Traveling to Italy, Portugal, and Spain taught me the importance of self-love. Not knowing anybody or these languages, I was tested in a way I never thought possible. I will never forget the lessons I learned that have impacted who I am and who I’m becoming.
Lesson 1: Negativity doesn’t exist at the top
In South Florida where I’m from, everything’s flat. I used to joke around with people I met and say the highest point in my area is the dump, and they even made it a park. So being outside, unless it’s the beach isn’t something I pride myself for here. When I got to Italy, I fell in love with hiking or getting to the top of any view because the rush of feelings it gave me. It’s motivating, inspiring, and challenging to walk up to the top of a mountain, or the highest landmark in the city and just look out at the world. It’s a place for clarity and love. Whether I hiked up alone or with others, there was no hiding the sense of accomplishment you get when you realize where you started and where you are now. From hiking I learned how to have courage and believe in myself. I learned on a deeper level how strong I can be. If you’re ever feeling down, find nature.
Lesson 2: Ask yourself, would be your own friend?
In your 20’s there’s so many distractions in today’s time, cough cough technology. There’s an app for everything to keep you more occupied into something else (Pokemon Go, Tinder, Facebook) than learning how to love yourself. Traveling by myself taught me how to be my own friend. I was the only one who had my back when I got lost or when I drank too much. I learned how to laugh at myself and cheer myself on. Every day I tried focusing on what I could do to become better for others. I really thought about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses. I used to think personal development was more for work development, but traveling made me see differently. I had my ups and downs because it’s hard stuff to understand you need to work on yourself, but it’s also very invigorating to find out what it is so you can one day love someone in your fullest potential. Loving yourself will only open you up to loving others to the core. If someone asked me this question before I traveled, I might have hesitated, but now I can fully say YES I WOULD BE MY OWN FRIEND.
Lesson 3: It’s okay to cry
There is no happy without sad so I can’t say traveling alone wasn’t hard. It was uncomfortable and I cried a lot. It’s never easy to travel by yourself and most people don’t open up about the feeling of loneliness. Traveling solo is something I highly recommend because of this; it opened myself up to grow into a better person. One of the worst feelings in the world is being with friends, having a good time, and feeling completely alone. It was a feeling I never felt until I traveled. I wanted it to go away, but it wouldn’t. It made me realize the power of relationships. There are few people in life that unite your soul where you never feel alone in their presence, find those people and never let them go.
Lesson 4: Follow your instincts
It was my first time taking a train by myself from Naples to Bologna. I remember looking up the directions the night before, but when I got to Bologna my phone deleted it all. There wasn’t any WiFi at the train station, but I remembered the bus number I was supposed to take. I hopped on the bus, only knowing the address of my place and kept my eyes peeled when the bus stopped. The problem was, the bus stops had no names! Then a thought rushed into my head and I remembered that Google Maps from the day before said it was about 13 minutes on the bus. I timed myself and got off at that stop. The Air Bnb was all the way in the back of a village, but my instincts brought me right to it. From then on whenever I got lost, I gave myself a boost of motivation. I knew that turning around would only confuse me more than moving forward.
Lesson 5: Reflect on your past for your present and future self.
While being in alone for most of my trip, I learned that people need people. At my lowest low of loneliness, It helped me gain more empathy for others. I gave back to people playing music on the street, I stopped and helped others find places even if I was lost myself. I learned the only way to have empathy is to feel pain yourself. If life is easy and your worst struggle is what you’re going to wear that day, it’s hard to relate with others who actually have problems. I needed to grow on more of an emotional side and every city taught me that in one way or another. Traveling has given me more faith in myself than I’ve ever had and I have to be excited for what’s next because my life is made for others, not my own. Each day I work on loving myself will be a better day for others around me. To all the cities I visited THANK YOU for giving me a better life perspective.
Lisbon- THANK YOU for your layovers. I was able to see a lady pet a wild duck and a tree so big that if they tore it down it would probably ruin multiple buildings in that area.
Rome- THANK YOU for your love. I came back here three times because there was so much culture and amazing food for better prices.
Florence- THANK YOU for being the first place where everything went wrong (everything closed on Mondays, fire at the sunset) but it never mattered because life’s about who you’re with not where you are.
Naples- THANK YOU for your pizza and learning the ins-and-outs of how different you are from the rest of Italy, really one of a kind!
Amalfi Coast- THANK YOU for my first hike, the views of my AirBnb, your peace, and the sketchy bus rides.
Capri- THANK YOU for your welcoming atmosphere. This was the first place I met friends by myself and you gave me hope I could travel alone.
Bologna- THANK YOU for the best food I ever had in Italy.
Verona- THANK YOU for being “the city of love” and letting me cry watching Adele live.
Milan- THANK YOU for your beautfiul Duomo, letting me relax and helping me find a gelato festival that made all my dreams come true.
Lake Como- THANK YOU for giving me clarity and the next level of happiness that I can still feel.
Venice- THANK YOU for letting me be a tourist and get lost more than I ever did in 1 days time and also letting me sleep on a water taxi out of exhaustion.
Barcelona- THANK YOU for making me realize hostels are not what they’re cracked up to be, for letting me realize I was ready to come home, and for your beautiful hike in Montserrat.
Cinque Terre- THANK YOU for your simplicity, your beautiful hike views, and your amazing seafood.