• Catherine Goncalves

On Travelling Solo

I vividly remember the first time I got on a plane by myself to travel. I was 16 and had the opportunity to take a course in Mexico for the summer. While I jumped at the chance, a part of me felt so anxious taking off not knowing what I'd be returning with. From that trip forward, I learned how important it is to do things on your own, for yourself often, and at every stage of your life.

For about half of my recent trip to Iceland, I was on my own. While it wasn't the first time I had ever travelled solo, It was one of the most meaningful times. The first half of my trip, I was pretty focused on getting the content I needed for the brands I was working with. And while I love photography and the opportunities it has afforded me, I definitely needed to remind myself to put down the camera during this trip to be present in some of the most stunning landscapes I had ever seen. So this is just a little heads up to keep my head up.

I think like a lot of people, I bought into the idea that travelling would be a way to "find myself". As if I would magically wake up in a country one day and say, "WOW! There I am!" and then ride into a sunset on some boat that just happened to be there- however, despite no lack of effort on my part- I'm not Julia Roberts, and this isn't Eat Pray Love.

The more I chased the idea that this version of me existed out there in the world and all I had to do was travel to distant countries to find her, the more disappointing I became when I suddenly didn't have my life together when I returned home. In fact, I often felt as though with every boarding pass and stamp on my passport I accumulated, I had more questions than answers. I became more curious that satisfied.

What I can tell you is that travelling alone widens your perspectives, makes you uncomfortable in the best way, and helps you learn who you are when you remove all sense of routine and expectations from your everyday life. In all honestly, I'm afraid to settle. To wake up one day in a routine that I don't love. Travelling alone gives you the ultimate sense of freedom. You never know what cafe you may stumble upon, friend you may meet, or new experience you may find yourself in. It's this infinite space of possibility, I crave, and memories I cherish. The "what ifs", the late nights and early mornings spent bonding with people who were once strangers, and overwhelming sense of knowing how small I am that makes my heart happy.

And each time I come home whether it's been a week or months abroad, I find myself amazed at the personal growth I've experienced when compared to things that never seem to change back home. While apart of me will always feel the need to share with family and friends the highlights of my trips (I am writing a blog here haha) it's the quiet moments- the sunrises I have watched that aren't captured in pictures or words, the memories and experiences I don't write about but have imprinted my heart that I wish everyone could experience.

If you've ever travelled alone, or have some funny stories- I'd love to hear them!