What five months of solo travel has taught me.

Every once in a while I start counting in my head exactly how many months and days I’ve been away now, and the other day realized that it’s almost been five months. Five months of discovery, adventures, happiness, sadness and everything in between. So what have I learned from traveling by myself so far?

Everyone thinks you’re going to die all the time, and really loves to remind you of it.
The most common thing is that everyone keeps reminding me that what I’m doing is dangerous, and that I might die. I then tell them that living is dangerous, and that I most certainly will die. Newsflash: we all do. The only thing we can really do anything about, is how we spend our lives between birth and death, and I’m not planning to spend them being scared. I will do what I want to do, and take the precautions necessary to not put myself in unnecessary danger but I’m not going to stop living my life just because someone says I might die because of it. Every single thing you do in life might kill you, and one day it will. I plan to live full out until that day, because dying at 30 while having the best time of my life sounds a lot better than living to 90 and thinking “I wish I had gone on that trip when I was 29.” I still plan to live until I’m very old of course, but I don’t think life is precious enough never to take risks. The risks are what makes life worth living.

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I feel absolutely invincible.

My confidence levels have skyrocketed since I began this journey. I feel like I can do absolutely anything and do it really well too. I think having to only have yourself to completely rely on for five months is either going to make you or break you, and I am far from broken. I have dealed with anything from sadness and being unable to eat, to being hit by a car and having to go in an ambulance to the hospital, to hiking in grizzly bear infested areas to driving for thousands and thousands of kilometers on my own. After having done all this, and especially with everyone thinking that I’m going to die no matter what I do, really gives you a huge confident boost. Luckily for me I’ve gotten really comfortable in every aspect of my life as well, from personal to professional to even body confidence. Last year I refused to wear a bikini, and earlier this summer I had anxiety about posting pictures from myself surfing and right now I’m at the point where I see myself in my underwear in the mirror and think “Hell yeah I look good!” And I promise you, my body looks exactly the same as it did a year ago. Maybe a bit more tanned… it has clearly proved to me that it’s all in the head. I feel confident in my body, in my English speaking abilities, in my social skills and just how I view myself daily. For the first time in my life I’m completely comfortable in myself and I want to shout it to the entire world! (which I kind of did the other day on Facebook but that’s a whole other story.)
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There might come a time when exploring feels downright boring.
I do realize that this might come across as spoilt and annoying to someone who might be a bit envious of my life right now, but sometimes being on what might seem as an endless holiday can be boring. Or maybe boring is not the right word, but after a while a beach is just another beach, a city just another city and a rock might just look like the very same rock you saw a few hours ago… Don’t get me wrong, it’s still so great, but it’s just maybe not as great as it was in the beginning. And I’m not comparing USA and Australia but had I arrived in Australia without just having spent three months in the United States I’m pretty sure I would have been a lot more wowed by the sights. If you do something for a certain amount of time, it will feel like everyday life, no matter how absolutely great it is. Being constantly on the move, and seeing brand new things every day makes me wish for boring days. Days where I do nothing, where I see no one and barely move. But remember, I still cried when I saw the sunrise over Uluru so I’m not completely traveled-out yet. But I’m still looking forward to returning back to Sweden in January and starting a new life closer to my family. They are the ones I constantly have in my mind every single day, and I’m so glad that I decided to resettle in my home town. I don’t even care if I won’t be able to get a work in the media industry, which is what I did up until I quit my job, because family is more important than a job. I’ll do whatever I can, as long as it will make me able to still travel and explore while being close to the people who matter the most to me.


My beautiful family the day before I got on the plane. I love this photo! Can’t wait to take another group shot in January again (mostly because I’ll be tanned and they won’t…) 

My faith in humanity has been somewhat restored.
I feel conflicted about this because there is so much bad happening in the world right now, and especially in Sweden. To be honest it scares the crap out of me. But continuing on the “everyone thinks I’m going to die” line, so many people have warned me about all the bad people I will meet, both in the US and in Australia. After exactly 5 months on the road I feel like every single person I have met have welcomed me into their lives with open arms. For 5 months every single person I have met have showed interest in me, and I have spoken to people who have been openly racist, homophobic, have had pretty extreme religious views (in my opinion) but despite us having wildly different opinions, we have all managed to overcome that and have great conversations and meetings. I wish the world was a bit more like that, just accepting. I know that I’m at an advantage, being a blonde Swedish young woman, and I know that most people will want to take care of me rather than harm me, so I’m not claiming that everyone who travels will have my experience. There is still a lot of messed up things going on in the world, but so far I’ve had nothing but kindness. The one thing I have found the most interesting have been when I tell people about our “socialist ways” in Sweden, the free education, the health care and the parental leave and other things like that, and everyone thinks it sounds great. And then when their own president tries to move their own country in that direction they HATE him. Most Swedes LOVE Obama, me included, so I find it so weird… anyway, enough politics.
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There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to travel.
I’m usually a person who is great at relaxing, seriously if there was a world championships I would most definitely qualify. But when you’re traveling to new places almost every single day, there is so much pressure on what I should do and what I should see. No matter what I tell people about what I’ve done or what I’ve seen, there is always the “oh, didn’t you do that?”  or “didn’t you go there?” comment and it’s so stressful. Despite doing more in a few months than I’ve almost done in my entire life, I constantly feel like I’m missing out. It’s stressing me out and I’m actively working on feeling like I don’t have to actually do every single thing there is, but it’s hard. Once again, I feel so spoilt for just having these feelings, but it is what it is.
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So what about that left hand of yours?
It hurts. Every single day it hurts. Sometimes more, sometimes less. After having done like 30 cartwheels for that picture at the top, I walked away with it absolutely aching. I didn’t notice it while I was doing it but afterwards it ached. My hand is fully functional, I can do anything I want, and I mostly notice afterwards if I’ve done something stupid. But there’s a constant throbbing in it, especially when I’m driving. I still can’t hold onto a steering wheel for a long period of time because of that, so no matter how much I’d want to, I really wouldn’t be able to cycle still despite it being four months since the accident. It’s so insane. But I was lucky. I know of five of us who set out of Sweden this year to cycle the world, and one person is still on the road. One is dead, one has a lot of injuries from the car hitting him, one has a broken foot, I have an aching hand. Life is wildly unfair, but you still need to take risks. Even if I googled “3D printed hand” the other day to see what my options would be if I chopped it off, it was all worth it. I believe that every single thing that has happened to me so far has happened for a reason, and it has all been worth it.
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On my bucket list for the future of the lone traveller: 
Hike to the Everest base camp (I wonder how many people will tell me that I might die doing this…)
Road trip or cycle around Iceland
Hike to Machu Picchu
Hike a fourteener in Colorado
Visit all the rest of the National Parks in the United States
Spend at least a month in Alaska

So many good things to come for me, I promise you that.

Comments

  1. Jeane says

    What a great post, Cecilia! I loved it! 🙂 And like you, Mike and I love President Obama, too. 🙂 Hiking to Machu Picchu was one of my best trips ever, so I highly recommend it! It is indescribable! In the meantime, continue with your fantastic journey, and keep being you!! Love, Jeane

  2. Saskia says

    what about hiking the PCT? I am so looking forward to read more about your travels. hope you’ll continue on posting on here even when you’re back home.

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