Last weekend, I took the Eurostar train to Brussels, Belgium, to meet some other study abroad girls for our first-weekend trip outside of London. The tickets were more expensive than we would have liked, but nearly a hundred euros was the consequence of late booking.
I saved about $30 by taking the train to Brussels by myself two hours before the other girls arrived. I had never traveled to another country by myself.
In London, I was more fearful of missing my train due to congested Underground traffic than the idea of traveling solo. I have always wanted to be a solo -female traveler. I didn't develop friendships with other travelers until fairly recently, so the idea of traveling as an adult has been a solitary dream to me.
I thought I would hit the ground running alone in Brussels, but my anxiety had other travel plans. The anxiety started to build as the Eurostar traveled over 100 miles-per-hour nearly 82 yards under the English Channel an hour into the journey.
I followed the other train passengers into the unheated Brussels-Midi/Zuid train station. I sat down on a cold bench to clutch my backpack and plan my route to the hostel. Taxi or Metro?
I hated that I was too cowardly to take the Metro by myself at night. I signaled a taxi and sat quietly in the backseat until the wheels stopped down the street from my hostel. It was pouring.
I grew up traveling alone with my mother, and I've traveled on the Tube alone in London many times. I've even stayed in hostels before. Yet, I was overwhelmed by the idea that something horrible would happen to me while alone in Brussels.
I believe women should have the right to travel solo and feel safe on their own at night, but I understand that this isn't how the world works. It can be very dangerous to travel alone.
Once checked in at the hostel reception and bar, I plopped down on a barstool with my new set of bunk bed sheets and rented towel. I realized that I had made it there safely regardless of my anxiety expecting the worst. It occurred to me that I don't have to be fearless to travel alone. I might be more capable of solo travel than I had expected.
My friends arrived safely, and a little less wet, a few hours later. I was feeling adjusted and excited by the idea of exploring the city, and I knew that one day I'd be able to do it alone because of my train ride there.