Traveling alone; yay or nay?
I must have been early twenties when I went on a trip all by myself. My sister had done a volunteer trip in the UK and she came back so enthusiastic that I had signed up before I really thought about it. As is usually the case with me. The trip was booked through the volunteer agency which was called ‘Wings over…. something’. I can’t fully recall the name and can’t find it anymore either. We are talking 30 years ago after all. They might not exist anymore.
The trip itself was long and rather uncomfortable. Remember this was pre-mobile phone so if you went away, you were really cut of from the world. Upon arrival – after having travelled for about 36 hours by bus, boat, train and on foot – I had to find a phone booth to call the agency to come and pick me up.
The concept of the agency was that handicapped people could come and vacation in their houses for about two weeks. Each disabled person would be helped by a volunteer. The volunteers came from all over Europe and most did not have a background in medical care. The location was a gorgeous old villa in the tiny town of South Nutfield.
I thought my English was fairly good. But I was the only Dutch speaking person there among mostly English, a few German girls, two French guys, a girl from Malta and someone from Israel.
Sadly non of those people spoke ‘school’ English. They either had a heavy Cockney accent or Scottish or some other undefinable accent I wasn’t used to. The first couple of hours I felt like they put me in Russia, without any knowledge of the language.
French romance in England
That night I almost cried myself to sleep. I wanted to take the first boat back home. I felt miserable and alone…
Only one day later that situation had completely reversed itself… It turned out I did speak the language after all (you quickly get used to certain accents if you have no other choice!) and I had the time of my life, had a romance with one of the French guys and thoroughly enjoyed those two weeks in England.
The years following that first trip I did go away on my own on many occasions and it was never as exciting as that very first trip… And still: it can be weird arriving in a new country on your own. If you speak the language it is easier but if not that poses a bit of a problem if no one speaks English either.
Do you like to travel alone?
Of course there are plenty of people that love to travel alone and wouldn’t want it any other way. Me, personally, I find that I enjoy things more if I have someone to share it with. So I love to travel with Tom or with a friend. Not because I’m scared to go alone, but just because I like to have someone to go out for dinner (nothing worse than eating on your own I think) and someone to share the events of the day.
What do you prefer? Alone or together?
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