eilean donan
American Abroad Travel

The Realities of Solo Traveling

February 1, 2020

I’m finally in Scotland. Alone. And let me just say, traveling alone is hard. Being and living alone in a foreign country is hard.

I wish this wasn’t the first post I was publishing about my trip, but it’s the first one that has come together coherently in my head. So… before Edinburgh and the Highlands, we have the harsh realities of solo traveling.

And I don’t mean the logistics of solo traveling — navigating by yourself and figuring things out without help. Those things aren’t always easy, but that isn’t what I’ve found hard about solo traveling.

In fact, I haven’t even been completely alone while here. My parents were here for the first two weeks, and I have about two weeks left on my own. But even with them here, there has still been plenty of time spent alone in my Air Bnb, riding the bus, and being trapped in my head.

Traveling alone in the hopes of escaping some of your problems, especially concerning mental health, isn’t realistic. The Eat, Pray, Love lifestyle sounds like an ideal fantasy, but that’s mostly what it is – a fantasy. Everything that you struggle with at home follows you across the world.

No matter where you go, YOU come along for the ride. You pack your anxieties and sadness along with your toothbrush and coat. I don’t think I fully realized this before leaving.

A year ago, I probably would’ve flourished traveling alone. But after the last year and few months, traveling alone is more difficult than I anticipated. The realities of solo traveling have me wishing I could just flip a switch to turn my brain off.

Being away from home has made my anxiety worse. Solo traveling in another country forces you to face yourself and everything going on in your mind. It’s terribly easy to get stuck in your head. And I’ve found at times that I’m not enjoying things I know I should be enjoying as much as I want to enjoy them.

I love Scotland. I love every place I’ve visited so far. But I’d be lying if I only wrote about the beautiful ruined cathedrals and ethereal views of the highlands (which are coming soon).

This trip has been hard on me so far. And maybe that’s a good thing. It’s a learning experience, and maybe I’m stronger for it. But after the year I just had, I don’t know if I was strong enough to take it on right away.

I look back at my life a year ago verses my life now, and it’s unrecognizable. Embracing that change isn’t easy.

It’s made me realize that as much as I love traveling, solo traveling isn’t for escaping your problems. They will follow you, and may even get worse, no matter where you are.

But I promise it isn’t all sad and difficult… my trip has also been full of beautiful views, lots of flake bars, and tea time.

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