I’ve never experienced solo travel before.
I never had the opportunity to study abroad in college. It was a luxury that my family simply couldn’t afford.
I’ve never left the country. Well, besides Canada—but that doesn’t count, because that was before they even required passports to enter.
Hence, I’ve never owned a passport.
These thoughts have always been in the back of my mind, but they really hit me one night while reading Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass (a fantastic, life-changing book that I’ll write about in another post). In the book, she writes: “In order to transform your life, you may have to spend the money you do have, get a loan, sell something, borrow from a friend, put it on your credit card, or manifest it in some other way. […] This is about taking a leap of faith into a new realm that you strongly desire to be in, demanding of yourself that you rise to the occasion and start living your damn life already.”
“Start living your damn life already.” Those words really resonated with me. I’m nearing my 27th birthday, and I’ve never left the comfort of my U.S. bubble. Call it a quarter-life crisis, if you will.
Going to England is something I’ve always desired to do—visiting historic places I’ve only seen on TV, writing at cute cafés, enjoying afternoon tea with Princess Kate or J.K. Rowling (a girl can dream). I’ve always thought I would make it to Europe eventually. But when? My husband and I recently relocated from Minnesota to Colorado, we just bought our first house, and in the next year or so we’re planning to start a family. There’s always going to be a reason to not go, but the timing right now to do something a little crazy and spontaneous seems pretty darn perfect.
So that’s how I found myself feverishly Googling “writing classes in England” late one night in March. Another lifelong dream of mine is to write a novel, so I thought: Why not kill two birds with one stone? Maybe getting out of my everyday routine, exploring a new culture, trying new foods would give me that creative spark I’ve been searching for.
Honestly, I didn’t think I would find anything doable. Writing classes hosted by reputable publishing houses can be pricey, and with a busy calendar of social obligations in the coming months, my timeframe was specific and limited. But after a few clicks of the keyboard, as if the writing gods could sense my desperation, I found the perfect class: a one-day workshop hosted by Faber & Faber (publisher of authors like T.S. Eliot and Seamus Heaney, to name a few) titled “Start to Write”—the “no-excuses, let’s-get-going, beginners’ creative writing course to kickstart your creative life.”
Perfect. It sounded like the exact kick in the pants I needed. Plus, the class happened to land on my birthday: July 28. Happy birthday to me, indeed.
Once I got my husband’s blessing to take off to another country by myself for a week, my brain turned to planning mode. I got a great travel credit card that would allow me to rack up a ton of miles, I giddily applied for my first-ever passport, and I took on a few extra freelance projects to cover the cost of my trip. My hotel and flights are booked, I’ve started a cute collection of clothes to bring (European women are so much chicer than me), and I’ve begun planning an itinerary that will take me everywhere from Buckingham Palace to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour (I’ll write more about my plans in another blog post).
Having never left the country before—nor vacationed anywhere by myself—I’m a little frightened. But in a good way. I think experiencing solo travel at least once in your life is a great gift to give yourself. You’re on no one else’s schedule and you’re free to do whatever you want. I truly believe “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer,” so if there’s a place you’ve been wanting to discover, just do it already! Life is too dang short.