The most exciting trips are the ones that make you nervous

Note: This post was written in 2017 the night before I left on my first solo backpacking trip.

Tonight is my last night in Canada before leaving for Europe tomorrow. As I write, I’m sitting in bed with my cat beside me for what will be the last time in the five weeks to come.

Anyone who tells you they aren’t at least a little anxious the night before leaving on a trip is either lying or they haven’t planned a very exciting trip. Traveling is about jumping into the unknown and going beyond your comfort zone; it’s about discovering a completely new place and learning a bit about yourself in the process. This is what, in my opinion, separates “traveling” from “vacation.”

So first and foremost, I’m excited. I’m excited to be exploring Copenhagen and Amsterdam in such depth after hearing so many wonderful things about both cities. I’m excited for the hiking I’ll be doing throughout Switzerland, especially around Interlaken and Zermatt. And I’m looking forward to taking it easy in northern Italy before coming back to reality.

But I’m nervous about doing all of this solo. I’m sure I’ll meet great people in hostels and maybe we’ll do some excursions together during the day, as most people who travel Europe will do. At some point, however, people always part ways. Maybe they’re going north to Zurich, while you’re heading south to Barcelona, or they’re nearing the end of their trip whereas you’ve just begun yours. So it’s the time in the middle, the travel time between places, that gets me anxious. It’s sitting in the airport of a country whose language I can’t even begin to understand (I’m looking at you Denmark – Google translate has only been so helpful at deciphering your emails).  Or it’s wandering around a train terminal with a slight air of panic as I try to locate my platform (another situation where my difficulties at learning new languages serves me especially well). And sometimes it’ll just be the idle time in transit where I’ll have a little too much time to be alone with my thoughts (these are the moments our brain decides to replay every embarrassment and failure we’ve ever experienced, right?)

This is my challenge though. I’ll be landing in Europe somewhat anxious, but when I leave I’m going to be better at being on my own. I don’t know how that’s going to happen or what it’ll look like when it’s happened, but I’m sure something will come out of all of this.

Plan your trips such that the night before your departure you lie in bed excited by the adventures to come, but still a little nervous about how you’re actually going to make them happen. This holds true whether it’s a solo canoe trip over the long weekend, or it’s leaving home for a year long trip round the world.

I’ll be posting updates throughout my trip: a few of the typical travel blogger type (expect minimal food shots and relatively few museum recommendations), but many about the outdoorsy-adventurey things there are to do throughout Europe and the realities of living out of a backpack in a foreign country (especially as a solo female).

Stayed tuned!

Note: I don’t have any photos of Copenhagen or Amsterdam or Switzerland since I am clearly not there yet, so please enjoy this photo I took last May (I think it’s obviously the Eiffel Tower from an underrated angle, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t seem to see that out of context).

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