With a Little Help from my Friends.

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“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
― Elbert Hubbard

I try not to write soppy posts like this – although a writer friend of mine did tell me that my blog sometimes sounded a bit “Bridget Jonesy” so I suppose I must do occasionally – but with all the travel prep that I’m doing at the moment, and the moth-like nerves that keep fluttering around my tummy, missing my friends – and leaving them behind – keeps playing on my mind.

I know you might all accuse me of bias, but I think I have quite possibly the best friends in the world. I consider myself to be a very lucky person to know and love this motley crew.

I’ve just spent a great weekend celebrating a milestone birthday (I won’t say which one) for one of my best friends. We spent a few days in a huge cottage in the Peak District. It was so much fun and so peaceful, that I could have quite happily started some sort of commune and stayed there forever.

Now the birthday girl is also my birthday buddy, having just turned the tender age of 29 myself last week – gulp! As we were exchanging gifts the first night, huddled around the kitchen table nursing glasses of red or tumblers of gin, she handed me a really thoughtful present: a Lonely Planet essential guide to Travelling (there are some great tips in here if, like me, you’re setting off on your fist solo expedition) and a small disc etched with a compass on one side, and “stay safe on your travels,” engraved on the other. “It’s to keep you safe,” she said and I swear it took everything I had not to burst into tears.

I’ve been feeling a bit emotional about leaving friends and family and heading off on my own for a minimum of six months. Although I am really excited and can’t wait to get going, I am really going to miss familiar faces, not to mention the fab support network I have, including my mum and Dad. Thank god for Skype and free Wi-Fi!

But I think it’s seeing friends and family excited and supportive of my little solo trip that keeps the excitement bubbling and stops me from crumbling into a big mess of nerves and emotion. I recently went to visit a very good friend (and ex-housemate) of mine who, when I left London for The Shire, told me that it was the perfect opportunity to go and explore the world. We headed out for dinner and gabbed for hours about what an amazing time I would have. She basically told me I should grab the opportunity by the balls, such is her way, and use it as a chance to write, write, and write about everything and anything.

So, as much as I would quite like to stash my amazing friends in my rucksack and take them along for the journey, its time to brave it on my own. Although, by the sounds of things, I will be getting a few visitors along the way!

I text another friend the other day and said I was going to miss them all and she replied, “You’ll meet a whole bunch of new friends and never come back.” Well, for one thing, my friends cannot be replaced because of their general awesomeness and brilliance!

I think I’m just nervous about not meeting people along the way and for missing things at home.

If you scrape back the wobbles, deep down, I think that’s what I am most excited about – seeing these beautiful places and navigating my way completely alone. I’ve never done anything like that before and I’d like to see if I’m up to the challenge.

And anyway, going-away is such a great excuse for another big party really, isn’t it?

Is anyone else feeling a sudden attack of nerves after planning a solo trip? Do you have any handy tips to overcome anxiety? What are your tips for meeting new people along the way, and keeping in touch with loved ones back home?

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