I have always been an introvert and have had a difficult time making friends or getting out of my shell; not even to mention backpacking through Europe. And while I have been able to function and get through school and find a job; I found myself getting lonely and isolated especially after moving to a smaller town. Even worse, I began experiencing social anxieties when I was forced to have to engage groups of people. When this happened, my life began to spiral downward and it almost felt like the walls were closing in on me.
I knew I had to do something to make a change; so I decided to work with a life coach who would be able to guide me through this. During this process, he challenged me to get out of my comfort zone little by little each month. First I had to introduce myself to one new person a day. Then I had to go to one social gathering a week and start a conversation. Things were going well and then I finally ramped up to backpacking through Europe by myself using the Couch Surfing website.
My Journey Backpacking Through Europe
Taking The Next Big Step: Europe
This was going to be extremely tricky for me because I love having a routine and knowing where everything is. Not only was I going to be traveling alone; but I was going to be breaking my routine which is very safe for me.
At first I was very trepidatious about the whole thing and I fought with my coach and begged him to do something else. But through the process I began to realize that it was my fears that was truly holding me back from living a life filled with joy and magic. So I finally bit the bullet so to speak and bought my ticket to London.
The weeks leading up to my trip were like waiting in line for a roller coaster ride; the closer I got to the date the more anxious I became. I did as much research as I could online to help calm my nerves and while it did give me the illusion of feeling better; I knew that the only thing that was going to help me was finally going.
Feeling Overwhelmed In London
Once I got to London I was completely overwhelmed. The airport was huge and I felt like a kid lost at the zoo. But I managed to meet up with my first Couch Surfing comrade and she was kind enough to point me in the right direction. As I began to traverse the city and check some of the sights, my little voice began to whisper, “Hey you’re doing it”! A little sense of confidence began to to settle in; and I started to feel better about the whole backpacking through Europe trip. As soon as that happened I remembered a famous quote my life coach shared with me from Ralph Waldo Emerson which says:
“Do the thing we fear and the death of fear is certain.”
As I began to contemplate this quote I came across these two young girls from Sweden who were also backpacking through Europe. They were both teenagers but seemed so mature for their age. They began telling me how they had been traveling the world since they were very young and have done many trips by themselves. As they shared these stories with me I just couldn’t believe how confident they were about venturing out all over the place by themselves.
Young European Backpackers Gave Me Confidence
When we walked around they were telling me all of the ins and outs of being safe while backpacking through Europe and also told me of the many hostels worth checking out. I took as much notes as I could as if I were studying for an exam and ramped up more confidence for the rest of my trip.
After seeing how confident these young girls and how they were able to travel alone at such a young age, it really gave me the confidence for the rest of my trip which was truly magical. After leaving London I went to Paris, Berlin, Greece, and Spain and truly had such a great experience. I met so many wonderful people along the way and made some friends that I plan on visiting next year.
I can honestly say that traveling changed my life for the better. Since returning back to the states so much of my life has improved. I wanted to share this story for anyone who may feel a bit nervous about traveling. Just do it and keep an open mind and you will see that amazing things will happen for you.