I remember my first solo international flight to Rome. I was meeting up with a tour group at a hotel just outside of the city. I was so nervous to navigate my way from the airport to the hotel all alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language.
My dad gave me some extra cash so I could safely take a taxi, but somewhere along the way, I worked up the courage to take public transportation on my own – I took the train to the metro and the metro to the burbs – then I wandered a bit and eventually stumbled across the hotel. It wasn’t a bad or confusing trek at all (oh, I’ve had those too – if you’ve been on those treks gone wrong with me, you are probably laughing about it right now, even though we weren’t laughing at the time).
It was a very liberating feeling to travel by myself. I felt like I didn’t need to wait for others to decide to join me – I could travel the world and meet new people along the way. Now I look back at being nervous in Rome as a silly idea. Since then, I’ve spent many hours at a time trekking solo through Rome without an agenda. It has become one of my favorite cities in the world.
I just flew from Miami to Vancouver and spent three days wandering around the city alone and loving every minute of it.
My next flight, to Beijing, was a long but smooth journey. Travel tip: hire a private driver for your airport transfer in Beijing – its a big airport. It made life much easier. Still, as a single female traveler, the trip from the airport to the hotel is always the scariest part because it usually involves me being alone in a vehicle with a strange man in a strange land. I definitely feel more comfortable prearrange transfer than just getting a taxi outside the terminal. My driver was very nice and even refused a tip–I would learn later that tipping isn’t always viewed as a good thing.
Beijing is dreary so far. The buildings and sky are gray. The traffic is heavy, and there is a stench of harsh industrialism. So far the staff I’ve met have been very nice and helpful and the hotel room is fair (except for the rock hard mattress – I feel like I’m sleeping on a pool table!).
It was daylight for the last 24 hours of my journey – the sun has finally set and it is definitely time for me to sleep – I’m just going to try and stay awake for a few more hours so I can hopefully adjust to the time difference.