The consistency of our thoughts, assumptions and opinions is tested on a regular basis; sometimes we have the grace of getting the trials delivered in a gentle and subtle way, and sometimes our delusionally firmly built beliefs are being pounded with a heavy hammer in order for us to learn how life works, and the quality of having a malleable personality is a true advantage.
I was always under the impression that a person who does anything alone is “a weirdo” or something similarly superficial and almost derogative. To me, back then, particularly the idea of traveling alone seemed nonsensical. Why would anyone go anywhere entirely alone? I was thinking to myself, isn’t there at least one person in your life who you’d share the travel experience with? What do you do on a trip… alone? I mean, I’ve had the exact opposite experience – I have made tens of thousands of kilometers with my husband on our road trips and those are some of the best memories I have ever had, and I was unable to comprehend the joy of doing all of that alone.
How does one end up on Svalbard, actually?
And then, a sudden shift happened. One of the biggest discoveries of my entire existence was finding out that I can venture out alone and not need anyone to feel comfortable and to be able to enjoy the trip. Five years ago, I felt a clear urge to visit a completely unknown place, seen before only in documentaries which depict the fantastic world of the High Arctic. Living in continental Norway and having Svalbard, an archipelago approx 1300 km away from the North Pole, relatively close and accessible, made the idea of visiting it very real. The excursion turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences in my life, and it had opened the doors for the urge to do it again, more often and even further.
Because the liberty of tailoring the entire experience according only to my requirements felt like a true privilege. Besides me, there was no one who had any say in it. I did not need to consider anyone else’s opinions, moods, capacities or anything similar; I only needed to follow my own needs, whichever they might be. That felt good.
Bravery? No, not exactly.
I often hear from friends, particularly women, that they support my idea of traveling alone and would love to try it as well. They see the pictures on my social media channels and get inspired, and I get a lot of compliments and support.
What I also often hear is that I am “brave” for doing that. But, there is nothing brave about it. I do not do anything out of this world, wild and beautifully unpredictable and spontaneous.
My trips are planned up to the tiniest details. I know exactly where I will be every day, at any given moment.
I know exactly where I am going. I learn as much as possible about the destination, its culture, history, people, geography and I am religiously obsessed with the idea of knowing exactly where I am, as I do not allow myself to get lost. I often hear from the locals that I know better how much it could take to go to a certain point than themselves (it is called “flattery” and I don’t believe that, but I love the confidence I gain when I know exactly where I am).
The only thing that scares me is living in a fear of fear. By thinking that one should not go somewhere because something can happen and to instinctively shut yourself off and kill your dreams and wishes just because you are scared looks like special kind of mental torture to which no one should expose themselves.
I recommend it, truly.
I am biased towards nature’s wonders and atypical scenery, and my solo trips are, in a way, like expeditions because they consist of tightly packed continuous and strenuous activities outside. They are designed to drain me physically and fill me up to the maximum with my love for the outdoors.
Each year, I am trying to up my game and do something I did not do before.
Kayaking among the icebergs with sizes ranging from a child’s fist to a large house that I did a month ago in Ilulissat, Greenland, the city on the throat of the most productive and active glacier of the entire northern hemisphere, Sermeq kujalleq, was one of such experiences and by doing that I have crossed one of major bucket list items.
But, besides walking/running/climbing/horseback riding/kayaking…. through the scenery from other planets, there are lots of secondary benefits that come with it. By doing it, you will:
- learn a lot about yourself, your behavior, your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, your resilience and how your appearance affects the experience – besides becoming a mother, literally nothing in my life humbled me more than being temporary integrated among the people who live in settlements on the verge of wilderness in extreme environment
- train your abilities to plan and follow through your ideas; each time you deliver the plan on a satisfactory level, which is my number one goal, you will feel particularly pleased with yourself and, logically, want more
- begin to understand the difference between daydreaming and being realistic when it comes to expectations on executing the daily plans – you will know exactly what you can or cannot how much it would take it to do it, and identify and reject entirely any wishful thinkings
- start to develop and consequently nurture the will for organizing such activities and realize that you enjoy the learning about the trip and planning as much as you enjoy the trip itself
- realize how picky you are – you will weigh a lot and think hard about tagging anyone else with you; I got a lot of requests and even though I like the people who wanted to join me, these days spent alone in the middle of nowhere are just for my selfish self who above anything craves to be alone, even for a week each year
So far, I have done four such #metime trips. My plan is to describe these landing parties and serve them here, along with tips and suggestions for those who seek inspiration to do the same in these places.
I will write about my solo trips – there were two trips to Svalbard, followed by visiting the Faroe islands and the most recent one, Greenland. I can promise you straight facts, extremely biased impressions about local nature and culture as I adore these places, and a large amount of footage taken with my camera, drone and GoPro camera which is made with love and utmost respect for the nature around me.