Sad, cry until I laugh. The emotion doesn’t matter, if it is intense, there is a laugh/cry combo ready to be employed.

I was super proud of myself, which yes, brought a tear of joy to my eye, on this trip because I didn’t cry once. Like really cry. I got teary eyed a few times but I mean come on, have you eaten a real Parisian pain au chocolate pastry before? They are tear worthy, trust me.

But on the last day I was in Germany, my goal was to successfully explore Burg Hohenzollern and make all of the trains lined up to take me back to Paris for my flight the next morning. And all was going according to plan…until step two in my seven steps of travel for the day. The shuttle the internet told me would be at the train station to take me to the castle. A shuttle that didn’t exist…So I decided to walk, it was only 4.1 miles away, and I had been averaging 10-13 miles of walking a day so not a big deal. Until, two miles in, Siri instructed me to walk on the expressway for 0.9 miles.

( The castle from the taxi )

I could feel myself getting warm, not from the vigorous walk, mostly uphill, with my 50 lbs worth of luggage on my back and slung across my shoulder, but the warmth that comes from realizing I’ve made a big mistake and now I have just over two hours until my train.

Nobody Panic…

Back to the internet, even though she had burned me earlier that morning, to find a taxi. I called 5 places. I don’t speak German and was wonderfully unsuccessful at pronouncing the German crossroads to help the taxi driver find me. My face started getting warmer, realizing that I might have just wasted my last day in Europe.

I started walking back toward the train station, holding back the hot tears blurring my eyes, frustrated with myself. And then I felt my my brother with me and imagined the goofy, reassuring smile he would have on his face to respond to my bubbling up tears.

“Well,” I could hear him saying, “are you going give up and go wait at the train station or are you gonna get to that castle?”

“I’m going to get to that castle.” I thought back to him, taking a deep breath to absorb my waiting tears. And then remembered passing a sign a mile back, outside of a business, for a taxi service.

I sped walked the mile back and dialed the number as soon as I could make the sign out and I was luckily next to a restaurant with an English name that the receptionist understood and the taxi arrived in seconds to whisk me away.

And I made it to that castle.

Embracing Independence Fully

There are many different styles of independence and most are gushed over being a characteristic that is to be desired and sought after. Being my independent self has always been a source of pride for me looking back at all the glorious things I had accomplished all by myself. Until I traveled in another country completely alone, I didn’t realize what it truly meant to be as independent as I thought I was. Travelling alone forces you to think with complete autonomy over your decisions. When I travel with friends I normally let them sort out flights, hotels and look at the travel vaccination advice for wherever we are going. This time it was all up to me!

Back home, I am only semi-independent. I lean on my friends and family daily for support, encouragement and community. But discovering little strengths I have in my independence was extremely fulfilling and made me so extremely grateful that I don’t have to live my whole life this independently.

Out of all the meals I ate aboard, only one wasn’t solo. And the only adventure not alone was a vivacious visit to the local outdoor market with Josefien, the beautiful Belgian I stayed with. Every beautiful building, breathtaking architecture, or perfect bit of countryside I viewed alone. Every experience I encountered was all mine, and it was incredibly satisfying, empowering and intimate.

No only do I have a new standard of what I am capable of completing, I appreciate my network of love and support back home.

What is going to help you grow?

Traveling isn’t for everybody, but growing and finding your edge is. How can you help yourself grow? How can you test your boundaries and challenge your edge?

Let us know what you think and how you plan to help yourself grow!

( I ate a lot of waffles in Brussels )