Steve loved train travel and in 2016 he went overland from Ipswich to Japan and back again. He didn’t like flying, he thought it was an unsustainable form of transport so he used trains and boats to make that long journey across Asia to visit our son in Japan.
We planned to do a similar journey in 2017 but Steve became ill and travel was impossible. As Steve lay dying, slipping out of consciousness, I made a commitment to him that I was going to travel in his footsteps overland through China and Russia. I planned to take the journal Steve wrote with me on that journey.
For 60 days I traveled solo covering 20,000 miles, visiting Azerbaijan, Dubai, Japan, China and finally catching the Trans-Siberian train to Moscow, a staggering 6 full days on the train! You can read all about my adventures here www.bit.ly/elenes60days.
When I look back on that trip, I was full up with grief but I was also determined, on a mission. I ran this script in my head, I need to travel by myself to show I can live in the world without my rock, my life, my soul mate. If I can manage that, I know I will be able to carry on living.
I survived, you could say I flourished. I found people to talk to, to connect with, to share tears with. My impression (OK somewhat limited, I know) was that people around the world were caring and empathetic. I had one of my best hugs from a Chinese market trader in Beijing. I guess my story of undying love is universal.
On the first day of my adventure, a feeling of apprehension swept over me as I waved goodbye to my sister in law at Heathrow. As I walked away from her towards the check-in desk I wondered, “What have I done?” I’d never bought a one-way airline ticket before! It was a fleeting concern because I the sparkly top I was wearing set off the security alarms and I was soon caught up in body scans and bag checks. My fear behind me, my journey truly had begun.
Looking back on my trip now, it’s hard to believe that every train journey, every connection, every transfer, every pick-up worked like magic.
Was someone looking out for me?
Give it a Try
Plan a solo trip. It doesn’t have to be too far. Maybe a day trip to London to visit an exhibition could be your first step. If you’d like to go somewhere further afield, get help from a travel adviser. I’ve used Travel with Jules.
People often think that it’s more expensive to use a travel company but agents can often find better deals. Also with an independent travel company, you have a person to contact when you’re travelling. My solo holiday this year to Sicily was one of the best experiences ever. I’ll be writing about that trip soon.
Have you ever had a solo holiday? I’d love to hear your experiences. Please write in the comments below.