In 2015 I went on my first trip overseas. It was a bus tour through Europe, all organised and I have to say I was very well looked after.
I was reluctant to go as I don’t like travelling alone. But it was either that or not go at all and since my children had given me strict instructions with a travel voucher to use it on travel outside of Australia I had no choice but sign up for this tour.
As I had never been before I figured the sensible thing to do was to be on a tour with people who knew where they were going. I looked at it as a fact finding mission.
Living in Australia you quickly realise we are a long way from anywhere else. Going overseas means sitting a long time on a plane where the seats seem to get harder by the minute and comfort soon becomes a distant memory.
I did make it and the tour was wonderful. From London to Brussels via train and then by bus through Europe.
Our tour group was interesting as I imagine every tour group is. It was made up of people from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Being on your own has its challenges. You do get to pal up with people your own age and you do get to sit with different folk at meal times. The downside is you are often on your own, you don’t have that person with you to share those moments of wonder and on a tour of Europe there are many each day. You can’t help but feel it would be so much better sharing those moments you found captivating.
But one of the things I did was to share each evening on Facebook my day’s adventures and where possible I added in a section: ‘What I learned today’. As I realised every day was an adventure in countries I had never been to before there was always something I learned, like discovering in Italy that road markings were nothing more than suggestions as most drivers appeared to ignore lane markings, parking rules and indicating…it seemed like you drove along and if there was a space in front of you, you drove into it….it was actually most entertaining mainly because I wasn’t driving and our coach driver was a man of considerable driving skill.
My trip wasn’t the longest trip you could take but it did contain a lot of people my age. Like so many folk our age we can get sick from time to time, and some of my fellow travellers did so. There was that collective concern for each other.
My adventure into ‘illness and or injury’ was falling over in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Just tripped and over I went. Being a single traveller there was no shoulder I could cry on to hide my embarrassment so I grinned and bore it and in the privacy of my hotel room later I checked out my injuries pleased in a perverse way that I now had a bruise on my ribs anyone would have been proud of.
Despite all that I made it home and recall so much of my adventure with great affection. You adjust to your circumstances, you learn to cope with the things you don’t have, you do all you can to connect with other travellers and you appreciate what it is you have in front of you.
I am tempted to do another such trip as someone taking me places I haven’t been before when I am alone makes sense to me.