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Free as a bird

Walking: SCX Image ID: 1248932 by A2td © SXC.hu

by Mariska Regtvoort
Photos: SXC.hu

Have you ever wondered how it would be to travel alone? How it would be if you could go wherever you want and do whatever you like? That feeling of freedom has always attracted me. Above all, it sounds exciting! Would I manage on my own, would I stand being alone and what will I do if something happens? Nevertheless, it felt like a big step, but one I wanted to take.

After all the worried words of my parents, the advice that I got to be careful in this big and evil world and the surprised, but supporting reactions of my friends, I started to arrange my trip. I decided to go interrailing. I like travelling by train, and while travelling with my backpack can easily meet other people. Although I like being on my own, I’m a social person and meeting people during travel is important to me.

So, I bought the ticket and a Lonely Planet, targeted cities to go to, packed my bags and took the train to my first destination, Berlin. In the train I felt strange but also a bit proud of myself.

Even though it disappeared soon, the first evening I felt a bit uncomfortable, especially when I went for a dinner. I experienced that having a dinner alone is not very pleasant. Normally, it is a social activity and it didn’t feel comfortable sitting alone at a table. Yet, considering it’s cheaper, most of the days I bought something on the street or cooked myself a meal.

Folded map/Image ID: 1076818 by Virsh/© SXC.hu

After dinner I met two girls in the dormitory room of the hostel. They were from the US doing an internship in Germany and liked to travel in their weekends. They invited me to join them to go to a shisha bar. The girls were very nice and interesting, and we had a lot of fun. Now the uncomfortable feeling was gone and I was sure I made the right decision.

The next day I took a guided walking tour through Berlin. It’s such an interesting city! Nevertheless, I still had the feeling I was a bit strange, being alone on holiday. But instead of a lot of people at home, nobody here seemed to think it was something strange or special. In contrary, I was by far not the only one. I met a lot of young people that were also travelling alone, and to them it seemed the most normal thing in the world.

I stayed in hostels. I always took a dormitory room with more people as it was the cheapest and greatest way to meet people. A big advantage of travelling alone is that there’s always a place for you in the hostels, so most of the time it’s not necessary to make a reservation, even during high season. With two or more people that can be difficult.

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