Reflections: My experience as a “solo traveler”

My husband had just pulled away from the local bus station in Massachusetts when I felt an immediate sense of panic. I remember thinking: “How am I going to do this by myself?”

I walked through the sliding doors and purchased my one-way ticket to Logan Airport. I sat down in the plastic seats and began calling my family members for a sense of comfort.

I was traveling to London to meet a friend who was studying abroad. I was going to get on a plane by myself, get off the plane and go to my Airbnb by myself, travel to meet my friend by myself, and sleep by myself. I had never done that before, and the thought was both frightening and exhilarating.

The plane ride went fine. I watched Sherlock, attempted to sleep, and I stepped off the plane feeling confident. I went to the woman at the train station, asked how to get to Potter’s Bar, and confidently got on the wrong train. Panicking and tearing up while I looked at how to fix this mess, a super helpful couple helped me get to Victoria Station, which then led me to King’s Cross station, and I got off at Potter’s Bar on time to check in to my BnB.

Potter’s Bar—let me tell you. If you want to see a quintessential English sleepy town, you go to Potter’s Bar. The town’s epicenter is the train station. Other than that, it’s cottages with smoking chimneys and commuters making their way to the station. I walked out the doors, I immediately turned to my maps on my phone to get to my BnB.

I walked along the quiet streets filled with anxiety. “Where was everyone?” “Am I in danger?”

I wasn’t in danger. Potter’s Bar is a sweet, safe town. My anxiety was getting to me, but I had to tell myself a few times to breathe, relax, and pack less on my next trip because wheeling this suitcase up a hill in a cute English town was a little too much.

When I made it to the Airbnb, my host welcomed me graciously. I stayed in a refurbished shed in the back of her house, fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, comfortable bed, and Apple TV (which I took advantage of!). I was in love!

I got inside, sat down, and immediately felt loneliness sweep over me. I cried, I almost called my husband and said I wanted to go home. In fact, I did call my husband, but only to tell him I was safe. I’d never been alone like that—I knew what it was like to feel hollow and hopeless.

I wrapped myself up in blankets, sat on the couch, and took out my journal. I started writing down an entry filled with “I don’t think I can do this” and “This is WAY out of my comfort zone.” But then I stopped. I thought, “I can do this. I am so capable of doing this!”

That’s when I took this picture of myself:

 

This was taken exactly one year ago today. This is me: exhausted, unfiltered, messy-haired, scared, anxious, determined. I decided to shake off those scaries and get my butt to King’s Cross Station. I had to explore. I had memories to make. I thought, “I have growin’ to do.”

And that’s what I did. I conquered my fears; I tried something new. I learned how to navigate the metro, how to get back and forth to my Airbnb with little-to-no-fear (walking by myself at night was eerie at first). I calmed myself to sleep when I felt super vulnerable and alone, and I did it. I just did it.

I loved every second of it. I learned that I loved being by myself. It was a great way to unwind after a long day in the city. I learned self-reliance, determination, and my own strength. I learned what it was like to feel lonely, but that I was not alone in my own company. I am proud of that trip and proud of the person I became.

If you have the chance to be a solo traveler, try it. You’ll unlock strength that you didn’t know you had within you!

Mrs. Bridges Pantry | Woodstock, CT

This year, I’ve made it a goal of mine to discover quaint towns and travel to different places in my home state. Living in Connecticut, I have the unique opportunity to explore old New England towns and take in all of its charms. Today, I made my way over to Mrs. Bridges Pantry in South Woodstock in northeastern Connecticut with a close friend.

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Mrs. Bridges Pantry is a British tea shop with the quintessential decor to match. The tea rooms take you right into a tea shop in England, filled with English country-style wallpaper, tea plates and spoons covering the beams, frames with the bust of Queen Elizabeth II, old books, flags adorned with British flags, patterns, and corgis (!!), and more. The tables are appropriately set with doilies and old-fashioned tea trinkets, like the most adorable sugar cube bowls!

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The menu consists of traditional British fare like meat pies, spaghetti on toast, an assortment of English tea sandwiches, soups, salads—tons of options. I went for the Farmhouse Tea where you get an individual pot of tea, a choice of tea sandwich, and your choice of a scone with jam and butter. Mrs. Bridges has a long list of tea selections: black, green, herbal, white, and rooibos tea. I chose a ginger peach green tea, served in an adorable and unique tea and saucer set, egg salad tea sandwiches, and a “very berry” scone.

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It was such a relaxing, enjoyable experience. The tea is delightful, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere just takes you away from your troubles and you leave feeling like royalty. Connecticut residents: If you want an authentic British afternoon tea experience in your own backyard, visit Mrs. Bridges Pantry!

 

UPDATE: This place is now closed as of winter 2019.

Wanderlust: 20 Places I Want to See

This past year, I have made it a goal of mine to travel as much as I can—to take advantage of opportunities that allow me to see the world.

The first time I flew on a plane, I was 18 years old traveling to Orlando for a journalism conference. I remember I was shaking in my seat, my travel companion talking me down that anxiety. I remember the plane taking off—I immediately felt a sense of excitement and calm.

That rush of the unexpected and possibility. When I was a little girl, I did not see myself seeing the world even though I yearned to. I was afraid of the unknown—afraid to take risks and try new things.

I have come a long way since my first flight to Orlando. Since then, I’ve traveled to Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Colorado, France, Montrèal, Ireland—and many more places that have inspired me and provided some of the best memories. I thought that it would be fun to share a list of 20 places I want to visit domestic and international (in alphabetical order):

  1. Arizona (particularly Grand Canyon and Monument Valley)
  2. Australia
  3. Barcelona
  4. California (all of it!)
  5. Civil Rights Trail in the Southern U.S.
  6. Fiji
  7. Greece
  8. Hawaii
  9. Iceland
  10. Italy
  11. London (November 2018!)
  12. Nashville and Memphis
  13. New Zealand
  14. Paris (September 2019!)
  15. Prague and Vienna
  16. Quebec City
  17. Scandinavia (Finland, Sweden, Norway)
  18. Scotland and Northern Ireland
  19. Seattle & Vancouver
  20. Switzerland

How about you? Have you been anywhere on my list? Thanks for reading and keeping up with my journey.

 

 

 

Reflection: Themes for 2018

Hi all! We are halfway through the new year, and I thought it might be fun to check in and see where I am so far with my “themes” for 2018.

Back in January, I shared my two themes for 2018: Perform and Travel. I noticed that these were two lifestyles that I wanted to incorporate into my life. I spent my entire childhood performing, but I stopped when I got to college. After seeing a beautiful production of “The Phantom of the Opera,” I realized that I wanted to be back on the stage again! Back in August 2017, my husband and I traveled to Montreal, and we realized that we wanted to see more of the world. So, we made it our goal to travel more! Reflecting on my year thus far, I am super proud that I have been making progress in reaching my goals.

When you make goals, it’s a great exercise to reflect and see how far you are coming to reaching them. If you notice that you have a long way to go, you could always modify your goals, or set smaller actionable steps that you can take to get to your predetermined finish line! It’s also a rewarding reflection process: If you are close to reaching your goals, or if you already met them, celebrate! You are awesome and moving in a positive direction!

Let’s go back.

In the start of the new year, I set two goals for “Perform:”

  1. Try out and perform in a public setting for a local community theater
  2. Practice my guitar/singing twice a week and share progress through videos

In April, I auditioned for and landed a solo in a local community theater’s spring cabaret! Not only did I encounter the nerves of auditioning in front of strangers, but I also had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. It was an exhilarating experience; even though I listened to the recording and had plenty of remarks and criticisms, I had to recognize that it was a big step to get up and do it—and I had so much fun!

And now, I have joined a community theater! A few weeks ago, I tried out to be cast in the theater’s fall production, “Young Frankenstein. ” and I am thrilled to say that I will be a part of it.

So, the second goal: I am still working on that one! For those who do not know, I also go to graduate school. This past semester was incredible because I had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant and help teach a 17th-century British literature course! With a full-time job, three classes, and a cabaret to rehearse for, I found myself with little time for leisure! Now that it’s summer, I will be able to focus on practicing guitar. I plan on writing down practice time in my planner and sticking to it so I can meet my goal this year.

I did, however, have some time to play guitar at my sister’s birthday party and even posted a video on my Facebook page! Progress!

Now, let’s turn to my goals for “Travel:”

  1. Travel outside of the country at least once and write about my experiences
  2. Take more spontaneous trips and explore the state and area that I live in and write about my experiences

When I made these goals back in January, I admittedly knew that I would meet one of them right away. In March, Ian and I traveled all around Ireland. We originally planned to do this for our honeymoon but decided to wait another year. Boy, was it worth the wait! If you follow my blog regularly, I’m sure you read about our experiences!

We are working on scheduling smaller trips this summer, and I cannot wait to share our adventures with you! In fact, we just took a road trip to Burlington, Vermont this past weekend. Take a look!

Thank you to all of my followers for reading and keeping it “kassual.” What are your goals for this year or overall life goals? Feel free to share them in the comments!