There are lots of things that could scare a person about traveling alone (have you seen Taken?), but as I spent a few hours on my own between landing in London and a respectable bedtime, I realized there are more things I can add to my list of anxieties.
#1. Not having enough time to see everything.
#2. Having my phone battery die.
I don’t love carrying maps because nothing makes you stand out more as a tourist (see anxiety #3), so I use my phone for navigation. As a pre-trip gift to myself I bought a little necklace with a working compass–cute and practical–but I realized cardinal directions can only get you so far. I made it to my hostel with 6% of the battery life left, which for me, is cutting it too close.
#3. Looking like a tourist.
I would advise travelers to try to blend in. Looking out of place makes you seem like an easy target for thieves and murderers, or even worse, obnoxious Italian men who want to chat you up. That being said, I was that girl in a turquoise rain jacket dragging her bouncing suitcase over the cobblestones. Sometimes looking ridiculous is unavoidable. Just take solace in the fact that the people around you live in London (or New York, or wherever), and there is just no way you are the craziest thing they’ve seen today.
#4. The metric system.
Really, America?! I love you, but why? Even after all this time? You’re making this very difficult.
#5. Do I actually speak English?
It might have been thick, new accents or it might have been that I hadn’t really spoken to another human being in almost 24 hours, but as soon as I got off the plane, I was having problems forming words. My brain knew that a customs agent was asking a question (in English, no less) and social mores required a response, but it didn’t remember how words sounded or how to make my mouth move. Guys, it freaked me out.
By the end of the day, I was definitely running low on sleep and blood sugar, so there was a moment of panic, but then survival mode kicked in. You will NOT be the crazy, pathetic girl in a turquoise raincoat lugging her suitcase over the cobblestones and crying. Just get to the hostel and figure out the rest later.
Also, this blog post (and quite frankly, this whole little project–read the story here) is brought to you by Panic by The Smiths. Listen to it here. Because the music that they constantly play it says nothing to me about my life. I love, love, love that line and the way Morrissey kind of slides into “burn down the disco” at 1:02.