Harrisburg Magazine March 2022

Page 24

Postcards From…/Steven G. Williams

Postcards From…

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Women of Excellence: Solo Traveling

he theme for the March issue of Harrisburg Magazine is Women of Excellence. As a reader of this magazine and because Postcards From is not on the first page, I’m sure you picked up on that by now. But in case you opened this issue and landed right on my column, now you know. I might also add that all women are excellent. Shoutout to you ladies for holding down society! However, I am not a woman as I’m sure you guessed by my headshot. So, I reached out to one of the most excellent, well-travelled women I know, (since this is a travel column), my sister, to provide us with some insights from her travels for this month’s issue – especially regarding solo traveling. My sister’s name is Danielle, and this is what she had to say: What inspired you to travel? And why Solo? I was fortunate as a kid. My parents took my siblings and I on family vacations every summer and even considered our ideas when deciding where to go. I’m beyond grateful for those experiences. It provided me with exposure to a world beyond central Pennsylvania and that piqued my interest in other people and cultures. So far, I have been to too many states to list, but internationally I have traveled to Germany, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Japan, and France. I never intended to travel solo, it just happened to work out that way. All my brothers studied abroad during college, and I felt that I was missing out on a fundamental experience. So, with a lot of help from my dad, we devised a plan for me to go to Germany during the summer before my senior year of college. That turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

What was your process for deciding on where you’d go? I started learning German in middle school and stuck with it through college. In high school, my classmates and I won a trip to Germany because of a school project. Then during college, I became good friends with my roommate who was a German foreign exchange student. It’s fair to say I have a slight obsession with that country. So naturally, I planned my first solo trip to backpack around Germany. Also, I would have an emergency contact there; I understood the language and culture enough to get by and I knew what to expect from my previous trip.

22 HARRISBURG MAGAZINE MARCH 2022

What did you take away from your trip? I learned so much during my first solo trip. In those few weeks, I became much more confident and independent. I did feel homesick after a few days, but the sense of accomplishment navigating a foreign country and overcoming loneliness shaped and reassured me. That trip gave me a lot of time for introspection. It was later that summer that I came out to my family and friends. And honestly, without that trip I don’t think I would have had the courage or self-assurance to do so. What is the best travel advice you ever received? Solo traveling is great but if it isn’t for you and you would rather travel with friends, go on a weekend trip with them first. You’ll learn what your idea of a vacation is compared to theirs. Sometimes best friends do not make great travel partners. What is the best piece of travel advice you’d give? Be flexible. Schedule a few tours or make note of places you want to visit ahead of time. But always leave room to just walk around and get lost. Anthony Bourdain said it best, “Plans should be ephemeral, so be prepared to move away from them.” Also, if you have money to spare, get an international phone plan. Where to next? I am hoping to go back to Portugal soon. Lisbon was such a unique city with great food and people. I would love to explore more outside of the city and make my way up to Porto. Also on my bucket list are the Faroe Islands to see the Northern Lights. 7 Steven Williams is an avid traveler, amateur cook, and fantasy author. He serves on the Harrisburg School Board and is the Associate Director for the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife Danielle.


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