When you travel solo, you meet people. It’s one of the things I love most of all about traveling by myself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of alone time – even in the midst of a crowd, you can easily avoid eye contact and blend-in with the masses if you choose – but the universe has a perfect way of placing people in your path when you need it the most.
During my adventure to the UK and Ireland, I met a handful of people who undoubtedly increased the richness of my experience: The polite man on the plane ride over to Dublin who informed me that Brits are scared of American food portions. The French girl who, in broken English, offered to share an appetizer with me at a London café, and I, in turn, became Facebook friends with her. The sweet expat sitting next to me on an eleven-hour bus ride who graciously shared her favorite photo locations in Ireland. The kind man in Glasgow who alerted me to the fact that I’d left my credit card in the self-checkout machine! The Polish woman on a flight who mirrored my beliefs about love and life, and offered me a place to stay on my next adventure. And the lovely couple from California staying at one of the B&Bs, who invited me to dinner and we drank the night away in Ireland’s pubs. All of these people entered my travel adventure when least expected and provided me with lasting memories and fun times along the way.
But a few of my encounters turned out to be shockingly serendipitous and truly helped to inspire and validate my choice to embark on this great adventure!
Justin and Clare
As I departed from my group in Scotland, I had a minor freak out about what was to happen next. I reached out to a friend in Austin to see if his brother was still living in England, and to my surprise and great relief, Justin did live in England, and in fact, was only a few short hours away from Stonehenge! Justin and his girlfriend Clare welcomed me into their home and lives for four wonderful days. They generously shared with me delicious, home-cooked meals, a free and comfortable place to stay, use of their washing machine, and all of the comforts of home I desperately needed to give me the confidence to continue in my solo, international adventure. Thank you, guys, I’ll forever be grateful!
Katie and Rebekah
Talk about serendipity! On my last night in London, I sat down at the fabulous little Italian restaurant next to my hotel and immediately heard an American accent coming from the table next to me. Within seconds, I hear the word “gymnastics” and “bless her heart.” Both phrases were music to my ears and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to give a Texan, “hello!” Turns out, the two girls were from Kentucky and headed to Dublin the next day – just like me!! Our world views were similar, our travel plans were similar, and the extent of our serendipitous encounter elicited shock and awe on both sides! We wound up meeting in Dublin for dinner and drinks and catching up like old friends for hours! I was thrilled to find out they had quickly become fans of my blog, and it was fun to share the crazy, back-story details of the articles they found fascinating. Such a wonderful experience – the true epitome of being bold, talking to strangers, and making new friends in foreign countries. Thank you, ladies, you’re famous in my book!!
Lisa and Haley
As I was walking along the precarious trail of the Cliffs of Moher, selfies just weren’t cutting it to document my presence in such a grand place. I turned around to the two closest humans and asked if they could take a photo of me. As luck would have it, I was wearing my Food for Thought T-shirt, and both girls immediately recognized it and exclaimed that they were Baylor alumnae! How random and perfect – here I’m on the side of a cliff in Western Ireland and in the midst of hundreds of tourists and five kilometers of rugged trails, I strike up a conversation with fellow Baylor Bears! The synchronicity of it all amazes me.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from these encounters and connections is to be bold and communicate — reach out, be polite, and sincerely engage with others. You never know when a new friend might appear!