Hi Folks! I am now writing you from the very last stop on my trip. I just got to Budapest, Hungary yesterday, and wow is it beautiful. Since my last post I have been in two other amazing cities, first Munich and then Prague. Both cities brought new and exciting adventures on this trip – and both have really taught me the importance of doing things for yourself.
I could just talk to you about all the great history and sites of Munich, or how much I love Prague, but there are more personal matters I will discuss. In my last post I mentioned the importance of building relationships with the group you travel with, and that still rings true. But I am learning that in order to keep those relationships positive, you have to remember to do things for yourself. You do not always have to follow the crowd or be with someone else.
Sometimes the greatest travel experiences come in the moments you spend alone.
My favorite day in Munich was our bike tour of the city. Munich had me down the first few days, just because it was cold and rainy. I felt like I was not having a good time. I also have a tendency to let other people’s negative energy become my own and I needed to make myself stay positive. It is easy to complain, but why complain when you have such a wonderful opportunity that not all others have?
Anyway, the bike tour was something I had been looking forward to and, prior to Prague, it was one of the greatest days I’ve had on my trip. I love riding bikes and I felt elated and free even though the sun stopped shining and rain was coming down. I let myself soak up the experience rather than listening to the outside noise and opinions of others. Even though I was with a group during that tour, I felt like I was on my own and I loved that feeling.
Toward the end of Munich, we were about halfway through our trip and travel was starting to bring out the worst in me and I did not want to show that side to everyone. I just thought, “What do I do? How do I get myself out of this mindset?” I was terrified of snapping at my friends. So, I took some time to go out on my own, do a little retail therapy, and what do you know? My mood was completely changed. Basically, what I’m saying is don’t forget how important that alone time is anytime you are travelling. After my alone time, I felt rejuvenated and ready to venture on to Prague.
Prague is my favorite city in the world and I could write millions of posts about it. The beautiful Prague castle, the Charles Bridge, the Lennon wall etc. This was my second visit to this city, and I probably told anyone who would listen how much I loved it. All I could say on our walking tour was “Don’t you love this?” and “How beautiful is this place?” I was probably the happiest I had been in a while. The first few days were amazing, I saw sites I had already seen and discovered new things I had not noticed during my last visit.
Unfortunately by our last day, in my favorite city, I was down. I was moody and upset, annoyed even. Maybe I was homesick, maybe I was ready to come back to San Diego, or maybe all the togetherness was getting to me. Whatever the case I knew I could not spend my last day in Prague in my room, angry with my friends or myself, for no real reason at all. This was one of those moments I needed to have a personal day – a “treat yourself” kind of day, as some may call it.
I took a while to get out and about but I ended up in old town square, sitting at one of the cafes, staring across at all the people who were watching the famous astronomical clock. I ordered myself a refreshing drink and enjoyed an entire pizza to myself. It was the best feeling ever. I people watched and spent some quality time with myself. After my solo date, I headed to the Franz Kafka museum – a good friend recommended I visit there; he told me I would love it, and he was right. I couldn’t imagine spending my time at that museum with anyone but just me. That day alone, exploring Prague, has been my favorite day, hands down.
The moral of this story is this: It is OK to be alone. Not only is it OK, but I recommend it for your sanity. Travelling is fun and sharing your experience with others is important, but in order to avoid rough waters with others, you have to make sure you take a minute to step back and rejuvenate yourself. Do not feel like you always have to follow the crowd; don’t say yes if it is something you don’t want to do or somewhere you want to go. Don’t let other people’s opinions about a particular experience become your opinions or influence your experience.
As the end of my trip approaches, this may be the most important thing I have learned – to take moments to do things for you. Do what is going to make you happy. Those may end up being your favorite days.
Chandler Alford is pursuing a master’s degree in communication. This summer she is on a faculty-led program to Barcelona, Grindelwald, Munich, Prague and Budapest