I dreamt about Europe constantly, I planned with friends, I did extensive research… I was still in High School. And you know what they say about the best laid plans… The friends flaked out. I’ve learned that friends will usually flake out on trips… So little 18 year old me changed my plans, the little 18 year old me who had never travelled by herself, had never even stepped foot on a plane, made plans. I did the tour thing. I planned an ultimate European Contiki tour – 17 countries in 42 days.
I booked everything. And by me, I mean my travel agent. Because it was back then that I discovered that I love using a travel agent. I still do all my research. I still spend the time on all the cheap flight websites trying to figure out the best, cheapest way to get there. But then I go visit one of “our guys” as my family likes to call them. Because every time I have, they’ve found something better and cheaper than what I had been able to… so that little transaction fee they charge you? Definitely worth it because I still pay less than what I could have done on my own.
Everything was booked, everything was packed and it wasn’t until I was at the airport with my parents and my brothers that I realized that no one, not my family, not my friends, no one, except my mother, believed I would actually get on that plane. I’m shy, I’m quiet (at first), so I get it… but I’m also stubborn and I’d already paid for everything… there was no way I wasn’t getting on that plane.
So I did, I got on that plane, all by myself, I discovered I loved flying and I’ve since learned that when you fly by yourself, despite what my dad believes about the window seat, the aisle seat is infinitely better. (I don’t feel bad about getting up for them but I feel really guilty making people move for me).
So my first flight was the 8 hour direct flight from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to London, England’s Gatwick Airport. I didn’t want the stress of changing flights right off the bat so thank goodness for summer charter flights…
We landed. I discovered I loved landings more than any part of the flight (except turbulence, call me crazy but I love turbulence). I stood in a crazy long customs line with my shiny new passport. I followed the directions Contiki had given me about how to get to the hotel from Gatwick. I bought a train ticket into the city, switched to the Tube, changed lines three times and walked four blocks to my hotel – dragging my suitcase the entire way. I had done it; I had made it to London. And I’d done it all on my own.
And so began my travelling adventures…