Taking a Break…

Independent travel is hard and it’s a common theme among other fellow solo travelers.  Sure there are the highs of the places and cultures visited but also the lows of loneliness and trying to find accommodation in a city where you’ve just arrived after a full day of travel.

The hardest aspect of this whole experience is dealing with the loneliness factor- extreme loneliness.  Solo travelers are far and few between.  Most people travel with a friend and/or a significant other so it makes it difficult to approach people who are already in a group.  In my “normal” life, I do not meet people as easily as others and this is only magnified while backpacking.  I’m shy and self-conscious.  But, during this trip, I think I have broken out of my shell by making myself start conversations and asking people what they are doing for dinner.  The nighttime is the hardest because I can keep myself busy during the day visiting sights.

Morocco was especially tough on me as many of you know.  The old medinas, the friendly people and the amazing handicrafts were everything I had imagined Morocco to be.  But, I still felt lonely and I did everything I could to meet people including staying in the first hotel listed in the Lonely Planet, and hanging out in the common areas but to no avail.  I did eventually meet some great travelers in Morocco but not until my last two days.  Pity.

As soon as I reached the hostels in Italy and Greece things had turned around.  For the first time on this trip, I met other solo travelers and for the most part they all shared a common “lonely” theme.  This revelation that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way was reassuring.  But, the thing with independent travel is that everyone is on their own schedule and as soon as you meet someone they are out the door on to their next destination.  During, my time in Italy and Greece I met loads of people but something inside me just didn’t seem right.

Once I reached Turkey, after a night of shivering on the deck of a Greek ferry, I realized that I wasn’t having the time of my life as I had expected to.  What was wrong?  I love travel.  But, when I look back on all my other travel experiences the things I remember most were when I was part of a group tour.  Now, some people throw their noses up at the thought of an organized group tour but I love them.  Tours are more expensive (but really not that more expensive) than on your own but I feel like I get to see and experience more as part of a tour and it’s also a guarantee of meeting people that are going to be around for more than a day or two.

I came home yesterday not as a failed round the world traveler but as one that is figuring out what works personally and what doesn’t.  I talked about going home with lots of other travelers and a lot of them told me to keep with it and don’t go home.  But, I feel like I know what’s right for me and even as I type this I don’t regret coming home.  But, this is definitely not the end!!

I used the money I would I have spent making my way to Egypt to meet my sister to buy a one-way ticket to Seattle from Istanbul and also a one-way ticket to Cairo from Seattle.  I’m still going to go to Egypt with Amy in July and after she leaves I will continue on to South East Asia on the round the world tickets I originally bought.  In the meantime, I will be looking at adventure group tours as well as some volunteering programs (as suggested by one traveler).

Stay tuned… I hope to have some pictures posted soon as well as some other stories of my travels so far. 


6 Responses to “Taking a Break…”

  1. 1 Keri May 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Welcom home, I have tried to put myself in your position many times after reading your blogs and you are for sure a brave soul, I like to think I can meet people easily but half way around the world I am sure I would fail. SO congrats on how far you went, and the upcoming trips!!!

  2. 2 mandy May 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    omg, i totally understand stacy! we miss you too! i’m glad you’ve come home for a bit. i felt the same way while traveling, sooooo self-conscious and being alone in a new place isn’t as comfortable as being with someone else in a new place, especially in a place with different cultures and languages. i cannot even tell you how happy i was that you came to paris with me! i would have died. seriously. probably would have had a major breakdown trying to get myself out of my hotel room like what happened to me in amsterdam. man i was so proud of myself when i finally did it, but holy shit it wasn’t something i was expecting to be so hard!! to me, people are the most interesting part about life and the places are fun, but the people make it profound. turkey will always be there, but man, i have so much to tell you about all the new things happening here! 🙂 love you hun! enjoy a well-deserved break!

  3. 3 Angela May 18, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Wow, that’s a bold move! I have always worried about the loneliness on a trip like that, but I don’t think I’d be brave enough to admit it and take a break.

    I hope you enjoy the second half of your trip and find ways to have that group tour experience. It’s definitely what I prefer, too.

  4. 4 Corey May 20, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I can totally identify with the solitude, Stacy (although not on the same level). It’s one thing to be alone and stay home in your safe, familiar environment, but to take on the planet alone is truly commendable. It’s more than I would have the guts to do!

    Welcome back. You’ll be ready for another go in no time I’d imagine.

    I’ve got to ask though- Now that you’ve had a chance to step back from your regular life in the states, do you notice things about life here that maybe you didn’t before? I’ve heard from other traveling friends that they find that they have way more stuff than they need or upon their return the priorities of their life have totally been readjusted. Any epiphanies while you were roaming?


  5. 5 Kathy June 5, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Since you have been back I forgot you were still adding to your journal.

    I love you and think your are one of the bravest women I have know to travel on your own, but agree tour groups would be fun for some part of the time.

    I totally think you should do volunteer work when you start traveling again what a great idea. You would be terrific teaching English in some of the countries you are going to visit.

    Love you bunches, Aunt Kathy

  6. 6 Malena June 15, 2008 at 4:35 am

    I can totally emphasize with you! My rtw has also been, at times, extremely lonely… so I too am planning a little itinerary change, although I haven’t figured out all the details yet. Tours are nothing to scoff at – they’re such a good way to meet people and then actually continue to spend time with them. Good luck!

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Where’s Stacy?

Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)


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