Dolo travels soon come. No invite.
— Natelegé (@natelege_) August 22, 2014
Sometimes life works out exactly the way you want it to and even better than you could ever imagine. Ten days after writing the statuses above, I spoke my desires into existence.
It was just another normal summer day. After work, there was my gym workout then a walk home for a long hot shower. I sat on my bed, unlocked my phone and saw an e-mail from an editor at TheBoombox, a site I’ve been contributing to since 2012. It was an opportunity to go to Outlook Festival in Pula, Croatia, and write a travel diary for the site and Bacardi. Upon first glance, my thought was, “This is spam.” I re-read it five times, stared into space and said to myself “HELL YEAH, I’m going.”
Initially when I wrote the status above, I had no idea how I was going to embark on a trip alone abroad. But there was a strong desire in my heart to do it. I really just wanted to get away from everything and everyone for a little bit and change up the scenery. Last year I went to London alone but met with family and my best friend after 24 hours. Previous to that, I traveled to San Diego, Calif. and Tampa, Fla., for journalism bootcamps during college. But I had a community of mentors and student journos when I arrived. But this time, I would be completely alone. I decided not to tell many people about my trip until I was literately getting on the plane, because I didn’t want to jinx it. As my father drove me to John F. Kennedy airport, I was jittery, but once I landed in Frankfurt, Germany, for my connecting flight to Croatia, I was super stoked to be in another part of the world. Here are 10 things I realized about traveling alone:
1. You are really alone! lol This epiphany doesn’t occur until you start hearing different languages and accents and seeing cool things and you have no one to point it out to but yourself. So taking many pictures and capturing videos were compensation for this.
2. When meeting new people, two thoughts come to mind: Are you cool or crazy? There was one Scottish guy who asked to touch my hair when I was at the festival. There was also two drunk Turkish men who asked me to accompany them to a stage as I was getting ready to leave the festival on the first night. But I kept it moving and always had my eyes open for anything suspicious. But for the most part everyone was friendly and at no moment while I was away did I feel like my life was in danger.
3. Get your selfie game up! You are your own photographer. When I visited the Pula Arena, I walked around the ancient locale and immediately thought it would be a dope place for a photo shoot. But I settled on a basic photo (above) taken by a kind tourist who I also took a photo of. Otherwise, I took lots of selfies at angles I didn’t even know I was capable.
4. Eating alone may be a little weird but if you’re used to it then you will have no problem. With all the running around that I was doing, I could care less about who was watching me eat while I was in the hotel cafeteria or at the festival.
5. Keep a notebook for random thoughts and other information you may need to get around, just in case your phone dies.
6. There comes a point when you get anxious about being by yourself and you may want company. After awhile I just wanted to get back on the plane. And this comes from a person who loves being alone. But keeping communication with friends and family through text messages, e-mails and tweets kept me going.
7. Take it all in. There is something extremely empowering about getting up and going to another part of the world where no one knows who you are. While I sat by the Adriatic Sea I looked up at the turquoise sky while I sat in the lukewarm water and all my worries drifted away – I know this sounds so cliche. But I told myself that I would one day I would return with bae.
A photo posted by @natelege on
8. Beware, a bad case of wanderlust will follow when you return home. Once you break out into the world solo, you want to do it again. I’m excited about the next journey whenever that comes along.
In the meantime, check out my travel diary for TheBoombox.com.
— Natelegé Whaley