I’m sitting in Starbucks at the Madrid airport with an iced coffee, a water bottle, an empty package of almonds, and my carry-on luggage. Typical airport scene. It’s 8:30 am in Spain (1:30 am in Texas and my body clock) and I have been up for almost 24 hours besides small plane naps and I swear I am slightly hallucinatory.
My flight itinerary was a bit of a risk seeing as it was pretty unrealistic. I left DFW --> Boston --> Madrid --> A Coruna. However, I only had a 1-hour layover for both connections which is never enough for international flights so don’t ever do that. It involved a lot of
panicking running through airports. I haven’t even made it to A Coruna yet due to a flight delay so now I’m in the Madrid airport waiting for my next flight with a 4 hour wait.
Not too bad, really, but I have no WiFi and WOW it’s so hard to be disconnected to everything when I can’t tell my family I made it to the airport or tell my host mom what’s going on. Millennial probz.
Maria, my host mom, was supposed to meet me at the airport and take me home before she went to work but I have not been able to tell her that I'm way off schedule. Here’s to hoping that she and my family aren’t freaking out!
How would you feel if you were in a foreign country, alone, with no WiFi and people were depending on communication with you?
I’m also sitting here and seeing people everywhere connected to their devices so I’m a little confused and annoyed that my phone refuses to work on the WiFi. But now I’m here writing this blog so I guess time is not wasted, right?
Why am I going on a solo trip?
No one else could go. Point blank. Just kidding but also if you plan to travel in your life then you have to accept this.
Let me answer HOW I came across this opportunity first. In September I entered a Busabout competition via Instagram that offered a 6-stop flexi pass for free to whoever won. The winner had to have the most votes on a chosen photo entered into the competition. Yours truly won because
I'm awesome I have an army of friends and family across the nation and in Europe who incessantly voted for me. It was an amazing moment.
I do not think I have ever been more obsessed with anything than working my tired little butt off getting people to vote.
I barely slept and I think I may have temporarily damaged my eyes staring at LCD screens for so long.
It was a 2-week process so by the time I found out that I won I felt a little numb, drained, and amazed. I immediately called my mom and started balling like a baby when I said “I’m going to Europe!” I had from September until now to adjust to the fact that I’m going on a solo trip.
When am I going?
The Busabout trip can last from May 1st to October 31st so I bought a plane ticket for May 4th to October 4th. I decided that I might as well use as much time as I could in Europe and make a huge experience of it.
How am I affording and planning this?
In December I graduated college with a fine art degree, turned 25, and enjoyed Christmas break. Between these 3 events, I received a lot of cash from family so I put it in an envelope and did not spend it. In January I moved to New Jersey to live with my older sister and her husband. They live an hour from NYC so I traveled there every week. I did not pay rent while living there and every week I cleaned their house for a pretty payment. I saved a lot of money this way.
In April I came back to Texas and booked as many photography shoots as I could find and made a little over $1000. I also cleaned houses and sold clothes at Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor. I barely spent money on alcohol or food (priorities right?) and I kept pushing money to my savings account.
I left Texas today with $4,838 in my name but I have about $400 on my credit card I still have to pay off. So while that’s a lot of money saved it’s simply not enough for 5 months abroad in Europe.
"AT FIRST, IT’S KIND OF LIKE THAT UNPREPARED DREAM WHERE YOU SHOW UP NAKED TO CLASS"
What is my solution?
I found a program where I am living with a family in Spain. My job is to speak English with 3 kiddos every weekday so they can keep their skills sharp while out of school in the summer. The family will feed me and treat me as their own family member. I even have my own room and a king size bed! This exchange program is saving me because I am staying with this family for 2 ½ months. That’s a lot of money saved compared to paying for a hostel every night and buying 3 meals a day.
I also am tutoring on an app called NiceTalk where I speak with people from China who are wanting to learn better English. I get paid by the minute.
If you are curious then ask me questions! You can use me as a reference for either program.
Where am I going?
Besides A Coruna, Spain I seriously have no clue what else I’ll be doing. I’m keeping my options open because I want to be non-committal so I can seize the best opportunities for myself. I want to make it to Croatia, which means I can cross France, Italy, Switzerland, and other countries nearby. I’m not complaining!
Every time I tell someone that I’m about to go on a 5-month solo trip their main questions are:
“What’s it like?"
"How do you feel?"
"Are you excited?”
And while I usually say “yes, I’m excited!” I actually feel like I want to crawl in a hole and not talk about it. That's a lot of questions for someone who does not have a clear answer.
It’s exciting, yes. It’s a great opportunity and I’m so thankful that I’m privileged and blessed to be able to do this trip.
But it is so stressful.
It’s not a vacation.
It’s a trip in which I am completely independent with little money and I am seriously directionally
stupid challenged. Really though, every time I think of my worst fear while traveling solo it is failing to understand directions.
I am leaving family, friends, and comfort behind! I have a twin sister, a dog, a mom that I love to visit, a boyfriend, a life (believe it or not). Leaving these people I cherish behind, including my pup, is difficult!
To be honest, I just want to answer with how I feel like this, “I’m totally scared and excited and worried and ready and not ready and sad and happy and also I don’t know how I feel, really, ya dig?”
At first, it’s kind of like that unprepared dream where you show up naked to class. I don’t want to paint a picture that it’s all bad and horrible and you should be as anxious as me. It’s just that I have always traveled with someone else and on shorter trips.
I feel like this new thing I'm trying is BIG, bigger than me, and it’s as thrilling as standing on the edge of the cliff.
Let’s put it this way:
Have you ever been in line for a roller coaster and your adrenaline is pumping with excitement and you hear people screaming in the distance like it’s the zombie apocalypse but you also see the small kids in front of you who seriously give no sh** that they’re about to get on a huge ride so you have to act brave and nonchalant although you want to piss yourself and you keep looking behind you at the long line to see if there’s a way out and then you look side to side and there’s giggling people beside you and you feel like you’re the only one with sweaty palms and your heart is about to tear through your chest?
*insert sweaty smiley emoji face here* << That’s me.
I’m ready for this ride because waiting is excruciating. The closer I get to the ride the idea goes from “that sounds cool!” to “what the HELLLLL am I doing????” but I’m going and I’m still curious to see how it feels.
THAT is how this trip feels to me. But you know what? I freaking love roller coasters even though I do get sweaty and nervous beforehand. I get off that roller coaster feeling like a boss and always want to do it again. So I just keep telling myself that I’ll be okay.
What am I looking forward to the most? Meeting other people and making new experiences.
What do I fear the most? Not having enough money and struggling to find work. Loneliness. And getting lost.
What will I miss the most? Good toilet paper and peanut butter. JK. But really though. My dog and family. Security blankets so to speak.
So there you have it! Leaving for a solo trip is full of mixed emotions but that’s okay because I’m about to slay this summer with memories. I can’t wait to tell y’all what happens next!