Article & Photography by Stephanie Perkins | Owl Staff
My sights were set on the radiant locale of Playa del Carmen, Mexico while planning my last vacation. With my boyfriend by my side in such an exotic setting, I was bound to have a great time. Unfortunately, we ended our two-year relationship within weeks of us finalizing our resort reservations.
With my vacation time set in stone at work, I had to figure out where I would go. I knew I wanted to keep my potential trip international and that I would most likely be traveling alone. My grandmother always prided herself on our Scottish heritage and I had not been to Europe since I was a teenager. After booking my flight to Edinburgh and informing others of my plan, I received mixed reactions.
Many of my friends and family were thrilled to hear that I was taking such an exciting trip. Once I mentioned I was traveling alone, their excitement turned to worry. The thought of a young woman traveling alone frightened them, regardless of how well I’ve traveled on my own over the last decade.
Although many of them sounded like they had seen Taken too many times, I tried my best to put them at ease. I was slightly anxious to be all-alone in a foreign place, but my excitement to be exploring new places outweighed that feeling immensely.
After arriving to Scotland, I made my way to the hotel. I definitely felt like an out-of-place American amidst the new city and looming jet lag. I wandered down beautiful, old streets unsure if I was even going in the right direction. I turned a corner and found myself walking down this picturesque, sloped street lined with charming townhouses with cobble stone roads.
As I looked down Dublin Street with its waterfront view, I knew I was destined to take this trip. One of the best things about traveling alone was doing whatever I wanted at any given time. Every venture I made was my choice and it was incredibly satisfying. Some of those choices, however, were costly.
I decided to book a tour for the day after I arrived. I ran to the meeting stop and made it just in time to watch the tour bus drive away. Not only did I have to pay for the tour I missed, but I had to pay to reschedule.
Despite the mishap, I was able to enjoy the panoramic views from Edinburgh Castle, priceless works of art in free galleries, and gorgeous, sprawling cemetery of St. Cuthbert’s. That day alone accounted for about two thirds of my pictures for my entire trip.
I found myself not taking nearly as many pictures after that day; I was so immersed in the exquisitely preserved architecture and rolling hills, I felt it was more important to soak up the experience instead of constantly snapping shots. I firmly believe that the lesson in this new chapter I am embarking is to find the beauty in every situation.
I could have been upset that my trip didn’t go as planned, but I kept myself focused on the new opportunities those misfortunes had made instead. I’m not sure where my next trip will be or who will join me, but I’ll be ready to go it alone again.