Take a moment and think back.
Where did you dream of traveling when you were young?
For me, it was Italy. It was even mentioned in my high school yearbook. I can't recall now what the draw was for me as a teenager, but certainly, the pull is still with me as an adult. For decades, it has been in the back of my mind that one day, I would visit Italy. It was never a question of “if,” but of “when.”
Along the way, other trips took priority, or different opportunities presented themselves, or work took me elsewhere, or I couldn't afford the time or the money…something else always took precedence over fulfilling this particular dream.
Then, two years ago, I finally experienced a bit of the food, wine, art, and culture of Italy: I spent one week in Milan, taking a few day trips to other destinations nearby. I couldn't have been more excited!
The timing was not good. I was very busy with work, juggling multiple projects and deadlines. I needed to have a lengthy medical procedure performed, which would require me to be at home for at least three months. I had very little spending money to spare.
It really was not the ideal time to travel.
But, I asked myself, “If not now, when?”
Over the last number of years, I had watched several people I loved die without ever living out their travel dreams. They had deferred them and deferred them until one day, it was too late. I realize this sounds like a tired cliché, but it's true: I didn't want to find myself in the same situation.
And so, I went to Italy. I ate pizza (of course!) made from top quality local ingredients. I attended Expo 2015. I took a bus tour of Milan. I bought local tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, fresh buffalo mozzarella and some wine and made my own dinner. I went to the opera. I enjoyed aperitivo. I walked. I tried a different flavor of gelato every day.
Because of Milan's proximity to other destinations, and the ease of train travel, I was able to visit other places in Lombardy during that week. I discovered the wines of Franciacorta at a grand palazzo in the countryside. I tasted fresh olives off the tree (not a good idea, by the way) and oils made right next to the olive grove in Brescia. I took a ferry to Monte Isola and witnessed the Santa Croce Flower Festival.
I reveled in the joy of finally realizing this long-held travel dream.
Life is busy. We all have commitments that we must respect. But it is also really important to honor our commitments to ourselves to follow our solo travel dreams. I like what life coach Nicholas Ferguson has to say about this: “Following your dreams keeps you in touch with a childlike faith that believes the unbelievable, and sees the possible in the seemingly impossible.”
Get in touch with your younger self. Think back to the places you yearned to explore. See the possible. Don't let the clock run out on your solo travel dreams. Fulfilling them will not only give you immense satisfaction, but a wonderful trip and beautiful memories.