When I tell people I traveled solo for ten weeks across the world, I get mixed reactions. For the most part, people are excited and intrigued. Others assume that I am a lost soul, searching for my calling in life. There are also people that don't seem to understand at all, but are polite about it.
Travel has been a huge part of my life, ever since I was a young child. My father was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States when he was just a child. Every five years or so, we go to Italy to visit his extended family and learn more about our heritage. I even chose to study abroad in Rome so I could see more of Italy and Europe. That semester of travel was a dream for me.
When I was a sophomore in college, a friend invited me along to Ghana to volunteer at an orphanage. Without even thinking, I said yes — much to my parents' dismay at the time! And it was one of the most memorable and life-changing trips of my life. They say when you volunteer in another country, the people change you more than you change them. I could not agree more.
When I told my parents I wanted to travel solo abroad, they weren't surprised. I casually told my mom over dinner and she went silent, but she slowly warmed up to the idea. I was so nervous to tell my dad. I ended up telling him on one of our walks and — to my surprise — his response was, "You should look into around the world plane tickets." I was shocked and very relieved. When I ask my dad about this in retrospect, he told me that as much as he disliked the idea of me being alone on the other side of the world, he knows how determined and independent I am.
I have been dreaming about traveling the world ever since returning from studying abroad in Europe. I been blessed to have traveled to Iceland and South Africa on vacation since then, but I could not get this one image out of my head. For the last two years, I have had a vision of myself traveling solo on the other side of world. I knew that this was not some fantasy, but a trip of a lifetime that I would forever regret if I did not seize the opportunity while I was young and only responsible for myself. A few days before I made the final decision to go on this solo trip, I was given a mug with a rather ironic quote on it:
I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done. - Lucille Ball
Life is too short to "want" things that you already have the abilities to achieve. Knowing this, I bought my plane ticket to Hawaii and came up with a budget that felt comfortable for me. And the rest is history.
I travel because there is so much beauty in the world. I want to see mountain ranges that look like painted backdrops, meet people that speak a completely different language, and try food that I have no idea what the ingredients are.
I traveled solo across the world for ten weeks because a one to two week vacation was not enough time for me. Vacations are vital for humans and our happiness, but long-term travel is a whole other ball game. Long-term solo travel is about exploration and independence. I challenged myself to go outside my comfort zone and the rewards were beyond my expectations. I saw nature and beauty that filled my heart to the brim. I meant people that changed the way I think about others. I conquered fears that I previously dismissed as crazy. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I could have ever imagined.
So my question to you is, what have you always wanted to do but are too afraid to do it?
I hope that when you look back on your life, you know you lived your life to the fullest. I hope you go after your dreams and conquer your fears. After all, life is too short to live with regrets.
I want everyone to know that my travels were incredible, but they were not all rainbows and butterflies. Traveling is mostly beautiful and freeing, but it can also be difficult, frustrating, lonely, and exhausting. My goal with sharing the positive parts of travel is to inspire you to take a leap of faith and go outside your comfort zone. Buy that plane ticket you’ve been eyeing. Visit that country you’ve been dreaming about since you were a child. No one to go with? I challenge you to do it by yourself. If you’re open to it, you’ll meet people along the way. Life’s too short to hide behind fear.
However, in honor of transparency, I would like to share the not-so-glamorous parts of travel that you don’t often see on social media:
But that’s life — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Travel is what you make out of it. If you have a positive attitude, these moments aren’t worth sharing. They’re merely just a product of life. On the contrary, here are the parts of traveling that you also don’t see on social media, but are simply beautiful:
Before my trip, my friend shared with me a quote from the late Anthony Bourdain that resonates with me more now than ever. I will leave you with his beautiful words:
"Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind." -- Anthony Bourdain
When In Rome
Two of my most cherished hobbies go hand-in-hand. Writing is my favorite way to reflect after traveling to a new country. I have kept this blog ever since I studied in Rome to share my travels with families and friends. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences and getting a sense for my writing skills. If you have any questions, please reach out!