Amber (22) has been fascinated by America since childhood. After studying journalism at PXL in Hasselt, she didn’t want to work right away, so she went for it: a solo trip for five weeks the first time. She took flights, trains and rented a car to explore the east and west sides of America.
A trip to America was at the top of Ambley’s bucket list. Although the challenge also raised many questions, she dreamed of taking on the adventure alone. Wouldn’t it be lonely or scary? What if something goes wrong? What if you don’t meet anyone along the way? She decided to take a chance Went to America for five weeks.
‘The first couple of weeks were really hard, you’re on your own and it’s huge. Especially when my friends call me from home, I get very emotional. I thought I couldn’t hold on and come home, but once you’re there, you’re the only one who can come back. You have to change to a new mindset of ‘I’m going to do this, I can do this.’
‘Once I realized that my journey was Once in a lifetime-The experience was that time suddenly seemed to go by so fast. Then you will know How important it is to enjoy every moment and grab every opportunity with both hands.
I am more independent now and enjoy the time I spend with myself more.
‘I was proud of myself after the trip: I had shown myself that I could do it alone, go to restaurants alone, drive alone, and just get to know people. I am more independent now and enjoy the time I spend with myself more. I figured it out before the trip Clumsy To be alone, now I shamelessly go out alone.
Make friends and sleep safe
‘During my travels I mainly stayed in hostels. They are very inexpensive and a great way to meet other travelers. Along the way I met a lot of people I clicked with, but not as many as I would have liked. This is a great pity, because many people in America approach you spontaneously When you travel alone. At first it was strange, because that’s not the case in Belgium, but it’s the most normal thing in the world. But it was also hard to find someone who was doing the same thing as you and wasn’t 100% sure of his/her/their way.
“I was supposed to stay in Monterey for one night. However, there were no inns, so I had to look for a motel. I called all the hotels in the area but the prices to stay there were beyond my budget. Conclusion: It was half past five in the evening and still no place to sleep.
‘I thought for a moment about sleeping in my car that night, but that was fine too Tricky and strongly encouraged in that region. Eventually I found a motel where I could spend the night for 150 euros, although I felt safe there. It reminded me of typical American movies where shady types meet in old, abandoned motels. After a restless night at the motel, I made sure I didn’t have to look for a place to sleep that day.‘
Out of my comfort zone
When I was in Yosemite, I found an inn middle, Somewhere in the mountains. On the one hand it was a beautiful place because the hostel all had different huts in the forest. But on the other hand, getting there is not entirely easy. Although it was not yet late, it was already dark on the trail. Plus, the route to the motel was a giant slalom between hills. Suddenly fear struck: I was alone in the car, in the dark, on a deserted road. What if something happens? What if I have car trouble? Fortunately I stayed calm and reached my destination without any problems.’
Suddenly fear struck: I was alone in the car, in the dark, on a deserted road.
‘But soon fear hit me again. When I arrived at the hostel, it turned out that I had to spend the night in a room with ten other men. I was the only one in the hostel, and the huts were scattered in the forest so the welcome was far from over. I felt unsafe and was so scared that I went back to the car and called my mom and cried.
‘After a long talk with my mother, I decided to go into the room and talk to some men. There were two German guys around my age who clicked immediately, which was a relief to me. As soon as they told me what they had already seen, all fear vanished and I realized that they, like me, were traveling alone. The next day we decided to climb a nearby mountain together. Looking back now, I’m glad I took steps to address them.’
I was so scared that I went back to the car and called my mom and cried.
‘Even though it was nice to meet the people there and do things together, I never regretted for a second traveling alone. I learned something valuable about myself: I can stand on my own two feet, I don’t need anyone else. Travel really gave me time to love. But find out who I am in life, what I like, what I want and what I don’t want. I really recommend it to everyone, because as cliché as it sounds: you really see yourself.’
I had time to love myself on my solo journey.
‘Thankfully, the fear I experienced there didn’t stop me from doing it again. Because really I’m jumping to go on a solo trip again. I want to discover not only the world, but also myself.
‘My New Year’s resolutions for my next solo trip? Plan a little more ahead, let go if things don’t go my way, and be open to meeting people. There are ups and downs anyway, that’s how life works. I’m ready to face it!’
Text: Lynn Hoogwein, student at PXL University of Applied Sciences.
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