I never get stressed before I fly I have been flying for years and I know what to do, it’s all good. This was not the case right before my first solo trip. I didn’t know where my passport was, I was dealing with a suitcase, weight restrictions and no online check-in and I got very angry.
Before I went my wonderful friend Jess, The Gap Year Guru, told me that problem solving was going to be the thing that made all the difference and if a problem did occur, being by yourself is going to be a much bigger challenge. I nodded and didn’t think much more about it. Don’t worry Jess, your words would come to fruition!
As in most cases there was no need to be stressed at all. I got to the airport, sent my case away and got on my plane. Had a row to myself, I got to nap. All fine.
So as I stepped off the plane in Iceland, My laces got caught in my hiking boot eyelets and I fell over and grazed my knee, hilarious, if only I could have a gif of my falling over, it would actually make any situation a million times better. I am laughing thinking about it now but yes, I was in a lot of pain but I got my bag and changed my shoes and everything was fine!
I got picked up by my rental company and I got given my camper. I went to the shops and then I drove all day to the glacial lagoon. Wonderful, productive first day. Hurray!
What a glorious morning, I wake up, go to the black sand iceberg beach at sunrise, take some photos, get annoyed by an ignorant german guy who kept standing right in front of me when I was taking photos. Swine! I then go back to the glacial lagoon, spot a seal, take some pictures, go for a walk. I then go back to the beach to take more shots. When I get back to my car to go off on my adventures, I can’t find my phone…I lost my black phone on a black sand beach. Well the profanities that were coming from me at this time was unnatural and I started to cry, then I started to problem solve.
I thought to myself, do I have to drive the 6 hours back to Reykjavik to buy a new phone? Do I go to a petrol station and ask to call home? How am I supposed to navigate anywhere? At this point I realised just how handy the damn things are!
Thankfully after two rounds of retracing my steps, two lovely girls held up my phone, I thank them profusely and I then went to hug an iceberg with happiness. Thank you kind strangers, I would have been lost without you!
Day 3 + 4
So these two days were fine, I drove, I explored, I went for walks, ate hotdogs, grand stuff. Apart from cooking, that really did suck. I can’t cook and I gave up pretty quickly. Also I did have to sleep in a petrol station car park because I was exhausted and the campsite in town was closed. Kind of felt like a tramp but gave up feeling anything once I was watching Firefly snuggled up in my sleeping bag.
My final day, I had gone over my miles in the car so I decided to stay in Reykjavik and explore more, walk the entire length and breath of the city centre. I get quite weird on my own in a city, I feel like I should rush through things, I have no idea why I do this. It was getting pretty exhausting trying to find things to do and I had eaten everything I could. I now had to find a petrol station close to the airport that I could sleep in.
Luckily my parents rang me and said that they had booked me a cheap hotel room really close to the airport. I cried with happiness because living out of a van and walking/driving all day is extremely tiring. I drove to the hotel, got lost, had a cry, got into my room and at 7pm I fell asleep. Woke up at half 2 in the morning, watched some YouTube, ate some breakfast and left for the airport. Nothing could stop me…
Oh wait, everything can.
Getting to the airport
You see, I wrote an entire blog post about my rental. It sucked and at this point I hated it, like with a fiery passion!
It was really dark on the roads and the road I needed to take to get to the airport was closed, so I cried, I was driving around trying to find an exit and I go down a dead end.
This is where it gets fun; there was a giant patch of water in the middle of the road, that I didn’t see and of course I drive into it, I quickly get out of it and try to turn around but it’s too late. The wheels sort of lock up and I am in a lane behind a Subway and I can’t turn my wheels. I thought, I am 5km away from the airport, how am I going to get there, am I going to have to abandon the camper, there are no taxis anywhere. I cry more and I am just so done with this camper, it is a piece of shit. Thankfully I get out of this situation. Park at the airport. Run far far away from the camper and go stand in line for a hour to get on my flight. Then home.
What I learned:
- I am a stress cryer. I don’t mind a good cry to cleanse you of woes but good god I cried a lot! When I was in a tight spot I just started to weep. Damn it tear ducts!
- I do things very quickly. When you are with people you saunter places, you stop and chat and take pictures but when you are on your own, there is nothing left to do. I am Speedy Gonzales. In theory I could have driven the entire island in my 5 days but I didn’t know how quickly I could tick stuff off my list.
- I don’t need to talk to people. I think some people may have gone insane with the lack of human interaction I found myself in. I think some days I talked to one person. That is ok to me.
- Despite all this, I really do want someone or a small group of people who I can travel with. I like being by myself and doing my own thing but I’d like to have the option. I just haven’t found them.
- I am very capable. I have always known this but it’s nice to have confirmation. I can book, travel, explore, everything, by myself. Although I do ring home to talk things out, I can do it. It’s a nice feeling.
- I have a great relationship with my family. They may drive me mad at times but they get me, I am a product of their madness and it’s always nice to know that I can call and they will listen. Most people see this as a weakness and think that I get home sick because I call them. Thats not the case. It’s because I feel comfortable talking to them, I trust them when I may not be comfortable or trust talking to others.
- Taking pictures of yourself is such an ordeal! I know I could have asked people but I don’t like doing that. Also setting up a tripod is annoying. I saw a solo traveller take some photos of herself and I just wanted to give her props for not caring and doing her thing. I am not there yet.
- 5 days was a little long for what I had planned. This is something that will always be hit or miss. Maybe I should be the type that doesn’t plan too much and just go off and come back whenever.
Would I solo travel again? Hell yes! I love doing things my way, answering to no one and not worrying what my travel party thinks of me. It’s so refreshing.
Would I drive solo again? Yes! There is nothing better than being independent. I love driving and the freedom it gives. I will happily rent a car all around the globe if I can.
I think if you are like me and are socially capable but just not forward, start small and work your way up. Get comfortable with yourself in solo situations. That does sound strange but what I mean is, I didn’t know I would cry so much, I didn’t know how quickly I would get stuff done. Start small and see what happens, then go on to bigger and better projects.
Or just jump right in, who am I to tell you anything!
If you are taking your first solo trip I wish you all the luck and hope your tear ducts don’t explode like mine!