The beauty of travel is that it can be another form of therapy for us, we put our money into counselling therapy, retail therapy, detox therapy and I know I’ve paid alot into the wine therapy fund over the years, but for me sometimes getting away and clearing my head in another country is incredibly healing.
The Summer backpack trip was the journey that allowed me to heal from a broken heart, I was meant to be travelling to Greece with a man I adored, but it wasn’t to be and faced with a failed relationship, no Greek holiday and a big blank expanse of summer with no plans ahead, I made a plan. I poured all my energy into research and spreadsheets and planning the Italian and Croatian adventures with friends, and boy did it do me good.
Once I came home from that, having spent weeks with my friends who had traveled solo this year, I was super inspired. It turned on a thought in my brain, why wait for someone to join me on a trip? What if I traveled solo? Completely by myself, where once the thought seemed scary it now became a huge goal.
The travel in front of me suddenly looked less like negotiating through a landscape of trying to find a friend to drag along with me from a sea of friends saving for weddings, houses, or having one annual trip with their boyfriends or husbands and no more girls trips, to a landscape where I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted without waiting for anyone. Just me, a passport and all that freedom. How excitingly empowering!
I wanted to start small, so I booked a flight to Copenhagen, booked into a hostel and ended up at a mad Danish band’s gig through a friend of a friend, then a 30th house party until 4am with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and the next day I almost took out a Dane with my bicycle during my first bike ride in over 10 years. Poor bloke.
One day with no plans, I pitched up for a free walking tour and instantly clicked with two solo female travellers from Iran by way of Canada and another from Singapore. There were mojitos, a sunset and alot of inspiring stories, these girls left convention behind (and worried mothers!) in their countries as they embarked on travelling thousands of miles from home. If they had any fears, you’d never know. They bubbled with enthusiasm for travelling solo, I felt buoyed and happy in their company.
The best bit? Sunday morning, at 11am I strolled into the National Museum in Copenhagen, just as it opened. Not only was it pretty empty, but I absolutely revelled in setting my own pace, reading and staring at things and strolling slowly through the things that caught my attention and whizzing past the things I found a bit dull. Not once was I craning my neck to see how far behind or in front of me my friends were, it was just me and I had all the time I wanted. It was indulgent bliss, where I absolutely geeked out on Viking history and the Danish past. Anyone been watching Vikings? SO good!
I took a boat trip through the narrow canals, past the famous sights and meandered the pretty cobbled streets feeling Autumn begin to hint at the winter ahead, I grabbed some dinner in a cafe on the harbour, watched the world go by and strolled back to the hostel and met the girls for drinks, picked up some new American friends and found out about the nightlife.
It was just the right dose of everything, of no-one and of people, of the art of hygge, of watching and of getting to know strangers. Trying new things and falling off bikes, of feeling completely content and happy solo.
The world is changing, there’s no doubt about that. We evolve, and sometimes when we get stuck in a rut or a bad break-up or a job we no longer want to get out of bed for, taking yourself out of your comfort zone and even your own country can provide a place and a mindset for healing, to be more open minded, to be kinder, braver and more confident. You’re never too old to surprise yourself.
- Return flights from London Luton with Ryan Air: £50.00
- Generator Hostel, Copenhagen: £25 per night (price depends on the season
- Walking tour: FREE!
- Boat Tour: £12