Welcome back to Women Who Wander. This series focuses encouraging women to seek out solo travel. Empowering and inspiring both seasoned Solo Travellers and those who have yet to venture out on their own. The response to this series has been amazing and I just want to thank you all for embracing it. Hopefully many more Solo Travel stories to come. This week is Cassandra with her first solo adventure Couchsurfing in Munich
Originally a Virginia gal, Cassandra left the comfort of the United States and moved to Spain for two years to teach English. She’s now back in her hometown, and trying to create her unconventional lifestyle. She believes in big dreams, a whole lot of love, and is a street food aficionado! The Quirky Pineapple is a lifestyle and travel blog that focuses on stepping out of our comfort zones in travel, women empowerment, and international couples who found love abroad. Cassandra hopes to inspire women to chase the adventure, whatever that may look like for you. You can find her blog at thequirkypineapple.com
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When I decided to plan my first solo trip, I was terrified. I wanted to feel like all of the strong, resilient, and inspiring women I read about in numerous blog posts. The ones that talked about solo female travel and how it changed their lives! I wanted to be like them, conquering and dominating the world, and doing it alone! The honest truth was that I had never traveled alone before in my life! I was scared, worried, and felt extremely self-conscious.
I was living in Spain at the time, and traveling home for the holidays ended up being very expensive. Instead, my family and I agreed that I would stay in Europe for the holidays and use it as a time to travel. In the end, my aunt and I decided to surprise my parents and sisters with a ticket home, but not before my first solo trip Couchsurfing in Munich, Germany!
Before my trip, I researched EXTENSIVELY. I think I spent hours and hours scrolling through Pinterest and reading other blog posts, Google, Wikipedia, and a lot of TripAdvisor reviews. Since it was my first time traveling solo and to a country where I didn’t really speak the language (although I think most Germans speak a little bit of English), I was so nervous! I decided not to book a hostel and give my try at Couchsurfing in Munich. Yes, y’all, my parents were not the happiest! First, I told them I’d be traveling alone, then I told them I wasn’t getting a hotel or hostel room, and lastly I told them I’d be sleeping on someone’s couch. That left them feeling even more worried. But, I was determined to make this solo trip a good one, and wanted to meet people along the way.
Heading Solo to Munich
The day of my flight, I was jittery and extremely anxious! I think because I didn’t have someone to bounce my excitement off of, I made myself even more excited and nervous by holding it all in. The flight from Madrid to Munich was short, but I felt awe-struck. This will probably sound strange, but I think I had on “rose coloured” glasses because of how new everything felt to me! I’ve traveled before, but always with a friend or a group of people. When you’ve got people around to distract you on the flight, getting to your lodging, and bouncing ideas and jokes back and forth, you don’t feel as alone. But, when traveling solo, you’ve got yourself and your thoughts, and your senses are on high alert.
I struck up conversations on the airplane with the woman sitting next to me, eager to make connections. I spoke to the man sitting in front of me, trying to learn about the landscape we saw, flying into Munich. Traveling alone made me more excited to talk to people just so I wasn’t feeling too lonely! After arriving, I made it to the couchsurfers’s house that I’d be staying at. I was alone at first, since he was at work. The other girl who was staying at the house was gone. It made me feel less nervous about meeting this person and trying to get through the awkward-ness of hello’s and introductions. I made myself comfortable and rested after an early flight!
Feeling VERY Alone
The first hour or so, I took the time to freshen up at the couch surfers house and look up some places to eat. I felt very alone, very scared, and really unsure if I should even leave the house. Not because I was scared, or thought that I’d get lost, but I think I’d stick out like a sore thumb and everyone would know I was alone! I thought I would look like a loser. So, I stayed in the house a bit longer than expected. But finally pushed myself past the anxiety and ventured out on my own. That first step outside was really scary! I didn’t have a plan, I thought I’d just walk around and take in the Christmas markets and see what I could find. I LOVED IT.
Taking my time exploring the streets of Munich, I took in the architecture, the spirit, and observing people. Since it was during the Christmas season, there were Christmas markets everywhere. I walked slowly through the market. Taking photos of food, indulging in Gluhwein, and admiring all of the trinkets I saw. If I was cold, I walked into a store and browsed. When I was hungry, I ordered a traditional bratwurst! Although I felt alone, and still unsure if making a solo trip was right. I couldn’t help thinking about how nice it felt to go at my own pace and reflect on things myself. There wasn’t a nagging friend, to tell me to pick up the pace, a group of people I had to round-up, it was just me!
Couchsurfing All The Way!
It’s true that when you’re with other people, you’re less likely to strike up conversations and meet others. It’s also true that when you’re alone, you end up feeling a bit self-conscious. When I met my couch surfing host, I was taken aback by his kindness and willingness to help! We spent the rest of the weekend together, meeting his friends, sightseeing, and learning about each other’s cultures and languages. I was on edge, at first, since this was my first time couchsurfing ever, let alone couchsurfing in Munich. But after meeting and talking, I could tell that I had nothing to worry about.
I don’t think if I had decided to stay in a hostel in Munich, my experience would have been the same. Nor would it had been the same if I traveled with another person. I was a lot more open to meeting different people, trying new things, and letting my worries and fears go (within reason). Having the cultural exchange with my couch surfing host was a whole new experience for me! The hospitality him and his friends showed me made me fall more in love with Munich and the German language! I was hooked, and I wanted to have more couchsurfing experiences. I even returned to Munich with my friends the following year, but the experience wasn’t the same.
Embrace Solo Travel
If you have the opportunity to couch surf, and aren’t too wary of it, I highly recommend the experience. Traveling solo and being open to all of the opportunities it presented me showed me how kind people can be. I made connections and learned from different people. I felt like those independent, strong, and resilient women I followed on Instagram and blogs. Who were chasing down their adventure, solo, and rocking it. Embracing the awkward and self-conscious feelings made me realise that traveling should push us out of our comfort zones a bit more.
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