1. I’m gonna learn the language so I can fully immerse myself.
Until you find yourself hopelessly lost in the middle of a place like Lesbos island in Greece, trying to find your way to Sappho Square in Mytilini Town. But nobody speaks a damned word of English, and you’ll literally beg someone to point you in the right direction before you miss your bus, because so far you’ve only managed to master the greeting yassas (hello) despite having been in the country for two months already.
2. I will not get blackout drunk while alone in a foreign country.
Because that’s just an unbelievably stupid idea, and you know it. And then you find yourself making out with a Portuguese man with a funny mole on his chin, in some crowded bar in Athens, while your new hostel friends laugh and gently try to pry you away. You’ll thank them later.
3. I will embrace my aloneness.
You’ll love the solitude and general do-what-I-want attitude, until one evening you find yourself sitting at a café in a plaza in Dubrovnik, underneath the clock tower, watching friends and strangers mingle and laugh with hands clutched around white cups of cappuccino. And you’ll resist the urge to walk up to a table and say, “Hey, can I be your friend?” Because that’s actually not always a great way to make friends.
4. I will not call home crying to my parents.
Until you’re left immobilized with the world’s worst bladder infection after a week sailing the Adriatic Sea, just days before you’re supposed to fly home. And all you want to do is call Mom and have her take care of you and feed you chicken soup instead of sleeping 12-hour days in a loud hostel, in too much pain to even stand upright. Moms just have that touch.
5. I will take more time to reflect, and read, and write.
You’ll find serenity somewhere. You’ll love the gorgeous quiet of life on an olive farm, and beginning your mornings with homemade fig jam and honey from the beehives, and pruning olive trees, and working in the vineyard. And then you’ll spend evenings reading and writing, and loving every second of it, until you just want one week of letting loose and being a stupid, silly backpacking partier because, remember, NOBODY knows you here. Remember? You can take on any persona here.
6. I will stay in shape.
You’ll make a personal promise to download iPhone training apps and yoga video tutorials, and you’ll vow to hike at every possible opportunity or to take up running because it’s really the only way you can work off all those Neapolitan pizzas while travelling in Italy. But instead you tell yourself you walk everywhere while travelling anyway, so surely that must make up for being a lazy blob.
7. I will eat healthy.
You’ll keep this vow for longer than your others, until you realize eating a salad at every meal is a ridiculous notion when there’s a world of grilled meats and cheese pies and spicy curry literally outside your front door. The same goes for alcohol, or local drink specialties. One taste of that Inca Cola and you know you’ll have to drink it every day throughout the duration of your trip to Peru because you may never get to experience it again.
8. I will not fall in love.
Because it’s your time, dammit, and part of the reason you’re travelling solo is because you’re single, and you want to do this while you’re unburdened, unattached, floating free like a balloon in a small child’s hand. Until again you meet that handsome German stranger, and one week later you’re curled up in their arms like a toy poodle.
9. I will fall in love.
And then you decide maybe falling in love on the road isn’t so bad, until it’s time to part ways. And then suddenly it’s, “Holy crap, visas are really hard to figure out,” and, besides, what happens when you spend too much time together and the magic fizzles out quicker than an open bottle of diet cola?
10. I will not be afraid to put myself out there and meet new people.
In actuality, walking into a hostel bar and introducing yourself to a whole crew of new people you’ve never met before but who somehow seem to all know one another is absolutely the most terrifying, panic-inducing thing you’ve ever had to do. And you may require a tall glass of vodka beforehand.
11. I will find myself.
Yeah, you’ll find yourself. You’ll find yourself understanding that travel is quite easy, and even if you don’t make any grandiose self-discovery statements, you’re gonna have a damned good time trying to do so anyway. At least before you head back home to your corner of the universe, back inside the cube or in front of the computer, and you’ll hardly believe you’ve done so much, but the Instagrams prove you did. And then you’ll realize, “I need to do that again.” Over and over again, because travelling solo becomes the addiction, and it’s not a bad habit to have.