For the better part of my life, everything was taken care of for me: my lunches were packed every day, my clothes were washed, folded and put away, I had very few chores, and I never needed to worry about money. I got to travel to places like New York City, Disney World, and Las Vegas, without ever having to consider the amount of hard work that went into planning and financing a family vacation. Looking back, I realize how much I took for granted in my early life.
In the summer of 2015, I was going through some big life changes. I was seeing no progress in my acting career, I was working insane hours at a restaurant downtown, I hated my job, my best friend had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, I missed my family… it was starting to weigh down on me.
On a whim, I decided it was time for a break! I had saved a bunch of money from my serving gig, so I quit my job, I went online, and booked a return flight to Europe. Four weeks. Four countries. Six cities. One backpack. No plan, just go!
Okay, I’ll admit… I had done a bit of research prior to leaving. I knew that I was traveling in peak season and that it would be far more expensive this way, but I didn’t care. I knew I was landing Croatia, and returning home from the Czech Republic, but I had no clue how I was going to get from point a to point b. I had spent so much energy overthinking every minute detail of my life, that I didn’t really care about planning the trip. I just wanted to get away from everything that was holding me back and weighing me down.
The day before the trip, I was a nervous wreck! It had finally dawned on me, for the first time in my life, I was going to be completely alone. No one to hold my hand, and no one to lean on in times of need. The only person I’d be able to depend on was myself. It was intimidating. But, I knew it was time to challenge myself in new ways.
My biggest challenges included navigation, and meeting new people. I feared I would be perpetually lost and completely alone on my journey. Somehow, I always made it to my destination, and I managed to make some incredible friendships along the way!
Everything I thought to be true about myself was turning out to be fabricated. I was my own worst enemy, a self-saboteur. All it took was a little courage, and suddenly, my whole concept of who I was had been altered. It finally made sense. We have power over our thoughts, and it’s up to us to use that power to for better or worse. I was starting to feel like my old self again!
Of course, there were bumps along the way, mainly one catastrophic event that would leave me without money for nearly 48 hours. Everything they say about pickpocketing is, in fact, true. So if there’s any piece of advice I can give you, it’s to always wear a money belt! Don’t get too comfortable! And keep a backup credit card locked in your room at all times!
But in the grand scheme of things, getting robbed, was the least of my worries! Traveling solo forced me to come face to face with my own demons. There were some hard pills to swallow on that trip. I realized I was depending way too heavily on other people to solve my problems. I realized that I wasn’t living up to my full potential. I had let my thoughts take control of me, those thoughts convinced me that I wasn’t strong, I wasn’t brave, I wasn’t enough. Being forced to face the world on my own allowed me to realize that I was all of those things. I had the strength and the power to do anything I set my mind to. I had given power to my thoughts for far too long, and finally, I was able to regain control of my life.
For anyone who thinks that travel is just some excuse to escape from reality, I’m here to tell you, it’s not! Travelling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! I thought I was running away from my problems, but in reality, I was forced to face them head-on. In those moments of complete solitude, I had to think about all of the things that were waiting for me back home… the shitty job, the sick friend, the lack of control. I finally understood the saying “You can run, but you can’t hide”. Solo travel helped me evolve, it shaped me into the man I am today. I encourage everyone to take an adventure like this some day. Discover what you’re capable of! Perhaps you feel like you’ve lost control, are you ready to take it back? ❤