On Solo Travel (for silly.little.kiwi blog)

The following are my responses to questions from Tara at silly.little.kiwi.com
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Athens, Greece
          I’m Grace, I’m 28 years old and I’ve been to around 40 countries in the last ten years and often journey alone. At 18 I traveled to Colombia with a small group of friends and a year later my second international trip—or my first solo trip— happened by accident. I was planning to tour Eastern Europe with a friend and when she canceled last minute I decided to go on my own. I was nervous and after a few glasses of wine on the flights over, I found myself in Budapest sometime around midnight. It was dark and I realized that I was a tiny bit tipsy.  I managed to figure out the train to the city center then wandered around seeking my hostel for a while. The snow blew in circles, melting on my face, mixing with tears of frustration as I struggled to find where I needed to go. Finally, I walked into a 20+ bed hostel dorm which was completely empty (I should note that it was January/not exactly high tourist season). I ate a chocolate bar then slept with my passport and money inside my sports bra. I questioned whether this trip would be worth it but managed to sleep.
          In the morning everything changed. As I was heading out to get something to eat, I heard someone speaking English down the hall! Desperate for a companion, I rushed to introduce myself and made a new friend that day who even took the train to Prague with me (we’re still friends today). My favorite thing about traveling solo is the incentive to meet new people. All travelers get lost, have to squeeze into a tiny bathroom which won’t fit their bags or have stories to tell another person. We need other people and when you don’t have an immediate companion to turn to you are forced to introduce yourself to strangers. If you’re like me then this is going to be intimidating at first. But finding people at hostels or in train stations who come from worlds vastly different than yours yet are sharing unique and memorable moments with you is worth the struggle. The people I’ve met traveling have become my lifelong friends. These friendships continue to enrich my life.
          Through traveling alone I’ve learned how strong I am (both physically and mentally). I’ve had to punch a robber, push a molester and carry luggage that weighs more than half as much as me! I’ve sat through 12-hour flights that bring one to the edge of sanity and survived some disgusting stomach rebellions. I’ve witnessed riots and bathed in the Mediterranean/Caribbean/Arabian Seas. I’m still learning how to accept and embrace being different (both on the road and back “home”) and (this is a big one for me) how to ask for and accept help from others. Solo travel has made me who I am today and gifted me with many friends and memories. Solo travel is a luxury. Be brave, take the journey alone!
          – One product you recommend for traveling
Dry skin solution: I coat my face with a generous layer of Weleda Skin Food before long flights. Putting a touch of this ointment in each nostril helps protect against circulating co-passenger germs as well. VIM&VIGR compression socks are also a must.
          – An app you recommend downloading
I don’t use many apps apart from Google Maps, Spotify…
You can follow/contact me on Instagram: @graceintheworld

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