For many abroad students, weekend and break trips are an exceptionally memorable component of the whole experience. Since you are already situated in a foreign country close to other enticing locations, getting to broaden your horizons further while abroad is never more accessible. Often, many students meet each other through their programs to coordinate travel, yet many others meet friends from their home universities at a new location. While I had had some experience with both formats of weekend travel, this past Fall Break I had the opportunity to undertake my first solo traveling trip.
I have been romanticizing London for ages, and the week-long Fall Break IES Abroad had given its students gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the city. Although I had originally planned to visit with other friends, other destinations appealed to them more and my sights continued to be set on the U.K. Initially, I felt shocked and fearful to suddenly find myself coordinating an entire out-of-country trip by myself. I geared up for my travels with anxious thoughts and general uncertainty about how to proceed with the endeavor.
Most of my romanticization of London was derived from having the city just out of reach on two separate occasions. While my family lived in Germany, we made two separate trips to England, yet both times I fell ill on the very first day with some freak virus. After spending the entire trip sick indoors, I developed this craving to one day return and explore every landmark I had missed. Now that I was healthy, an adult, and sitting on the wages from my summer job, I pushed through my fears and set out to enjoy this new experience.
Despite having done extremely little planning for this trip (I booked a hotel and then just didn’t plan anything else), I had exceptional success! One of the best takeaways from the solo travel experience was that I could move at the pace I was comfortable with the entire time. I think a lot of travel fatigue comes from trying to balance the energy levels of multiple people, often leading to tiring compromises between all in the group. With just myself, I could take more active stances when I felt like it and plan my rest times according to my tiredness. By setting my clock each day and understanding my body’s limits, I felt ready each day to accomplish my travel goals with a fresh mind and new excitement.
Another fun discovery about solo travel was my ability to follow any whim or random desire that struck me. Without a schedule and navigating competing wishes from many other people on a trip, I had the freedom to aimlessly follow what interested me the entire time. On the first day, I walked from the Tower of London to Kensington Palace in Hyde Park just by meandering around following street signs, going towards locations that looked cool, and taking breaks when I wanted to stop and look around. Following my random interests was also easy when it came to booking tickets for various things. My travel plan (which I had no reason to work as well as it did, but it was extremely successful) was to plan what I would do the next day the night before. When I wanted to go to a museum, I would just book tickets for the next day whenever I felt like waking up. I also found it helped when booking theater tickets. When I wanted to see a performance, I was pleased to find many random one-person seats in great viewing areas for reasonable prices.
Towards the end of the trip, I started to become fatigued. I also missed getting to laugh and talk with friends while vacationing. Overall, though, abroad gave me an exciting introduction to solo travel! I’m glad I was able to grow in my confidence as a traveler this Fall Break, and it has opened my eyes to the many amazing possibilities. I’m looking forward to many more expeditions in the future.
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Howdy folks! My name is Josef Kiesenhofer, and I'm a passionate accounting, German, and Spanish student excited to explore the world. I love all things blue and embroidering on clothes. I sometimes have a broadcast radio DJ show, too!