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EXPLORE EUROPE

5 Myths about travelling alone New ESTIEMers often face a tough dilemma: ‘I want to apply for this event by myself, but I am afraid to go alone’. Indeed, going on your own to an unknown country can be a daunting endeavour. Yet there is no reason to worry! Read these 5 myths about travelling alone.

Bart van Eijden

Local Group Eindhoven

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After having travelled solo around the world twice myself, and having met numerous of people on the road, I can safely say that the first person to regret going alone is still to be found. While it indeed brings some disadvantages, many people agree that the pros far outweigh the cons. For this reason, I believe everyone should at least once try to travel alone. Whether you are going a couple of days earlier to an ESTIEM event or just taking a short break from university, these are 5 things you will find out not to be true: 1. YOU WILL BE ALONE The first myth about solo travel is that it means you will have to spend a period of solitude and isolation. None of that is true; it is quite frankly the opposite. Since their appearance, global online communities such as Internet, Facebook or Couchsurfing have made it impossible that you will ever have to feel alone, no matter where you are. Today’s world is a different one from perhaps twenty years ago. We are the freedom generation, and we are able to connect across borders more than any other generation ever did before. Why would anyone ever feel alone? Apart from those online communities, I have experienced that for some reason people have more sympathy for people travelling alone than for those travelling in a group. This way you are more likely to be invited to someone’s house, invited to attend one’s wedding or join in for a nice family meal. You will realise more than in any other way that there are loving and warm-hearted people all around the globe. On top, when being alone, it also becomes more natural to team up with other travellers and travel together for a few days or weeks. After buying my own car in Australia, I decided to take on a few backpackers to split up the costs for petrol. Going up the coast, we met several other travellers driving their car. In the end, we spent a few weeks driving up the coast together, sleeping in our cars every night in beautiful remote places. But after a couple of weeks, when we decided to continue on our own paths I was also happy to be alone for once. Closer to home, I often go on trips alone to discover parts of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey. With the great hospitality of many families

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and students welcoming me, I was able to meet really awesome people. With many of them I still keep in contact, maybe one day we will meet again…

2. IT’S MORE DIFFICULT Rather look at it another way: it’s not always easy to travel in a group. The more people involved, the harder it becomes to satisfy each individual’s wishes, preferences and interests. Aligning all these elements is more time-consuming and will inevitably lead to people having to make concessions. I think everyone has experienced how city tours with a group are not always the most efficient way to get to see a city (even though it still is a lot of fun!). When alone, logistics become much more simple and faster. No need to book multiple train tickets when there are only a few seats left, no need to wait one extra day, and no need to plan how to visit all those places that everybody else wants to see. Without a companion, it gets easier to just go with the flow and decide as you go. There is no need to discuss it first.

3. IT’S BORING What is more boring than not chasing your dreams, just because no one else wanted to join you for a trip? Last January I randomly went to Bosnia alone, spending a few nights Couchsurfing and staying in a hostel in the beautiful city of Sarajevo. One morning I thought about going for a short walk around town exploring the area. After having walked the entire afternoon, I decided to rest and have a cup of tea in a recommended place. Looking back, I see I stayed there for four hours and ended up visiting a jazz night bar with a large group of people whom I met at that tea place. That day, I did not feel bored for a single moment. Okay, perhaps you will find yourself bored at some point. I was once in Georgia for two days, in rainy weather, all alone in the only accommodation around town that seemed to be open off-season. There was no heating, no place to hang out in the evening and the hostel manager did not feel like socialising at all. I am not sure if this would have been different though by having any travel companion. Going off-season indeed means you are less likely to meet other travellers, but on the other hand I knew about this beforehand. I came prepared and used my time to start writing some

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ESTIEM Magazine | Spring 2015 | Food from Soil to Shelf  

ESTIEM Magazine | Spring 2015 | Food from Soil to Shelf  

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