I was 21, fresh out of a destructive relationship and going to school full-time when fate stepped in. I was one of those people who told everyone that I loved travel, but until that point, I’d only really gone away with my parents and of those trips had only left North America once. It wasn’t my fault — all my friends were either not into travel or too into their boyfriends to make it priority. And I didn’t want to go alone.
I don’t know what made me stop to read the generic poster on the wall that snowy day when I was embedded in
studying procrastination, but I did. Good Times! Student Tour Around the Greek Islands, or something to that effect, it read. The info session was set to start in 20 minutes. I grabbed my books and headed in there. Within a week, I signed up an paid for a 4-week trip with a bunch of strangers.
What followed was a month of wicked fun that was mostly memorable, except when too many shots of ouzo blurred the lines of recognition. Our group was made up of 26 twenty-somethings and two surfer-dude guides who were rarely guiding except when it came time to catch the ferry. We had a wicked time together — full of drinking and dancing and endless side-splitting laughter — and though I keep in touch with few of my travel mates, our time together won’t soon be forgotten.
My point is this: For me, this trip was the perfect foray into the world of solo travelling. I gained confidence, and I gained a love of travelling, all without having to worry about eating alone or being chained to people’s expectations of me at home. You see, travelling with a group of strangers is ideal — you’re independent, but still not entirely on your own. I learned a lot about travelling in those four weeks, and I learned a lot about myself. I learned that when necessary, I can navigate the curvy streets of a foreign land and make the bus on time. I learned that I can get along with anyone. I learned that I can budget. I learned to break out of my comfort zone, and I learned how rewarding that can be. In short? I realized that I am a traveller, not just one of those people who claims to be one.