The trio “Wind city” – “Layover in Nashville” – “My memories of St. Louis” completed my last spring break trip as a college student in 2012. As I realized as much as I wanted to focus on feelings and memories only, my obsession with a chronological timeline, which makes things so much easier to follow, kicked in. So let’s trace back the flow of time, to the origin, and the development of my hobby in solitary travel.
The first time I traveled solo was to Boston. Back in 2010, the notion of exploring by myself seemed like a dreadful idea. “What do you mean going alone? How am I gonna afford a single hotel room? What do you mean I can stay in a dorm room, like, with strangers who can be psychopaths or serial killers? Who’s gonna eat with me? Who’s gonna take pictures for me and with me?” But the urge to go eventually triumphed the fear.
Back in 2010, I was inexperienced. My luggage included a full backpack, a carry-on sized suitcase, a huge purse, and a bunch of shopping bags. By the time of my graduation trip, I survived 10 days in Canada with half a backpack. I didn’t research anything but relied totally on the trolley bean town tour to get to know Boston. By the time of my graduation trip, I planned every minute of my stay. I didn’t open my mouth to talk to anyone unless it was to ask for the wifi password. By the time of my graduation trip, I befriended people who just shared an elevator ride with me. Thinking back about that time in Boston, all I could remember was the awkwardness, the misery, the hunger, the feeling like I was a lonely loser, which was not at all lessened when I saw dozens of other college students traveling by themselves at the hostel.
As a result, my souvenirs of the pretty, peaceful and historic town was a handful of mediocre photos with not a lot of impression. I could trace back every main event of the visit though. I arrived at the bus station, looking lost. A girl swindled me 10 bucks (not a very nice first impression) but she did in fact told me how to get to the metro station closest to my hostel (No like seriously why didn’t I google that basic information before hand?). I found my hostel pretty easily, checked in, had no problem understanding the Boston accent, left the hostel to walk around the neighborhood. Next morning, I showed up at the meeting point for the city tour, being the only guest on the bus the whole time. 45 mins later, the tour ended, with the map of the tour route in hand, I walked the route again to take better pictures, with a little detours from time to time to places of interest – Harvard University, Charles River bank, Boston harbor. First time walking that long too and I was pretty shocked at myself.
Time passed, everything changed. Traveling solo is a joy now to me. But everything has a start, and Boston is that much needed start to push me out of my comfort zone.