After having had my life turned upside down and my heart shattered back in January, I found myself a few months down the road worth of quoting Sound of Silence to the extent that my co-workers now mainly greeted me in the morning with “Hello darkness”, I decided, by the end of March, that it was time for a change in my life.
I found my life had, without my consent, changed dramatically from me being in a long time-relationship, living in Australia and having a blast to being single and heartbroken, scraping through the daily grind of life in the grey and cold abyss that Oslo in winter sometimes feels like. I had watched all the stupid comedies at Netflix, read about 10 books, had to cut down on my wine expenses and started going to the gym. But it was not enough. I needed a challenge, something to take my mind off my self pitying, something to invest my time into and get excited about.
One day, a friend of mine from back in Australia added me to this amazing group on Facebook, GLT – Girls Love Travel, a group consisting of more than 560.000 girls from all over the world with one great passion in common; travel. Some of them traveled with their friends, with their husbands, their wives, their kids, their dogs… but what really caught my eye was – a lot of them traveled alone. And I thought to myself: I love travel. I want to travel! Could I also travel alone?
A lot of my grieving from since becoming single had been just this – I had always wanted to travel, to explore, to see the world, and with a lot of my friends caught up in their own lives, be it with love, studies or rigid work schemes, it seemed to me all my adventure plans would now only remain a dream. Except maybe not?
So, I’m Norwegian, right. And we Norwegians, we’re apparently a bit of a weird kind of people. We’re a bit shy, we definitely don’t want to feel like we bother others, and we might come off as “cold” or “distant” or even “reserved”. An to me, the idea of me packing a suitcase, going to the airport, traveling by a plane to somewhere else and then finding myself spending x amount of days alone, without anyone I knew nearby, relying only on myself or strangers, seemed both amazingly intriguing and terrifying.
I read a bunch of solo travel-posts in the group. I got inspired. I saw girls in every shape, age and from everywhere around the world visiting places I sometimes hardly had even heard about before, and I thought “This is it! I have to try!”. And so I decided to try – as simple as that.
To get somewhat of an idea for myself what I wanted, and what I needed out of this trip, I made up a list with a few criterias:
- I wanted this first trip to be a long weekend (Thursday morning to Sunday night), so that in case I was utterly miserable and/or bored, I knew it would not be too long until I could mope around alone back in the safety of my apartment. It also meant I would not “have to” travel too far away for this first attempt at solo traveling.
- I wanted to go somewhere I knew the language. Both in case of an emergency, and just to take some off the stress off for me with regards to if I found myself lost and in need of reaching out to someone.
- I wanted to go to a place where I could both have the chance of meeting people, keeping myself busy, and also be able to have some time just for myself, to focus on myself only and allowing myself to be a bit spontaneous.
- I wanted to live at a hostel. This because it would mean there would be bars/common rooms I could go to if I wanted to see people, and also that I could not just stay in my room isolating myself.
- I had to go somewhere I did not know too many people, as a huge purpose of this trip was to travel solo and challenge myself. I know some of my friends questioned why I decided to travel alone when I could have easily visited them, or asked them to go with me – but the solo experience of it was something that seemed important to me.
After making up this list, and also gathering together a list of places I considered nice for a short trip like this, I quickly decided to go for London. I got tonnes of recommendations from both co-workers, the girls in GLT, friends and family, and TripAdvisor, and so I booked my trip on Tuesday, with departure early Thursday morning, leaving just enough time to make out a rough plan and pack my suitcase, yet avoiding giving myself enough time to chicken out.
And so it was that I the following Thursday morning, at 5am, found myself waiting for the bus to the airport, shivering both of cold and excitement, feeling both a bit scared and small, but also with a beating heart feeling stronger and prouder than in a long time. Read about my first solo trip here.