In an earlier post I said that I was outgoing, but if only I knew you. In other words, I was someone who wanted to show confidence, but didn’t actually have it. I remember in Athens, sitting on a tour bus listening to a lost Italian couple try to speak with the Greek bus driver. It was apparent the driver didn’t speak Italian and the couple didn’t speak English or Greek. I walked up to the couple and asked if I could help. Suddenly my Italian from two years ago came flooding back and I found myself translating directions to help fellow travelers. I walked back to my seat after helping them off and found myself a bit teary.
If I had been with a friend, I would have sat back and whispered to them how badly I felt for the lost Italian couple. If it were at the beginning of my trip, I would have thought over and over “you should try to help them” and then regretted not speaking up the second they walked off the bus. Maybe this small interaction helped their day and then they never thought of it again, but to me it illuminated meaning. It was at this moment I understood why I needed to take this adventure on my own.
Traveling solo is about learning to use every part of your intuition. Its about honing your sense of direction, tastebuds, and the incredibly important gut. There is so much that cannot be taught through a blog post or podcast. Most importantly for me, traveling solo was about understanding the gift of failure
I grew up as the youngest of five kids, so I knew I was supposed to learn from my siblings mistakes. Somewhere along the way that thought morphed into don’t make mistakes period. I know this wasn’t the intent. However this means I became someone afraid of disappointing those around me, afraid of getting in trouble and afraid of not doing what was expected of me. This did benefit me in many ways, but it also hindered. All in all I was terrified of failing.
As a traveler this fear is what keeps people at home. It quickly realized this scared person was not who I wanted to be on the road. I wouldn’t get the experience I wanted and knew I could have. When I was out on my own, I had no one to impress. If I messed up (as long as it wasn’t a dangerous mistake) I didn’t have to tell anyone. I wouldn’t ever see most of these people again. A few cities of this practice and I found that I met more people, ate better food, got lost less, laughed more, and felt more like a local by allowing myself to fail.
I can describe my entire trip in one sentence. I learned how to accept failure. Perosnally, I couldn’t have learned this with someone by my side. Not to say that this trip failed, but there were many times I failed on this trip. There were so many times I took the wrong turn or said the wrong word, but when you are alone you have no other option. This was the most valuable thing I have ever learned.
So even though I started these photos with my quote signs as a neat keepsake for my parents, they coincidently became more poingnant that I could have imagined.
I am still nervous to pursue travel blogging as a career, but I think that feeling will stick with me forever. I now understand that I have learned more from failure than I ever did from success. Just like I needed to understand that failure is ok and actually beneficial, other people do too. If I can help one person through my failures, it will have been worth it. If one person receives enough of a nudge onto that international flight because of what they read here, than I have not failed at all.
There is not a doubt in my mind that traveling is what I was born to do. It may or may not be in the form of blogging, but I have never been happier to work than while I was writing this blog. These past 5 weeks have been filled with so many memories and lessons that will shape me for the rest of my life.
But this doesn’t all stop here. The Very Hungry Traveler will continue to provide readers with new content, new photography, new tips and tricks. Make sure to keep the questions coming and keep checking in. Imagine Eric Carl’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar with a backpack and that’s me, always on the go. There is so much more to taste everyday.
-The Very Hungry Traveler