My First Solo Trip – Italy (Part 1)

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

– John Augustus Shedd 

This was it. It was finally time. After months of planning, researching, and dreaming, I was about to embark on an adventure that I had been craving and needing for years now. Not just a typical “vacation” to get away, although, yes, this stay at home mommy was needing a break, but that was not the purpose or intent of this trip. I was about to set sail (or hop a plane) and was about to leave behind my safe harbor. I was about to take my first ever solo trip. Across the world. Thousands of miles away. Away from my family. My comforts. My what had become to me….my “lifelines.” 

I needed to go on this trip. My SOUL needed it more than anything. 

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my soon to be solo trip. I briefly mentioned that there were reasons as to why I needed to go on this solo venture, but I did not explain why I was doing this. 

I feel like the “why” is important. Sometimes we don’t even know why. Often times, for me, to travel is simply because it makes me feel alive. It’s intoxicating. Exhilarating. 

Maybe some of you who have gone on a solo trip can understand. Your “why” might not be the same as mine, but in some way I can almost guarantee that you can relate on some level. Maybe you’ve gone through something really difficult in your life, as I had. 

A few years ago, after my husband Josh and I had our first baby, I experienced something very painful and scary. A month after our daughter was born, I was completely blindsided by postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It rocked and shook our world. It was a traumatic time – a mountain that I didn’t think I was going to be able to conquer. Thankfully, I owe my healing that I finally found, I owe that to God. But I also know that my husband was crucial in my healing. He fought alongside me and held up the sword in battle when my arms became too heavy. He is indeed my hero. He never abandoned me. I thank God for him. Because of this painful time, although the PPD “only” lasted about 4 months, it became a life changing experience for both Josh and I. Looking back now, we see how it changed our marriage. When you go through a battle with someone, there is a bond, a comradeship, that you can’t ever fully put into words. It ended up being a beautiful thing for our marriage, and our love for each other grew tenfold. 

My family and friends were there for me and helped me get through my darkest days. 

And so, after going through something so intense, traumatic, and painful … after that event is over, you find yourself still reeling after it’s over. You find that yes, good things DID come from something so terrible. 

But, my friends, it also leaves you feeling wounded. Damaged. Broken. Traumatized. Fearful. 

Perhaps you have experienced an event in your life where it left you feeling this way. If you have, I am truly sorry. It is not easy to move on after such a trying time . . . but, along the way, I’ve learned that, no matter what, we have to keep moving forward. 

PPD lied to me while I was in the thick of it, and it has also lied to me since finding my “healing”. It’s been a journey. 

One of the lies it made me believe is that I failed. I malfunctioned. 

But something I kept noticing in my journaling, is that it made me feel like I was incapable. 

And so, in a way, I felt like I needed to do something to challenge myself . . . almost to prove to myself again that I AM CAPABLE. That I am not weak, but, that I am strong. 

Taking myself completely out of my comfort zone and challenging myself to the very core . . . traveling by myself, across the vast ocean, to a foreign country to a land where I did not speak the language . . . yep, that sounded like just the challenge I needed. 

I needed to believe in myself again. 

So, I chose Italy. 

And here it was. Time to go. April 9th, 2018. Departure day. 

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I have struggled quite a bit with anxiety since going through PPD, and it’s a struggle that comes and goes. And so, I had had my doubts, and shed several tears in the days leading up to my solo trip to Italy. All the ‘What If’s’ that played in my head were beyond count. And so many times, I even said out loud to Josh, “I can’t do this. Let’s just cancel the trip.” 

Don’t cancel the trip!

It was a Monday, and my husband drove me to DFW. Along the way, I was debating whether or not I wanted him to come inside with me and help me get checked in for my flight. Part of me wanted him there to help me with at least this part, and to be with me for as long as possible, but I also knew that this might make saying goodbye even harder – it would prolong the goodbye. 

At the last minute, I told him to just go ahead and drop me off. This was one of the best decisions I made for this trip. Josh had suggested that it might be even more helpful for me if I do this whole thing ALL by myself, even from the checking in point. And even in that moment, as I hugged him tightly beside our car at the curb of the airport, I felt a courage fill me to my core. Was I scared? Nervous. Oh yes! But I had a belief that I could do this. And what a feeling that is that we must cling to when we do believe in ourselves! Those moments are so important. 

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I waved goodbye, and walked in the airport, and thus began the start of my solo journey. 

***

To Travel Without Anxiety . . . If Only

In less than a couple months, I will be going on my first solo trip. First solo trip. Ever. Of course, I’ve flown by myself before domestically, but I’ve had friends and family waiting for me at my destination. Not so this time. I will be crossing the pond, flying internationally by myself. If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I have traveled internationally before, but I’ve had my husband with me. So this time is really different.
I will be going to a place I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little girl. Italy! I find myself constantly daydreaming about my future adventure and sometimes the excitement is so high it almost makes my chest hurt!

 
But, at the same time, there are days when I start REALLY thinking about this solo journey. I think about all the logistics. The step by step process of getting from my house to the long plane rides to reaching my final destination. I start thinking of everything, all the details, and then all of the “what if’s”. I soon find myself overwhelmed with a thing called anxiety. And there are days when I say out loud, “I can’t do this. What am I thinking?” And then I say to myself, “I’m just going to have to cancel the trip.” And I feel defeated before the adventure has even begun. It’s in those moments that I don’t have the confidence in myself that I CAN do this. Doubt and worry, oh my, they can really mess with us and interfere with our lives…steal our peace and happiness. Oh yeah, and fear. That’s a big one that I feel like I wrestle with a lot.

 
I am being honest here…I am not sugarcoating how travel can be, at least for me sometimes. I love traveling just about more than anything in this world, but I have travel anxiety. General anxiety. So it makes it a little difficult sometimes to enjoy the journey. Maybe some of you out there can relate. We know all the motivational quotes out there about enjoying the journey, but when you have anxiety it can interfere with what you truly want. And what I want IS to not dread the part of making it to my destination and just being happy and relieved when I get there, but I want an overwhelming sense of peace and calm to wash over my entire being ON the journey itself. I want to savor every step of the process that it takes of getting there. I want excitement and adrenaline to rush through my veins on the journey, even while flying (which makes me anxious, like most people!) and not just to have those feelings when I’ve arrived. For some people, it might come easy to do this, but for me it’s not so easy. It is something that has frustrated me and has hindered me at times from fully enjoying a trip. What I find myself doing is being two steps ahead in my mind, instead of being present and fully in the moment.

 
So, what is the point of writing all of this? I know it’s a different, more vulnerable post than I’ve written on this blog.

 
I write this to say that travel is not always pretty and glamorous as we all can make it appear by the pictures we take – the postcard worthy pictures. Those of us who travel know this. All the mishaps that can and do happen along the way. But it’s all part of the adventure right? (I nudge myself to believe it as I say it!) We know travel can be stressful and exhausting, and can bring out a lot of emotions, both positive and negative.

 
BUT…when we or I find myself being overwhelmed with anxiety, I have to remember why I am traveling in the first place.

 
I CHOSE to go on this solo trip, and I’ve been wanting this for myself for a long time. For various reasons, of which I won’t explain all of it now, maybe for another post, but here is one reason why. I want to grow in my self-confidence – to fully believe in myself again, because somewhere along the way after going through some things, I have lost that. I need to believe and know that “I am capable.” And so, stretching myself and getting out of my comfort zone and doing something that I believe is hard and that would be like climbing Mt. Everest – I know that it will be nourishment to my soul. To accomplish this….I can only imagine the overwhelming feeling of how proud I will feel! I know this will be so good for me.

 
And, of course, I am going on this journey because wanderlust is in my veins, too. Life is a gift. This world is filled with wonders, and I want to see and experience it all. Gratitude, contentment and wonder washes over my heart, mind, and soul when I am in a new place. To hear a foreign language and not understand a word that is spoken but being enamored by its sound. To appreciate a different culture and to just sit there and “people watch” and in those moments you just feel so alive. Traveling makes me feel alive. It always has. It awakens me. Fills me with passion for life.

 
So I must remember these things. I am afraid to travel solo, yes, but one of my favorite quotes inspires me to keep on dreaming and to not press the “cancel” button. Oh, the regret I would feel if I did that! “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” (George Addair). I will not let fear have a say; it will not keep me from my dreams.

 

And, I will end with another favorite quote of mine;

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

What about you? I would love to hear from you guys about your traveling experiences! Ever dealt with travel anxiety? What kept you going and what kept you from canceling the trip?

And I would love to hear about any solo trips you’ve been on and what that was like! Feel free to comment below or send us a message!

Much Love,

Lindsey